High School and College students, this post is for you. Everyone else, please forward this to the young people in your life, and feel free to add other points in the comments.
“How do I get work experience if no one will hire me?” is a common question from recent graduates. Here’s my answer. Don’t wait until you are looking for your first “real” job to get experience. Start early. Here are a few things you can do to grow your resume:
Offer to be an intern/apprentice. There are many small businesses that need an extra hand. Why not contact one and offer your time a few hours a week?
There are great advantages to this. For starters, you’ll likely get to do real work, not just get coffee and pick up the dry cleaning. Secondly, you’ll have a higher likelihood of being exposed to different departments (sales, accounting, marketing, etc.). And lastly, you’ll be able to answer that dreaded question, “Do you have work experience?” in the affirmative.
Let family and friends know you are looking for opportunities. Give them an idea of your interests and let them know how much time you have to offer. Then create a fact sheet listing your contact information, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience and business skills (i.e. type 65 words a minute).
Look for summer programs. Many companies and universities have training programs specifically designed for students and recent graduates. You can find these by doing online searches, visiting your public library and/or contacting your guidance counselor/advisor.
If you are a recent grad, I would encourage you to follow this advice as well. Yes, you may have to get a “regular day job” to cover your expenses until you get that first career position, but it’s worth it.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady