Most employers want to hire people with experience. But how do you get experience if you can’t get hired? It’s s a classic bind.
One solution is to volunteer or do other unpaid work. You’ll gain skills and practical experiences. You’ll also gain references and a better understanding of your work preferences and talents. And all of those will improve your chances of getting hired.
Here are five types of unpaid (usually—sometimes you can get paid) work experiences:
To volunteer actually means to work without being paid. There are opportunities to volunteer in every community, typically at nonprofit organizations and schools. You can gain skills like writing, childcare, teaching, coaching, fundraising, mentoring, sales, phone answering, organizing materials, construction, arts, and much more. Many organizations provide training to volunteer positions.
Get started by thinking about organizations you’d like to support. You can also search the Business Finder for businesses and non-profits in your area. Check organizations’ websites for volunteer opportunities,or call or email them directly.
An internship is a short-term job that can be paid or unpaid and gives students or job seekers experience in a real-world work environment. Usually if an internship is unpaid, it does provide some college or classroom credit. Internships are available in government, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. Interns, unlike volunteers, usually have a specific mentor or co-worker who helps them navigate the experience.
Apply for an internship through a college or high school internship office, by using an internship finder service, or by contacting the human resources office of a business directly. You can also use the Business Finder to locate companies and search their websites—or contact them directly—for internship opportunities.
Apprenticeships combine a full-time job with training—and prepare workers to enter in-demand careers. They are formal programs designed to provide affordable pathways to high-paying jobs and careers without the typical student debt associated with college. Apprenticeship opportunities are typically available in industries such as information technology, finance and business, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and manufacturing.
To find apprenticeship opportunities that match your interests and skills, visit the new Apprenticeship Finder on Apprenticeship.gov—a one-stop source to connect career seekers, employers, and education partners with apprenticeship resources.
Ranging from a few hours to a few days, job shadowing allows you to learn about the real, day-to-day work of an occupation by following someone as they work. You can arrange a shadow experience by asking to observe someone you know through your network, or requesting a contact through a professional association or school program. Read accounts of job shadow experiences.
School and community activities
You gain skills when you participate in clubs, sports, theatre, music, dance, parent organizations, religious affiliations, and other community activities. Include these on your resume. To develop skills in a specific area, join a group involved in that field. Find opportunities through school districts, community education, local arts groups, religious organizations, and the public library.