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Ten Terrific Ways to Gain Job/Career Experience if You are Starting from Scratch
We've heard a classic complaint from JobNext Career participants that it is tough to break into a career field if you lack experience. But how are you going to get experience if no one will hire you?

Actually, many colleges today are solving this problem for students by offering programs in conjunction with their studies that are called internships or cooperative education programs. This means taking some time out during your college study to work in the field you are considering after graduation. Many times employers are so impressed with the quality of the interns or coop students that they offer job opportunities upon graduation. A similar situation could also be established by signing on with a temp agency that hires you out on assignment. Many professional or technical assignments are showing up today.

If you have not had the benefit of a coop, internship or temp assignment yourself, here are ten other ideas you can explore:

  1. Contact the school you graduated from and see if they would work with you and the local employers to create a post graduation internship. Start with the department you majored in and/or the career planning office on campus.
  2. Find a business on your own and offer to volunteer your services for a period of time (3 to six months) in turn for a letter of recommendation upon the successful completion of this project.
  3. (Re)Write your resume in a functional format, using college course content, demonstrating your knowledge of the field. For ideas about how to do this, visit Yana Parker's Web site that compliments her Damn Good Resume books,
  4. Write a proposal for a project that will meet an unmet need of businesses in the field you are pursuing and start heavily networking in the industry until you find someone who will take you up on your project. (You may need to do a bit of research to pull this off successfully)
  5. Look for a job in an emerging industry such as new media where the criteria for credentials are less stringent than that in older, more established fields.
  6. Network heavily with alumni from your college. Obtain their names from the alumni office at your school. People who have a graduated from your alma mater will have more of a vested interest in your career success and may be more inclined to take a chance on you, especially with the confidence of knowing the kind of education you have had.
  7. Get yourself some publicity or get yourself published. If you write an article or book or get recognition for some sort of contribution in your community, you will have a feather in your cap and employers will see you as having something worthwhile to offer them.
  8. Volunteer for work in a third world country or in Russia or one of the former Soviet Union block countries. These countries are desperate for competent business help and after you've worked under constraints you would face in these situations, who could dispute that you have credible experience?
  9. Join a job search club or start a success team. Others may have some ideas and insights for you that you can't see for yourself. Others will inspire you success and you will increase your networking community. There are affiliates in many churches around the country or there is an organization called the 5 O'clock Club that has branches primarily on the East Coast. You can read about success teams by scouting out a book now out of print called Teamworks! By Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb. 
  10. Hire yourself a career coach. Visit the International Coach Federation and investigate the numerous coaches listed through their referral service. Look particularly for those who specialize in career and job search matters. You can find these connections at Many coaches offer free sample sessions.



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