Five ways to acquire useful experience
Contributed, March 1, 2019, 8:05 p.m.
First-time applicants, recent graduates entering the workforce, and people changing careers often face the same dilemma: they don’t get hired because they lack experience, and they can’t acquire experience because no one will hire them. While frustrating, there are ways to avoid this paradox and gain useful, relevant experience to land that new job.
1. Co-op programs. Many programs offer students the opportunity to alternate between work and study terms. Work is related to your field of study and consists of several paid or unpaid internships. These allow you to acquire experience and to develop contacts in your field.
2. Student jobs. While at school, try to get a job that develops pertinent skills that will be useful when pursuing your future career. For example, if you plan on working with children, choose a job as a camp counsellor instead of delivering pizzas.
3. Internships. Work internships are practical for both students and people looking to change careers. They allow you to put your skills and knowledge into practice, acquire experience and connect with individuals and businesses in your field.
4. Volunteering. Volunteering your time at a company in your field or sector is a great way to acquire experience and expand your network of connections.
5. Temporary employment. Working at firms who hire additional staff during peak periods is another excellent way to gain experience.
Lastly, don’t overlook the many opportunities found on the hidden job market. A significant amount of openings are filled without ever being posted or advertised. That’s why it’s important to turn to your network of friends, family members and even old classmates when looking for employment. Often times, you’ll discover that landing that first job comes down to who you know and not what you know.