When you’re a student or a young professional, it can be difficult to know how to get experience for a job. No matter your degree, finding your first job after university can be challenging. That first job hunt can be more stressful if you don’t have any hands-on experience under your belt. If your CV is a little empty, don’t worry! There are many ways to prepare yourself for your first job. These top tips can be applied in nearly any field, and may be more or less useful depending on where you are in your career.
If you’re looking to change jobs or industries after already starting your career, these tips can also be useful. If you’re struggling to enter a new field, consider starting with a few of these top tips:
1. Apply for an internship
One of the most obvious ways to get experience for a job is to do an internship in the field you want to enter. An internship is usually easier to land without prior experience than a job. It’s also a great way to make connections and develop key skills. In many cases, once you have a relevant internship on your CV, the job hunt becomes infinitely easier. Many companies give preference to former interns when it comes to hiring for full-time jobs. Of course, deciding on the right internship can be challenging. Consider which skills you feel you most need to develop. Take into account any feedback you’ve received when being turned down for jobs in your chosen field in the past. Which elements of your professional profile could be stronger, or are holding you back? If you’re looking to take your career abroad, an international internship program is a great way to get a foot in the door of a new country’s market.
2. Take a course
If you’ve just graduated from university, you might be sick of taking classes. However, adding additional relevant coursework is a great way to gain more experience, and make yourself more hireable. It might not be necessary to take a full-blown university class. Platforms such as Udemy, LinkedIn, and Coursera all offer great online opportunities to develop new skills. Some online universities also offer certifications in various areas. Whether you’re hoping to spruce up your CV, or need to work on a very specific skill, a class is a great way to go.
3. Attend meetups
You might feel like you’re the only one having a hard time knowing how to get experience for a job. It might seem like all of your classmates and peers are working at their dream companies. But that’s definitely not the case! Consider attending meetups in your city, and get to know other professionals both in your field and outside it. These events are great opportunities for networking, and are even better for getting insights and advice for your job search. Through these events, you might be able to find out about internship or volunteer opportunities in your field. Depending on the event, you may even make some connections that could offer you freelance or project-based roles.
4. Find freelance work
Depending on your level of prior experience, you might be able to get experience in your field through freelance or part-time work. Update your LinkedIn profile to indicate you’re open to project-based work, or create a profile on freelance websites. These types of roles might not be as stable or pay as much as a full-time, permanent position. However, they’ll ensure you have recent, relevant experience on your CV, and professional samples in your portfolio. Some freelance work may even turn into a full-time role in the future, while other positions will turn into strong references for your job applications.
5. Do informational interviews
Sometimes it’s more efficient to build up a relationship with a company or a professional before applying directly for a job. Informational interviews are a great way to learn about your industry and get a foot in the door. Identify professionals you think you could learn from, or who you’d ideally like to work for someday. Identify a list of questions you can ask them about their careers, and make sure to get their advice on getting relevant experience. They might not be hiring on the day of your interview, but building those relationships early is a great way to set the groundwork to gain experience in the future.