Originally posted onto Newsaratti.com 1/7/16
The cycle goes “Can’t get a job without experience—Can’t get experience without a job.” The vicious downward cycle presented here is relentless to job seekers and students just starting out because it’s so very true. However, the way to break the cycle is by aiming low and working your way up. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Although there are exceptions to breaking that cycle (such as calling up that well connected Uncle of yours who can get you an interview at your dream job), the following suggestions are for those looking for a place to start.
Build That Portfolio.
The portfolio, or collection of prior experiences and/or works, is the key to landing any job. Having solid proof that you are in fact, capable of performing what you claim is what employers look at first. Building that portfolio is no easy feat, but putting in the time is worth the effort. Tangible prior accomplishments and even a small amount of experience in your chosen industry, will give you an edge over the job seeker who has an empty resume and portfolio. Something is always better than nothing.
Beware of Being Too Invested in a Part-Time Job that is Not in Your Career Path.
In college, it’s extremely tempting to pick up a job for those times when you aren’t in class or studying to simply pick up some cash. Working on campus, driving for Uber, waiting tables, these are all great ways to keep busy and fill the tank for those long drives back home to your mom’s house to do laundry.
The danger here, is that the job that you picked up just to make some cash can very easily pull you in a direction that can suck you in for a lot longer than you originally planned. The money is plentiful and easy to get, but in the long run, do you really want to keep refilling coffee mugs for impatient customers for the rest of your life? Making cash is one thing, and also a great thing, but don’t let it become a trap. Complacency and security have potential to keep you from moving forward in the direction that you originally went to college for in the first place. Beware!
Consider Working for Free.
Yes, you read that correctly. When it comes to breaking into the career field of your choice, you sometimes have to pay your dues, and that means possibly working for free. This isn’t the end of the world, but to catch a break and at least get a second glimpse by employers, you’ll need to have more to your name than just a pretty face. Building up a portfolio of work is what you’ll need, and employers have a hard time saying no to free labor. Do what you must to get that portfolio filled with past works!
Internships, If You’re Lucky Enough to Land One.
Speaking of free labor, an internship is a solid way to build up experience that looks great on your resume, as well as actually giving you hands-on experience in the industry of your choice. The average internship is pretty hard to secure however, and landing a spot is at times equally as hard as landing a real honest-to-goodness job. This is where having that portfolio of prior experience that you gained by working for free will come in handy. Internships are often golden tickets to landing that future dream job, and some even pay. An internship in your chosen field is always a good idea.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself When Just Starting Out.
When just starting out, you will be rejected, and you will be rejected a lot. People say you need to develop a “thick skin” when leaving home, and they couldn’t be more right. It’s going to hurt at first when you are denied entrance to anything and everything you want to try, but keep at it, because eventually someone will at least give you a second look.
Don’t Waste Valuable Time.
Companies that you would want to work for require two things: prior relevant experience, and a degree. You will get one of these two things at the end of college, but when are you planning on getting that prior experience? An opportunity that presents itself right now may not be there in the future. Why wait? Set yourself up to get what you want as soon as possible, and if a career is something you want right out of the gates of college, then starting early and putting in the time is worth the sacrifice.