Your Career: Get Experience

With so much competition in the job market these days, it’s important to do everything you can to set yourself apart. Assuming you have the education required for the position you’re going for, the next step is to gain relevant experience.

It can be a bit of a conundrum to look at job postings; everyone wants experienced workers, but you can’t get experience without getting a job — right? Not necessarily.

Opportunities exist beyond the workplace. If you’re still in school or recently graduated, you can look for internship opportunities. Some may be paid, but even if they aren’t, you’ll gain the experience necessary to put on your resume and get real-world application of your skills. Depending on where you intern, you may even be able to get a job after the internship is over. Or, at the very least, gain valuable contacts that can help you find another position.

If internships are not a viable option — or even if they are — you can also look into volunteering at non-profit organizations. Many smaller groups and organizations don’t have the funds to hire a professional. You can volunteer to do the job for a nominal fee, or even for free. They get the job done, and you gain experience. Regardless of what you need experience in, there is likely an organization who could use the help.

Another option is letting friends and family know you’re looking for experience. Perhaps someone knows a person who could hire you. Or perhaps a friend of member of your family could use help themselves. As with an organization, even if you’re not charging much, if anything, you’ll still gain that valuable experience you need.

Don’t underestimate going out on your own. Advertise your services in the local paper or online. Be upfront and honest about looking for experience. Many people are willing to take a chance if it’ll be a lot cheaper for them. It’s a win-win.

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