18th July 2012
You’ve spent the last three/four years in education in the hopes it gives you more opportunity to acquire the job of your dreams and now that you’ve finished college you’re finding it harder than imagined to get your ideal career started. You’re scouring the job boards, but every time you come across a job you’d like the dreaded line of “1 years experience” appears. Your blood boils and you scream “how I am I expected to get experience when I’m just out of college”.
Although education is a great foundation for any professional, experience is often the key to standing out among candidates who have the exact same degree as you. Employers when hiring are looking for someone who can get the job done and whilst they understand that it takes time for someone to learn the job, often having some experience in a related field means that the candidate is much more likely to pick up the ropes at a faster pace than someone else.
However you shouldn’t let the work “experience” deter you, experience is not just working in a paid, full-time job it can also mean experience gained from an internship of volunteering.
An internship or work placement is a great way for you to not only gain experience in your career of choice but also to expose yourself to a prospective employer. And yes, whilst you may have to work for free the pros of an internship in that you are gaining hands on experience in a real life working environment far outweigh the alternative of spending further months of job hunting. Consider an internship as a prolonged interview, if you are willing to work hard and show enthusiasm for the company chances are you may get a job in return.
Another way to gain experience is by volunteering your professional skills for charity. For instance, if you're looking for a position in public relations or marketing, volunteer to help an organization in those areas. Volunteering anywhere improves your resume, but if you can work with a nonprofit that has connections with a company you want to work for, that's even better. It shows you've researched the firm, and it's a way to network your way to employees already there.
If you’re really struggling to find something, then you could always consider starting something yourself as a side project. Being able to do something related to your chosen career will look fantastic to a new employer, especially if you’ve had the initiative to try and do something yourself. For example, if you’re looking to get into web design then having your own website from which you can explain your process, and how you’ve grown the traffic will really help you to stand out.
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