One common question that we get when meeting with students is, “How am I supposed to get a job without experience, when every company requires that I have experience in my field?” It’s a frustrating dilemma that can discourage people from finding that perfect job.
The job search process can be intimidating, but finding the right job without experience is not impossible. Here are a few tips to gaining job experience before you land a job.
Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door with any company. 50% of NYIT interns are offered full-time positions upon graduation. Whether the internship is paid or unpaid, interns have the opportunity to show their skills and establish a foundation for their career.
For companies, offering internships is a great way to evaluate potential employees at little (or no) cost. It allows them to familiarize young talent with their business, services, and organization while determining if they want to offer them full-time positions.
The Vault is a notable resource for finding some of the best internships out there. They surveyed current and former interns about their internship experience and were able to produce the Vault’s 50 Best Internships for 2017 report last year.
As a volunteer, you would be working without being paid and…wait, so what’s the difference between an intern and a volunteer?
An internship can be something you choose to do to develop the skills and experience in a specific profession. As a volunteer, you can also do that, but it’s more about contributing to a cause. For example, you may volunteer your skills as a graphic designer with a non-profit organization but may also be asked to help with an event or with conducting outreach. Volunteers typically help out wherever they are needed even if it is outside of their specified role.
Volunteering is still valuable and relevant experience that can provide you with great networking opportunities, even if the organization is not directly related to your industry. Idealist is a great resource for searching nonprofit and volunteering opportunities.
Networking is one of the most important skills in finding career opportunities. In 2016, Lou Adler, CEO of a consulting and training firm specializing in hiring, conducted a survey that revealed 85% of all jobs are filled via networking.
That figure is significant and emphasizes how critical effective networking can be, especially when you consider how much time is spent on searching for jobs, applying, and interviewing.
Students often ask, “Where and how can I improve my network?” Networking goes beyond asking for someone’s business card. It’s about making connections and building relationships.
You can build your network by:
- Participating in conferences and speaking with industry experts
- Attending special events and industry functions
- Joining professional organizations via LinkedIn
- Sharing ideas with friends and peers
Networking is free, takes hard work and communication, and enables you to build a community that can lead to future opportunities.
Consider giving yourself experience by working on your own. Freelancing is great for a variety of reasons. It allows you to earn money while you seek full-time employment, and you can always continue freelancing for extra money once you find full-time employment.
So where do you start?
First, decide on what viable skills you have, whether it’s in your field of study or a talent outside of your major area of focus.
Second, compile a portfolio or basic website to market your skills.
Third, start looking for clients.
But isn’t that the same as finding an internship or volunteer work?
The answer is yes and no. You may have to work for little or no money in order to gain this experience and build your client base. But remember, experience is the most important thing. As your portfolio expands, you’ll be able to pitch your freelance services at your desired rate based on experience and client testimonials.