Many young people coming right out of the service, school or college always have the same complaint: Every job I apply for requires someone with experience. So, how can I get experience if no one will hire me?
One answer is, first of all, don’t give up. Someone, somewhere out there is looking just for you, and all you have to do is be at the right place at the right time. Meanwhile, you have to go get experience, almost any kind, and add it to your resume. Here are some suggestions:
1. School work: While you’re still studying, look around the campus and nearby to get experience that can be valuable in your eventual job search. Manage a sports team, write for the school publications, write and/or perform on the school radio and/or TV station. Honcho a money-making project, such as a school play, sales event or find a website that pays money for writing or other creative talents.
2. Volunteer: If you expect to go into some branch of the medical field, put in time at a local hospital or nursing facility. Help in any areas where you can, whether in a lab, front desk or clean-up detail. Check with churches, charities and civic organizations that always need volunteers.
3. No experience jobs: Deliver pizzas, toss burgers, scoop ice cream or unpack department store clothing. Many basic jobs don’t require experience, but once you’re in one, you’ll spend valuable time that could include handling money, ordering supplies and dealing with the public.
4. Part-time military: There are military jobs that don’t require enlistment for full-time duty, nor interruption of your school or college studies. Check with your local Army or other service Reserve or National Guard organization. You get paid to learn and may have choices to become involved part-time in electronics, medical, aviation and other skills that can be valuable in your future.
5. Active duty is over: This is a different military situation. You’ve served your time and now you want a good civilian job. If you’ve spent two or three years firing a rifle or cannon at bad guys, employers may not consider that appropriate experience. Prepare a resume that shows service activities that could parallel civilian jobs. Did you work in the PX or mess hall, handling money, services and supplies? Were you in charge of a squad of guys in clean-up details or constructing buildings? Did you schedule aircraft flights or were involved in cleaning them? Make the potential employer see that you spent your military years doing solid, responsible work.
6. Internships: Employers often consider these the most valuable experiences for students, because the duties are appropriate for many entry-level jobs. Whether you get paid a stipend or volunteer, internships bring students right up into the real world. Whether in hospitals, labs, businesses, media, community or other fields, internship information make for solid resumes.
7. Summers: Of course, summer times spent hiking the Alps, roaming through Rome or just surfing in Waikiki are great. However, they don’t do anything for your resume. There are all kinds of summer internships, counselor jobs and volunteer repair/building projects that will make your resume happy. Consider them for next summer, or at least devote half of the time to those kinds of personal efforts.
It’s frustrating when a potential employer won’t hire you because you have no work experience. The only person who can do anything to change that is you. So, go out and get some experience. It’s there if you know how to look for and take advantage of all options.