Once you leave the comforts of academia or the world of study, the real world will hit you like a ton of expectation-filled bricks. People expect you to get a job, pay your bills and somehow become a fully-fledged functioning member of society. And they expect this from you the day you graduate.
But it’s not that easy. Getting a job in this day and age is not simple. Chances are that every employer in your field wants someone with experience… for an entry-level job. Which makes you shake your head and wonder, “How do I get experience if no one is willing to give me a chance in the first place?”
Most people go for internships, but sometimes even those can’t help you. So, here are a few less conventional routes to take on your quest for experience.
Start a blog, podcast or youtube channel
Whether you’re an aspiring journalist or a wannabe marketing guru, you should get yourself out there. Write or talk about your industry – your thoughts on current trends, what people are doing right, and what you think would work. Or simply do what you want to do as a career (except for free). Check out the Millennial Podcast for a great example of how this can be done.
Just remember: you don’t know everything so don’t be arrogant and don’t put anyone down in your industry. You never know what bridges you’re going to need, so don’t burn any before you even start out.
Volunteer at a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or non-profit organisation (NPO)
Whatever your area of expertise, there are people out there who need them. Of course, they don’t pay, but you’re doing this for the experience. Not only will it look great on your CV, but it will give you valuable insight into your job. You never know, you may get a few “feel good” moments as well.
Just remember: even though you’re doing this for free, you still have to work hard. At the end of the day you want the best recommendation letter possible.
Create your own personal projects
Don’t have enough to fill a portfolio? Create your own projects and use them to fill in the blanks. Document what you aim to do, how you’re doing it and what the results are. You don’t need to be in a creative industry to start your own projects. If you’re interested in management consulting, you can create a fictional company and outline exactly what you would do and why. Even better, if you have a friend with a small business, offer to help them out for free.
Just remember: you have to be committed to this project. It’s not a hobby and you have to treat it like an actual job.
At the end of the day, you need to make yourself stand out amongst all the applicants. Using an unconventional strategy may be the one thing that sets you apart. Of course, you cannot (under any circumstances) lie on your CV. You don’t want to end up having to use legal expenses cover because you’re being sued for providing false information.