It’s common knowledge that it’s easier to land a job when you have relevant work experience. But as a university student, where do you get that experience? Internships quickly come to mind, but they’re not quite as common as they once were.
Unfortunately, the evidence is mounting that unpaid internships may not ultimately improve a graduates chance of getting a job.
How do you get the experience that you need to land a job upon graduation, when paid internships are few and far between, and unpaid internships are unlikely to help your situation?
As usual, the answer is to think outside the box.
Semi-related Part-time JobsObviously you will not be in a position to get a full-time job in your field of choice while you are still in school. It is possible however that you will be able set up some sort of arrangement in a relevant position on a part-time basis.
This can include part-time jobs in your major field of study, or even those that are semi-related. If the job is directly related, that of course is preferred. You may even find that you have a better chance of landing an ongoing part-time job in the field, than a short term internship.
A part-time job related to your ultimate career can enable you to work in several different aspects of the field, even if you don’t work in a capacity that relates directly to what you will ultimately do. Just the fact that you work for an organization in the industry could be a door opener when it comes time to look for full time, permanent job.
Still another possibility is a part-time job working for an employer that does related work. For example, you might be in a part-time job working in a company that operates as a supplier or vendor – or even a client – to an employer in your chosen field. That won’t give you direct experience, but may be close enough to enable you to land the job that you want when you graduate.
Unrelated Part-time Jobs
It may be possible to get a job that fits somewhere between hamburger flipper and relevant career related work. The job may not be in a field that is remotely related to what you hope to do some day, but if it’s more substantial than a typical part-time job, it may provide just the opening that you need.
Related: How To Get a Dream Intern Job
For example, rather than working as a cashier or a clerk in a bookstore, try getting a job on the IT side, or in the buying department, or even in some significant sales capacity. The fact that you’re working in a job that is more meaty than the typical clerk job may give you important job experience. A future employer will know that you are not the typical part-time employee, but someone working in something more significant.
Starting Your Own Business
Though most university students think in terms of a job when it comes to getting experience, it may be possible to get parallel or even superior career exposure by working in your own business. With the Internet, starting a business while you’re still a university student is far from impossible.
You may be able to start some sort of online freelance business involving web design, graphics, or even content creation. It may even be possible to start an online store.
Training and exposure that you’ll get as a result of having your own business can be an indication that you have the kind of hands-on skills that employers are looking for. Then there’s yet another possibility – that your business will become so successful that it will become your job upon graduation. Problem solved!
Temporary Summer Jobs
Still another possibility is taking a temporary summer job, particularly before your senior year. If it is in your major field of study, great. But if it isn’t, it may still work to your advantage.
The fact that you are holding what is essentially a full-time job – even though it is temporary – is a sign to an employer that you are ready to enter the workforce on a serious basis. Though it may not be related to your major, if it involves doing work that is more significant than typical retail clerking, it could provide you with certain skills the future employer will find valuable.
With any of these options – even though they may not be as perfect as a paid internship directly related to your major – they’ll be the next best thing. A future employer will certainly give you the nod over graduates with no experience whatsoever.
What are you doing to get relevant work experience, other than a paid internship?