A common loophole students and young professionals stumble upon as they try to build their career revolves around the question: how am I supposed to earn working experience if most entry-level jobs are already looking for applicants with valuable professional background?
At first glance, it almost doesn’t make any sense, right?
So in this post, we’ll lay down some solutions to the common problem that most students and young professionals experience at the start of their career path: earning work experience.
Here’s how you can jumpstart your career.
Now before we move on, it’s worth noting that your career doesn’t start after you complete your study. Most people mistakenly assume that you cannot earn experience while still studying in college. And while balancing work and studies can be quite challenging, it can make a significant difference to the first few years of your career.
The key, therefore, is getting a head start. But how can you do that? How exactly can you secure early work experience? What are your options?
Before deciding on a job choice, you must first have a good grasp on your career prospects and use it as your main guide. First, map out all your potential career prospects.
Earning experience from different jobs can provide you with an expanded set of professional background and skills. Align your plans, educational background, and expertise with your goals. This can help you narrow down your options and save you time and resources.
It is more ideal for you to gain work experience in a field that goes along with your academic qualifications, interests, and skillsets.
If you’re taking journalism , then applying for writing-based positions will give you higher chances of getting hired.
If you’re pursuing a degree under the sciences, then you can consider looking for a job under science and technology-driven industries such as medicine, research, and data science.
In general, make sure that your plans, prior background or experience, abilities, and career prospects coordinate well.
Internships are either paid or unpaid short-term employment programs designed for college and recent graduate students to help them get a slight boost on their work experience.
Internship programs hold various trainings suitable in preparing entry-level employees with the basics and fundamentals of the job. While they only last for a few months, they can provide a compelling addition to your resume and give you a leverage when you apply for your first job.
Companies also use internships to look for potential full-time employees. Therefore, if you perform well during the internship, you may get regular employment right after the end of your training.
Employment opportunities can also arise from networks. More often than not, the connections you make with others can give you a edge in earning your first work experience.
Start from your relatives and friends. Ask them about the work they do and see if you’re interested in their industry. They can easily give you a few heads up on what to expect with the job.
If you are still in college, create networks with your professors. Join seminars, talks, and other special events arranged by your university and look for potential connections. Affiliate yourself in school organizations that can help you make professional connections with your peers and potential colleagues.
When the time comes and you’re having a difficult time looking for your first job, you can contact and follow up on them to ask if they know of any employment opportunity for you.
Job shadowing is a form of on-the-job training designed for newly hired employees, interns and students who need to familiarize themselves with the duties and responsibilities of the job.
This type of training gives room for a more comprehensive grasp on the job since it consists of observational learning and intensive training. During job shadowing, trainees get to see the actual job in action, making it ideal for employees who learn more efficiently when ‘seeing’ and ‘doing’ rather than ‘telling’ or learning by the book.
A lot of non-profit organizations offer volunteer work for anyone who wants to gain initial work experience.
While it’s not paid work, it can still be a valuable and significant experience. And of course, it’s a great addition to your resume.
If you want to gain work experience in different types of jobs without committing to a single company, freelancing may be your perfect choice.
Freelancers typically work on project-based or commission-based tasks in short-term arrangements. In such work plan, they can get employed in more than one company provided that they complete their tasks without compromising the agreement with other employers.
Freelancers can also be self-employed and work on a broad range of projects of their own interest. Here, you can be your own boss, work on your own pace without being on the clock, and experience great work-life balance because of your flexible schedule.
The challenges with freelancing, however, include inconsistent work (and an inconsistent pay) and having little to no job security. However, if your primary goal is to gain experience, then it’s not bad to start small.
Looking for your first job can be stressful and overwhelming. But baby steps are fine! Take it easy, try to gain experience using the advices above, and your hard work will definitely pay off.