How to Market Yourself to Employers When You Don’t Have Job Experience

How many times have you seen a job posting for an “entry-level” position that requires years of relevant experience?  Searching for jobs can easily become frustrating for undergraduate students and recent college graduates when most of today’s employers are looking for someone who has already held a similar position.  You can’t start your career until you have a college degree, but your college degree does not give you the experience that employers typically require, so where do you go from here?

Here are our tips on how to market yourself to employers when you don’t have job experience.  It’s all about showing off your skills!

CCP Blog Meme

  1. Capitalize on the skills you have gained throughout your college education.  Every presentation you have given has helped you improve your public speaking skills.  Every research paper you have written has helped you refine your writing skills and given you experience using Microsoft Word.  Every group project has taught you more about collaborating with other people and working as part of a team.  Public speaking, writing, and teamwork are all abilities that employers look for in potential employees!  Mention these abilities and experiences in your resume and job application and be sure to speak more in-depth about them in your interview(s).
  2. Don’t forget about the skills you have acquired from your extracurricular activities.  If you have served as an officer of a club or head of a committee, you have gained leadership experience that employers are seeking!  If you and a select number of people in your club, organization, or department were tasked with researching a topic, planning an event, proposing a policy, or something similar, tell your potential employer.  They want to see that you have been given responsibilities and that you handled them well.
  3. Promote the skills you obtained elsewhere.  Have you always been creative and inventive?  Did you learn how to effectively speak with customers at your previous job?  Does professionalism or problem-solving come naturally to you?  These are skills that other applicants may not already have, so definitely share them with your potential employer!  Show them that you can bring something different to the table – something that another applicant may lack or need further training.

Good luck, Captains!  We know the skills you have learned at Christopher Newport University and elsewhere will propel you into new waters.

As always, the Center for Career Planning is here to help you as you prepare to market yourself to employers.  Stop by our office (CNH 305) or call us at (757) 594-8887 to set up an appointment for resume and CV reviews, job search help, or a mock interview.

Meet Grace


Major: Psychology
Graduation Date: December 2017
Hometown: Woodbridge, VA
Interning at: Cambridge Associates in Arlington, VA
How did you find your internship?: “I found this internship at the Career Fair at CNU.”
Memory/something learned in first week: “A fun memory has been touring cute coffee shops and bakeries with the other interns and our mentors. This first week has been a lot of training so I’ve learned so much information and can’t wait to apply it during the duration of the internship.”

Meet Ashley

Announcing another summer blogger, Ashley Apruzzese!
Major: Business Marketing
Graduation Date: May 2018
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Interning at: USAA Claims Adjusting Office in Chesapeake, VA
How did you find your internship?: “Back in October, I was looking through the Career Connect website when I came across this internship with USAA.  I applied directly on the website and signed up for an interview on campus.  I interviewed in Christopher Newport Hall with two USAA representatives and then had a second interview in Chesapeake.”
Memory/something learned in first week: “Prior to my internship with USAA, I did not know much about the company itself.  This week, I have learned what USAA stands for and more about its commitment to serving those men and women who have served in the military.  They are dedicated to providing the best possible service by giving the lowest rates and exceptional customer service.  These men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice by serving our country so now it’s our turn to take care of them and their financial needs.”

Meet Paige

Major: Psychology, with a minor in Communication Studies
Graduation Date: May 2018
Hometown: Aldie, VA
Interning at: Center for Career Planning, CNU
How did you find your internship?: “My roommate, who was an intern for the Center for Career Planning during the 2016-2017 academic year, told me about this internship!  She knew it would be a perfect fit for me and was so excited when I decided to apply.”
Memory/something learned in first week: “Surprisingly, internships are not as scary as they sound!  Having never worked in an office environment, I was apprehensive about being the first face anyone saw when walking into the Center for Career Planning.  Luckily, most people recognize that I am young, new to the position, and still learning, so they laugh with me when I make mistakes or stumble over my words.  From my first day, my supervisors made it clear they are here to mentor me and help me grow, not yell at me and tear me down.  What a relief!”

