7 Ways to Get Real Work Experience Without an Internship
So you haven’t had an internship. Don’t worry — this isn’t a deal breaker in the professional world. There are many other ways to show your abilities, and almost all of them can be done on your own time. Here are seven ways to get work experience that you can get started on today.
1. Certificate Programs
These are essentially tests that you complete after a period of training. Some may be an investment, but you can find free certifications online through larger companies like HubSpot and Google. Certification helps you build your résumé, and it looks good to recruiters.
2. Job Shadowing
What better way to get the feel of a workplace than to see it yourself? Through job shadowing, you can build a relationship with a professional in your field and see the ins and outs of their daily routine. This is a great way to gain insight other graduates may not have after completing their degree. Plus, the great thing about job shadowing is you will get a realistic idea of whether or not a particular career and work environment is right for you.
Massive open online course (MOOCs) are courses that are offered online for free. Because they are open access, they tend to have a large drop out rate, but don’t let that deter you! That’s mostly because people intend to start a course and then find they cannot balance school with their lives or careers. If anything, this is the beauty of MOOCs. You get out of each class what you put into it. There is nothing forcing you to stay should you become disinterested in the course. However, if you find an awesome subject, you can gain real value for free. Either way, it is a great way to experiment with subjects you can’t take in school or would love to learn but hate to pay for.
4. Informational Interviews
An informational interview allows you to learn more about potential career paths through professionals who already work in the industry. Basically, you can meet for a cup of coffee or lunch, or you can talk with professionals where they work. If you don’t know them very well, it can be as simple as a phone call. Spend some time coming up with good questions so you can find out what they do and learn about realities of doing their job. (Need help lining up informational interviews? Ask about oneTRUEzone’s GPS Program!)
5. Side Projects (aka “The Side Hustle”)
Some of the greatest businesses began as side hustles: Apple, Under Armour, Etsy, Groupon, and Instagram, just to name a few. Side hustles can grow immensely, and they start and continue on your pace. Thus, there’s no harm in trying. Do you make awesome art? Sell it or Etsy or a personal website. Do you take great photos? Start selling stock photos on the side. Do you know how to write well? Create content for bloggers or online magazines. Just be sure you adhere to any relevant legalities and maintain a balance that works for you.
6. Become a Campus Ambassador
On every college campus is a brand that is looking for Campus Ambassadors. As an ambassador, you become a representative of the brand. Your job is to connect the brand to the right students, and spread the word about the company's product services. Brand Ambassador jobs are not limited by major, so it is also a great way to branch out and gain experience you may not get through your program or career.
7. Networking Events
As a sophomore, I attended a summit for college students and it was incredible. I hadn’t expected the experience to go as it did. There were almost 80 other students at the event and an even greater number professionals who came to share what they’ve learned from their careers. It was so inspirational that I still have a notebook filled with advice from the event. If you are interested in learning more about potential career paths for your major, I definitely recommend you find a summit or networking event that interests you. Moreover, these events are a great time to network and build your community on LinkedIn.
Do you see how much you can grow without an internship? College students need to become aware of the many opportunities they have to grow as professionals. There is no one “right” way to achieve success. Find a way that works for you, and you won’t regret it.