Gaining Experience/Skills

As you look ahead to finishing your college degree, it is important to also think about how to build the skills and relevant experience that employers look for when hiring.

Depending on their career goals, the combination of skills and experiences will look different for each student. Students who launch successful careers after graduation use a variety of ways to gain these experiences and skills. 

On this page, we highlight what employers are looking for as well as resources to help students find them.

What do employers want?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducts surveys and meetings with employers to determine the most commonly desired skills. NACE has identified a set of eight skills, which are known as the Career Readiness Competencies. Click each competency below to learn what each one means.

Also, be sure to check out the Lightcast Career Coach tool and explore the skills that employers are looking for in specific jobs.

Career & Self-Development

Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization.


Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization.

Critical Thinking

Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.

Equity & Inclusion

Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.


Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.


Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.


Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.


Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.



Gaining experience and building your skills doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, they can happen online or in-person ... range from a few hours to full semesters ... or come through combined training and hands-on application.

Expand the topics below to explore ways you can add to the value of your college degree and be ready to launch your career!

Student Employment

A great way to gain experience and build out skills is through a job on-campus! There are many different opportunities available to students through the University, Dining Services, and the bookstore. If you have a Federal Work Study (FWS) award, your on-campus job not only helps you gain experience, it also helps you earn money as part of your financial aid package.


Micro-Internships help students gain valuable work experience, while providing immediate support to potential employers. Unlike traditional internships, these paid opportunities typically range from 5 to 40 hours of work, can be completed year-round, and are often remote. In addition to Parker Dewey, who offers special funding for students in Florida, Forage is a great place to look for micro-internship opportunities.


Internships help students build confidence in their choice of major and career path. Internships can be a requirement of a student's degree plan or an added experience, either with or without academic credit. Most internships are a semester in length.

Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Cooperative Education, or Co-op, integrates hands-on, paid, career-related work experience with your academic program and provides you with valuable training in your chosen career field. Co-op is offered part-time (Parallel) or full-time (Alternating).

Undergraduate Research

Participating in undergraduate research allows students to pursue their interests, solve problems, hone their critical thinking skills, and make real contributions to knowledge within their fields. There are many benefits to conducting undergraduate research while at USF and allows students to build skills around their creativity, curiosity, and passions.

Student Innovation Incubator & Entrepreneurship

If you have ever wanted to start and grow your own business, the Student Innovation Incubator can help you turn your dream into a reality. Surrounded by like-minded student entrepreneurs, the incubator is more than just office space; it is the first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur!

Global Experiences

Being a global citizen can mean many things, but at the heart of it all is being able to engage meaningfully and effectively with diverse people, places, events, challenges, and opportunities. USF offers a unique program, the Global Citizens Project, to help you get the most of an international experience!

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning offers a digital catalog of over 16,000 online courses. Refine and build your professional skills, soft skills or learn new software. It's easy to search and access short videos or full courses to explore your personal and professional interests. There are several ways to access the content (the direct LinkedIn Learning website, via MyUSF or a mobile device).