Don’t Fear the Summer Internship

So you may be thinking, “What do I want to do this summer?” Maybe travel, stay at home, binge-watch Netflix, hang with friends, work — binge-watch Netflix. All of these things sound fun, relaxing, and promising, however, one thing that you might want to add to that list is the possibility of a summer internship. Summer internships give you the experience, knowledge, and connections necessary for you to achieve great success in your future careers.

Many, although excited, can also be intimidated by the prospect of an internship. The fact that you are thinking of, or applying to, an internship means that you are in fact growing up, and soon you will be off into the “real world” and away from college.

Don’t fear! This is a normal process for every college student regardless of whether you are a rising senior, junior, or sophomore (you can never start too early)! Instead of fearing the incoming factor of growing up, you should embrace it! You aren’t going to be the “top-dog” on your first day, first week, or first month of the internship. You won’t know how to do everything right from the beginning. You’ll forget things and have to ask questions repeatedly… but that’s okay. Internships are for learning and skill development.

All you can do is do your best, work your hardest, and embrace every opportunity ahead of you! Your future self will thank you for it!

We’re rooting you on! – CCP


Meet Nassir

Introducing another summer blogger, Nassir Criss!
Nassir pic 1
Nassir (right); CEO of Skopenow (left)
Major: Communication Studies, with a double minor in Sociology and Civic Engagement/Social Entrepreneurship; Passion is business and entrepreneurship.
Graduation Date: May 2018
Hometown: “I was born in Irvington, New Jersey, but I grew up in Richmond, VA. I can’t singlehandedly choose either because both had such a strong part in my life growing up.”
Interning at: Skopenow in NYC
How did you find your internship?: “I found my internship using an app that I have recommended to everyone I have talked to in the last few months. It’s called “WayUp” It was started by college students and young professionals, for college students and young professionals. It’s incredible and I encourage anyone looking to expand their professional career to sign up for it. “
Memory/something learned in first week: ” This week I’ve been doing a lot of data analytics. The position I was offered at first was actually a marketing and communication role. Things like writing blog posts, checking social media feeds, and developing enticing content for consumers was going to be my first job, and very much so closely related to my actual major. But the CEO also offered me another position as a business development analyst intern. I told him I wasn’t strong quantitatively and he said that having this challenge could really help me grow, but also add a dimension to my portfolio. So I decided to take it. This first week I’ve been working closely with my company’s software, and a tool called Pipedrive, to compile customer analytics and data and use that information to improve sales and outreach. So far it has been difficult, and very challenging, but I feel myself growing and learning, and that feeling has been quite rewarding.”
“The company I work for is a tech engineering and software company so everything they do is very ahead of the curve. For our company composites we took pictures and then had them digitized. If you check out this link, you’ll see the full company team all cartoonized!
Nassir pic 2

Summer 2017 Bloggers

Meet Rob

Rob Smith 2

Name: Robert “Rob” Smith
Major: Communication Studies
Graduation Date: May 2018
Hometown: Sterling, VA
Internship Site: Production Intern with the Washington Redskins/Redskins Broadcast Network
How I found my internship: “So I found my internship through a connection with the team. A family friend of mine knew someone who worked in the department and got me in the door. From there, I stayed in touch with the organization and eventually was given the position.”
Memory/something I learned in my first week: “One thing I’ve picked up on in the two weeks I’ve been here is that athletes aren’t as different as the rest of us think they are. They put their pants on every morning one leg at a time just like the rest of us. With that in mind, the first few days it was hard not being able to ask for pictures or autographs around the facility when I saw my favorite players.”

Introducing our Summer Bloggers

Hello Captains!

We hope you are enjoying your summer! We are excited to introduce our summer bloggers who will share about their internships throughout the coming weeks. Check the Summer Interns tab for regular updates from

  • Rob Smith, interning with the Washington Redskins
  • Paige Long, interning with the Center for Career Planning (CNU)
  • Ashley Apruzzese, interning with USAA
  • Nassir Criss, interning with Skopenow in NYC
  • Grace Tchouaffi, interning in Washington, DC
  • Harris Franken, interning with the United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany
  • Kayla Clark, interning with Martha Graham Dance in NYC

They will be posting about what they are doing, learning and experiencing – so exciting stories await!

Blog for the CCP

Attention students! Do you have an exciting internship this summer and want to share your experience with your fellow Captains? Sign up to be a Summer Blogger for the CCP by contacting Sarah Hobgood at