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Using an Independent Study as a Resume Builder

            The hardest part about applying for a job is having to fill out the dreaded “experience” section. Whether you have a ton of past work experience or no past work experience, it is difficult to sum up your skills in a readable and practical way. One of the great opportunities offered at Grove City College is creating an independent study. An independent study is a great experience you can put on your resume. The study is similar to an internship where you design a project or complete a task that displays and highlights your skills within a semester. 

Independent Study While Abroad

France Group

             When I was a junior, I was able to be a part of the European Study Center program in Nantes, France. This program was unique because it offered courses taken directly through Grove City College instead of an outside university like most study abroad programs. I worked with professors from Grove City while in France in order to create a independent study that was focused around my major, communications. One of the best parts about having an independent study while in another country was the fact that I was able to communicate with students from all over the world. With the guidance of communication professors in America, I conducted a series of interviews of American and French students where I asked about how cultural differences affect communication styles. This was an amazing experience that I was very passionate about, and used to increase my experience in independent research and design.

How to Create an Independent Study

             Independent studies are not only for students who study abroad, but also for students on campus as well. In order to create an independent study, there are a few steps to complete to gain course credits. Any independent study must be approved by your academic advisor, as well as the chair of the department in which you study. Just like any other course, an independent has to have a syllabus and a timeline of course work that gets turned in and graded. This also includes necessary readings and outside projects or assignments relevant to the study. For my study, I interviewed French and American students to see how cultural differences affect social and educational perspectives. I consulted various books about cultural competence, communication styles, and body language, as well as kept a video blog where I would post about research and experiences. This blog, as well as interview assignments were turned in and evaluated throughout the semester.  Not every independent study is alike, and some can have different guidelines for grading upon discussion with your academic advisor. For some independent studies, a final project might be a research paper, a machine, or a public presentation. These can often times count as senior capstone projects, and can fill between 1 and 3 credit hours.

Independent Study as a Resume Builder

            Independent studies allow just that – independence in using the ideas you have as a student to create something meaningful and relevant to what you are studying. If you have an idea you are passionate about, an independent study is the perfect excuse to pursue it. Not only can you get credit for it, but you can research and gain experience to help in future job searches. Having research experience can be beneficial in a job looking for someone who can be reliable for deadlines, and work independently. Below is an example of one of the video blogs I created for my independent study of our experiences as abroad students in a different culture. This study is an experience I will always cherish.

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