3 Ways to Gain Work Experience Before You Graduate
"Practice is the best of all instructors." —Publilius Syrus
As students we study hard, attend class, and read a lot of material. We are learning all we need to know about our chosen profession. But one aspect of learning we tend to neglect is actually experiencing what we are learning. We focus so hard on graduating and getting a job we forget how important it is to practice our new skills.
Even more important: Job competition is fierce in this economy and employers are looking for more than just a degree; they want to see the experience you’ve gained while in school. U.S. News & World Report discusses ways to get ahead of your competition in the article “How to Demonstrate Your Value to Prospective Employers.”1 We’ve included some other great ways to show your worth that will help you to practice what you’ve learned, get the experience you need, improve your resume, and even improve your starting salary:
A great way to gain experience is through an internship. A lot of internships are paid and can even lead to a full-time job. But be cautious. If the internship is not paid, your help can be abused. If you’re willing to take an unpaid internship, try to find one with other benefits such as college credit, a stipend, or a high possibility of a permanent job. A good place to start your internship search is on LinkedIn. Here you can build a professional profile and resume, and connect with businesses.
Volunteer to help out with an organization or event within your career path. This method can be convenient for students with little free time because it is not a long-term commitment. It’s also a great way to network and gain more focused experience.
A mentor in your field can give you guidance, motivation, and encouragement. They also help you develop a plan of action for when you graduate. Developing a relationship with a professional who has the kind of job you want is a great way to get your foot in the door, learn more about your chosen career, and expand your network. It could even lead to part-time work while you’re in school and possibly full-time work when you graduate.
Internships, mentoring, and volunteer work all look good on a resume. If you’re able to show that during school you took charge and went further than the books, it highlights your work ethic and credibility. So start now to get yourself ahead of the competition before you even enter the game. At Stevens-Henager College, we can help get you in the right field of work. Check out the programs and degrees offered here.