February 28, 2012 1 Comment
Adina Tayar collaborated with Rachelle Chaykin on this post!
Almost every college student faces the same dilemma: how do I get experience if everyone wants to hire someone who already has experience. Essentially, it is the chicken and egg conundrum (or as I like to call it–brunch). How do you get your foot in the door for what you went to school for? Why do employers ask for one year of experience (or sometimes more) for jobs listed as ‘entry level’?
If you don’t have actual year(s) of experience in your field to put on your resume, you can still ‘appear’ experienced. There are ways for to you shine on your resume (and in your interview), but you have to expand your definition of experience. The hiring process is not easy on anyone! What many folks do not know is that employers often want more than ‘qualifications’ anyway…
- Some want passion.
- Some want exceptional grades.
- Some want the experience you have from tinkering, from doing the work on your own time (for friends and family) to show that somehow, someway, you do have experience even if it isn’t as formal as a current or former job title.
- Some want to see that you held a job for a consistent time period!
For example, IT employers may want to know how often you tinker with computers, engineering employers may want to know what the latest CAD project you worked on is or the latest machine you took a part. Business employers may want to know what industry news you read. Healthcare employers may want to know what certifications you have earned or you are studying to take. Figure out how you can demonstrate your continued interest in the field you study at P.I.T.. But above all else, if you come across with your genuine personality and eagerness to learn, you will make a strong impression.
Does your resume feature the following attributes? Do you have examples of these characteristics that you can discuss during your interview?
- Passion: can be stated in summary or professional profile, and can be stated in your cover letter. Your enthusiasm must be evident at the interview. Don’t assume that the interviewer can see what a fabulous person you are unless you demonstrate a passion for your field.
- Tinkering: do you fix computers for your friends or family? You can call this self-employment or volunteer activities.
- Projects: this usually refers to class projects, especially for entry-level candidates.
- Portfolios: you should refer to having one on your resume (and you should make every effort to have one!), and bring it with you. Portfolios are effective for every major.
- Volunteering: this is also known as an unpaid internship; find a non-profit or start-up company that needs assistance with a skill you have learned in school and give them a few hours a week of your time.
- Internships: you can build a professional network, get experience, and on-the-job training.
- Certifications: Upon graduation (if not before) pursue your industry’s certifications and bring a copy to your interview (perhaps as part of your portfolio). If you are preparing for or scheduled to take a certification, state that on your resume and make a point of bringing it up at your interview.
Most importantly, capitalize on your work history, even if it isn’t in your field! If you’ve been working and going to school–maybe even juggling family responsibilities and a busy schedule– you’ve also built up a large network of personal contacts who can refer you to positions. Many employers highly value candidates who have a track record of reliability, dependability, proven success, and longevity in the workforce.
If you would like to discuss any of these suggestions with career services, please contact our Career Services team!
Degree students, both campuses (IT, Business, Engineering/CAD, Allied Health and PN): Ms. Adina Tayar, email@example.com
Career Certificate students, both campuses (Medical Billing and Coding, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician): Ms. Elisa King, firstname.lastname@example.org