Here are two questions about how to calculate work experience.
1. How much do part-time internships count toward work experience?
Looking at job listings that say they require a certain number of years of experience, I’m a bit unsure of how to figure out how much “experience” I have.
For example, if I did an internship at 10 hours a week for 6 months, does that count as 6 months of experience even though it wasn’t full-time or even part-time?
If I did two 10-hour/week internships over 6 months, is that 6 months of experience, or could it be counted as a year since I was working at two different places?
Well, no, 10 hours a week for six months isn’t really the same as 6 full months of experience. Technically it’s about a quarter of that. You are, after all, getting far less experience when you’re there 10 hours than when you’re there 40 hours.
And two 10-hour/week internships over 6 months definitely does not count as a year, for similar reasons.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to count it as two months of experience when it stretched out over six months. It just means that you need to understand that you’re less experienced than someone else who was working full-time for a similar length of time.
The more important thing to know, though, is that this stuff isn’t really about precise formulas. No one is going to strike you dead or even call you epithets for applying for something that requires more experience than you have. The worst case outcome is that they might not interview or hire you. But in some cases they will, if you can make up for lack of experience in other ways — impressive accomplishments, a strong work ethic, an engaging personality, a compelling cover letter, an obvious smartness. Sometimes that stuff overcomes the lack of experience, and sometimes not. You can’t really know when it will and when it won’t until you try.
2. How much can schoolwork count as work experience?
I recently (December) graduated from a master’s program and have been on the job search since the beginning of the year. Besides graduate school, I do have work experience with one professional job and a highly sought after internship with the Department of State abroad. I would like to add some experiences from graduate school as “work experiences” but am not sure how of if I can do that.
Most of my courses were pretty standard with theory lectures and grades were given based on exams or research papers. A few of my courses required the completion of major projects. These projects were done for external organizations unrelated to the university (a local non-profit, a large hospital, and a federally funded government initiative). I feel that these projects are beyond the standard realm of education experience but maybe fall short of true work experience. Combined, these three projects equal almost a year of experience, and all of these projects were implemented in the organizations.
For example, I was applying for a federal government job and one of the assessment questions asked if I had experience locating and interviewing subject matter experts to extract facts and translate complex material into non-technical terms. In all of my projects, we (or I) worked heavily with subject matter experts to develop training manuals on complex issues for non-technical audiences. Can I truthfully answer “yes, I have the experience” or would I still have to answer “I have the education but not work experience”? If so, how can I relate this experience on my resume? I was thinking of adding a “Related Experiences” section to my resume to convey my experiences with these projects.
Definitely list those things on your resume. They count. But you’re right to list them in a Related Experience section rather than lumping them in with work.
The reason for that is that while they count, they don’t count quite as much — for most hiring managers — as if you had done them through a job. The reason for that is that when you do projects as part of your job, there’s generally a higher level of accountability. Someone has determined that you’re fit to do the work, they’ve assessed it as its going along, and they’ve held you some particular performance standard. Some of that is true when you do it through school, but it’s different.
So they don’t count quite as much, but they do still count. (And yes, you can answer “yes” when asked if you have experience doing things that you do, in fact, have experience doing. Unless they specifically ask you whether it was through work or school, there’s no reason you have to add a “but it was school” footnote.)