10 Ways to Get Career Experience

Fact: Employers prefer to hire people who have experience. But how do you get that precious experience if no one will hire you without it? Here are 10 easy ways to get your foot in the door right now.

1. Volunteer. Schools, churches and community organizations often need help but are unable to pay for it. By volunteering, you gain valuable training that could lead to a future paid position elsewhere. Plus, it’s great networking. You may meet someone who needs part-time help at his or her business.

2. Become an intern. Many major companies offer internships. Even if you don’t collect a paycheck as an intern, the experience will pay off in terms of the skills you learn and the connections you make.

3. Talk to everyone you know. Get the word out by sharing your career goals with your teachers, coaches, relatives, friends’ parents and neighbors. You never know who might have a personal connection that could lead to great experience, and ultimately, a great job.

4. Tap local clubs and organizations. Groups such as 4-H and Future Business Leaders of America offer opportunities and activities geared toward related occupations.

5. Check out your school’s work-study or co-op programs. Many schools offer students a chance to spend part of the school day pursuing vocational studies while earning school credit.

6. Get paid for what you already do. If you enjoy cooking, try working for a caterer. If being near the water is your thing, consider working as a deckhand or lifeguard.

7. Be a leader. Taking on a leadership role within a school club or organization can help you develop vital skills that will impress employers.

8. Try temping. Temp and staffing agencies offer many positions on a short-term basis that will allow you to experience a variety of jobs and work environments.

9. Go out on your own. If you already have a well-developed skill and some good contacts, consider starting your own business.

19. Don’t forget apprenticeships. If you have a strong interest in learning a skilled trade, an apprenticeship can provide the training you need, often at little cost to you.

Make Your Experiences Count

Keep a list of contacts you make at each internship or volunteer position. Those connections might come in handy down the road. Before leaving a position, ask your supervisor or sponsor for a letter of recommendation. Use these experiences to start building your resume. Make a note of your tasks, responsibilities and accomplishments for each position, whether it’s paid or not.

Zachary Burchhardt was on the swim team at Nature Coast Technical High School in Brooksville. His senior year he turned his passion into a part-time job and started working as a lifeguard at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

“I just love swimming. If you’re good at something, and you can make money from it and help people at the same time, it’s a great situation for everyone.”

Zachary Burchhardt, 18, freshman
Pasco Hernando State College, Brooksville and Spring Hill