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I'm a senior college software development student, graduating in a couple of months, and I've begun looking at and applying for jobs. However, I don't have any internship or real-company experience.

What I do have, though, is project experience working for real clients, but all of it has been volunteer work, and most of those projects have given me college credit simultaneously. For instance:

  • I volunteered my help with a local non-profit's transition to a new website. (It was for a pretty short time; I did not earn college credit).
  • I single-handedly created a website for a non-profit organization for free, but also got college credit for it.
  • I acted in the role of Lead Developer for a team project (in a college course) where we built a website for a real client. But again, it was free and it was for school.
  • I'm currently building a pretty complex web application for a private client. The application also doubled as the Final Assignment for one of my courses, but I'm continuing to build out this application (for free, volunteering) even though the semester ended already.

Now, when I'm applying for jobs, I don't know if I can list these as experience. Under different circumstances, each of these projects could have earned a freelancer some nice money.
So when I'm applying for jobs, do I need to specify that these were volunteer/college-co-op projects? Does the fact that they were for real clients validate them enough that I can list them as "work experience"?
And the answer to that is a yes, then how do I write that in a way that's honest but makes it sound like legitimate experience?
Also, on my resume, I list it under "Relevant Projects/Experience", but do I need to specify that they were for college credit?
I care very much about not being deceiving... so I'd appreciate some input about how this is viewed by professionals in the workplace. Thanks!

marked as duplicate by gnat, Draken, Mister Positive, Erik, JasonJ May 15 '17 at 12:40

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  • I think when you are just graduating it is perfectly fine and even expected to list relevant projects that you have worked on in school and elsewhere on your resume. This will let the interviewer ask you specific questions about what you have done and how have you done it. The projects you listed are all good examples. – tima May 15 '17 at 4:07
  • Volunteer work is still work, dear same name than me but with a different number. – sh5164 May 15 '17 at 7:58
  • @tima Is it just as valid to write it under "Work Experience" on the online application? – user70057 May 15 '17 at 18:37
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    @Sh306 If there is no other option online, then yes. But make sure to make it clear that some of these are projects from your university and some are your freelance work projects. – tima May 15 '17 at 19:33
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Everything!

(or at least, everything that mattered)

You want to show them that you have done this kind of stuff before - messing around at the college computer building up a play-website with dancing babies and interesting facts about Star Trek, or software you wrote to figure out how a language might work might not count.

But anything you have done for clients, etc., absolutely. The only instance where I would leave that stuff off is to make room for something even better. It still shows you can work to deadlines and to specifications, etc.

...unless it's a sales job you're applying for ;)

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So when I'm applying for jobs, do I need to specify that these were volunteer/college-co-op projects? Does the fact that they were for real clients validate them enough that I can list them as "work experience"?

Think of it this way (the programmer way): Your CV has a defined size, and you fill it with the best you did. Back then when I was still a PhD student, I even listed some academic conferences I joined and seminars I gave (lame, right?). Now, I've done more important stuff, and in order to make my CV 4 pages, I remove less important stuff.

In other words: write everything you think relevant in your CV, and if you feel it's bigger than it should (1 page is typically good, at most 2), start removing less significant stuff. Over time, your CV will become a priority queue, filling with bigger achievements, and dropping older, less significant ones.

  • Makes sense to put that in CV, but should I write "volunteer" and/or "school-project" in the description, or just leave that detail out? – user70057 May 15 '17 at 18:37
  • @Sh306 Find the closest description of what you did to a professional field, and give it that name. Non-professional names (volunteer, open-source, etc...) are less attractive. – The Quantum Physicist May 15 '17 at 18:45