Many jobs ask for — and sometimes even require — experience of some sort, even if you are applying for an entry-level position. Finding and building experience when every company asks that you already have experience in the first place almost sounds like a Catch-22. This is especially daunting for freshly graduated college students.
You would think that your college degree would be enough, but in many cases it’s not. Since many people have college degrees nowadays, employers usually want relevant experience that shows you can successfully complete tasks in a work environment. While having a college degree is great, outside experience is equally important to set you apart from other applicants.
Even though this is something you will most likely come across when searching for your first job after college, it is very possible to build experience from nearly nothing. You just have to think outside of the box. Here’s how:
Volunteering can be a great way to build experience. You can learn many valuable “workplace” skills while getting involved in your community and helping others.
There are many different types of volunteer positions out there, many of which closely parallel certain career paths. For example, if you are looking to get into accounting, you could find an accounting volunteer position at your favorite non-profit. Or, if you’re looking to build your reputation as a social media consultant, consider reaching out to a local charity that doesn’t yet have a social presence.
2. Find an Internship
Like a volunteer position, internships can provide you with the valuable work experience necessary. Since more and more hiring managers require internship experience, there are plenty of paid and unpaid opportunities in a variety of fields.
Hiring managers see immense value in internships because they show that you’re competent and able to complete tasks in a professional environment. Adding at least one or two internships to your resume before graduation is crucial. This experience will give you a leg up on other candidates when interviewing.
3. Join a Club
If you are still in college, I highly recommend joining a club or two. There are many important responsibilities associated with joining a school club, such as planning fundraisers, engaging with the local community and project managing events.
These responsibilities oftentimes translate into the reputable skills and meaningful experiences that hiring managers are looking for. Plus, being a part of a campus organization allows you to build your network and resume before entering the job market.
5.. Leverage Your Degree
Remember that your college degree counts as experience as well. If you’ve taken classes, earned certifications and/or received degrees that directly relate to the job of your dreams, prepare to properly articulate that capability to the hiring manager.
This includes group projects, thesis papers, specialty courses and more. Don’t forget to leverage the skills earned inside the classroom as well. Just because these experiences were a part of your degree program doesn’t make them any less valuable.
5. Chart Your Own Course
If these suggestions are of no interest to you, then you should consider creating your own meaningful college experience.
This can be in the form of starting your own business or freelancing on the side. Both of these ventures allow you to develop your customer service, accounting and social media management skills. This entrepreneurship route gives you more creative control over which skills you wish to develop and hone during your college experience.
By immersing yourself directly in the business environment, you can obtain a variety of applicable skills for the job you wish to apply for and eventually land come graduation.
What other ways can someone build experience without a traditional job? Share your ideas in the comments below or catch up with us on Facebook.