Who Will Hire Me CVR

How can I get work experience if nobody is willing to hire me?!

By Lowell Butler, MPA, MEd
Career Navigator at Goodwill San Antonio

Conventional advice for college students is essentially try to land an either a paid or unpaid internship before or after you graduate.
 
The problem with this kind of advice is it makes a couple of assumptions:
1) Students aren't working and studying full time already
2) Students can afford to work an unpaid internship while completing their coursework 
3) Students can afford to either quit their current jobs, move to a new city or drop down to part time status while they complete an internship 
 
Depending on your financial situation and household responsibilities this is simply not an option. I do not have all of the answers, but here are a few practical ways students can gain work experience without having to make such huge sacrifices of time and financial opportunity costs.
 
Volunteer Work  
Plenty of local nonprofits will take all of the help they can get! Offering to donate your time and abilities even if just a couple of hours a week can be mutually beneficial to students. By the end of say six months you should walk always with examples of projects you worked on, a contact within the organization and a reference. 
 
National Service Organizations 
Public service organizations provide an opportunity for students to gain work experience in local nonprofits, provide a living stipend, qualify members for public benefits, do not interfere with other benefits received such as social security, provide an education award at the conclusion of service, can be performed part-time and provides members with a life long network. I participated in this program before coming to Goodwill. It was one of the best times of my life! We were even flown out to orientation for a week in beautiful Denver, Colorado.  
 
Approaching Your Current Employer 
Sometimes employers are open to providing opportunity for professional growth. You just have to ask. Even if it appears unrelated to you're hoping to do. Here's an example; you're currently a server at IHOP, but studying marketing at a local community college or university. There are things to learn! Ask for a meeting with a district manager. All organizations to some degree have to engage in marketing, training, logistics, finance and human resources. See if your employer is willing to allow you to shadow, intern or work part-time. You never know what it can lead to.
 
Teasing out Transferable Skills from Your Seemingly Unrelated Work Experience   
Taking a look at the skills that you currently have in addition to new skills that you have learned in school may just be the ticket for the job you're looking to land. Scouring your current job description and identifying skills that you already possess can signal to employers that you have the skills to be successful in a new position. I have always maintained that my ability to effectively communicate with others that I currently use as a career navigator was developed during my years in the hospitality industry as a bartender. But you have to make those connections for employers. They won't connect the dots for you.   
 
How Can Goodwill Help?
You can visit any of our Goodwill Career Centers where our team members can assist you in crafting your cover letter, resume and job applications. They are also have a schedule of workshops that are open to the general public They can definitely provide you with career oriented advice. If you're just looking for advice regarding the college experience, our Career Navigator team is a mix of talented individuals with unique college experiences. Although we primarily work within our partner schools or internally with our team members we can always spare a few minutes to pass along helpful tips. 

For more information about Goodwill San Antonio’s Good Careers Centers visit us here: www.goodwillsa.org/find-job/good-careers-centers

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