It’s the great “Catch-22” of life: if you want a job, get experience. If you need experience, get a job.
How does one get around this? Obviously, it is possible; everyone has to start out somewhere. In fact, chances are that you do have experience in your chosen career field and don’t even realize it.
Sometimes, what constitutes experience depends on how it is presented.
Classes and Degree Programs Count
Believe it or not, you are gaining experience as you work through your degree. This is more than just classwork; practicum and seminars count as well. Just remember that when you are first starting out that employers are likely to ask for transcripts – so keep that grade point up!
If you are on a particular career path, you should make the most of summer breaks by seeking summer employment in fields related to your career goals. In fact, if there is a particular company that you are interested in working for following graduation, you should definitely consider taking a summer job at the place. Not only will you gain valuable experience, you’ll make connections and establish relationships that will serve you well when you apply for a permanent position after you graduate.
An internship is not simply for the medical profession – though depending on what field you choose, it is not likely to be as stressful.
Your college’s career and placement office will often have information on a variety of internships offered by companies in your chosen field. Like summer employment, an internship is an excellent way to gain valuable experience while making connections and forming relationships that will help you in landing that all-important first job. Just keep in mind that not all internships are paid; a certain amount of advance planning is necessary.
If you are planning to go into social work or education, volunteer work is another excellent way to build your resume and gain the experience you’ll need to secure your first position out of college. Again, these are opportunities that should be listed at your college or university placement office; career counselors should be well able to provide you with information on volunteer opportunities that will help you in achieving your career goals.
The key to building a resume before graduation is to thoroughly examine everything you have done and accomplished and relate these to the job you want. You may be surprised at how relevant many of these are.