I am sure we have all shared in the joke about employers asking for college graduates with 2-4 years’ experience. No matter how funny and unreal it is, it is what it is. Maybe we didn’t get the memo early or didn’t get it at all. Things have changed in the world of work, and until you find people who are willing to fill you in on the changes and new ways of doing things you may lose out. Ultimately, being proactive and doing your own research is mostly the solution. However, you and I know that is not what we love to do. Maybe this can be part of our new year’s resolution ha!
In the past, most entry-level roles were reserved for young college graduates who had no work experience. You could easily land yourself an entry-level position without an internship or volunteer experience. Now a lot more employers are looking to engage graduates with some experience, hence the number of years of work experience they attach to most entry-level roles. Menial/routine tasks in organizations are now designed for interns, whilst young graduates are expected to execute more high-level tasks which require skills that should have been acquired either in a formal or informal work setting before exiting college.
Internships/volunteer experience counts towards the number of work experience for entry-level positions
As a college student this is the time to beef up your internship search strategies to meet the work experience requirement:
- If you don’t find an internship, create one for yourself – yes create it. Make people find your service(s) useful. Start doing what you are good at, do it well and watch who comes to knock on your door with an offer/opportunity.
- Connect with people genuinely because you want to learn from them. Are they doing things you are interested in or do they share similar values as you? Just connect and learn. Don’t ask for favors. When you are authentic people smell it, and if you are not, they even smell it from miles away. Speak with people who are doing things you are interested in and can give you ideas. Meet others in similar fields, learn the industry language, and gradually you will be exposed to opportunities in the field.
- Take stock of the people in your network. Who are they? Can they be of help to you when you are looking for an internship? Why would any of them even want to help you? This is a very important question you need to ask yourself when thinking of engaging with people in your network. Are you reaching out only because you need a favor? Have you demonstrated any skill(s) that make them confident to help you?
- Don’t let an internship opportunity go because it’s unpaid. If you can, sacrifice now, get that experience, and hone your skills for future returns. If you can’t, are there people you can talk to who can financially support you during the internship period?
Delayed gratification – google it and read more about it!
If other students can secure internships (paid or unpaid) while in college, then they are likely to get that job or start a business because of the exposure they have gained. You cannot always blame your school for not providing opportunities to secure internships. Take charge of your personal and career development.
You can do this – put your mind to it!
All the best.