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Not finding that perfect entry-level job or internship? Tips on what to do while you wait…

Veronica C. | February 23, 2011

What’s a person to do if they’re applying to their first job out of college and hearing nothing back from employers? What if you’re still in school and you can’t seem to land the internship you’re counting on to give you some experience?

In Dain’s recent blog titled College Grads are you a catch 22, he mentioned the ‘college graduate dichotomy,’ which states: When someone graduates from college, they may not get a job because they don’t have experience. But, they can’t get experience unless they get a job.

He’s totally right! You’re trying to land a job/internship so you can GET experience! So what are you supposed to do if no one is giving you an opportunity to shine? Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated… I’m here to offer some tips on how to get strategic in your wait, and how to make the most of your experiences so it stands out in your resume.

Get strategic in your wait by creating experiences!
What are you good at? Offer your services! Let me help you brainstorm:

  • Are you good at organizing? Then put yourself out there and organize offices or closets as a part time gig.
  • Do you have a knack for movie editing? Offer to edit someone’s wedding video footage.
  • Did you recently pick up Photoshop skills last semester? Design invitations, business cards, logos and collateral to build your portfolio.
  • Are you computer whiz? Tutor people young and old.

These are just a few ways to make use of your skills and talents by offering your services to people. They’re also experiences to include in your resume whether you get paid or not. An unpaid experience–which creates proof of your skills–could land you a job that pays well in the end!

What else is there? Volunteer your time in your community or school. Visit a nursing home or help a local politician post ads around town… that’s marketing! Idealist.org has a ton of great volunteer opportunities all over the country… go search on their site! You’re probably thinking: Mary, I have bills to pay, what do I do about that? Don’t worry, I got that covered…. Keep reading!

Realize your small experiences are not so small
I understand… we all have bills to pay, so if you’re not hearing back from that fancy law firm or that cool PR firm and you need money… work anywhere! If you’re embarrassed about your job at a pizza shop, or retail job, don’t be. There’s a lot to be said about someone who can deal with the public… especially when it comes to food (people are grumpy when they are hungry!).

As Robbie mentioned in his recent post titled, Don’t Dread the entry-level job, he mentioned how becoming successful is all about lateral movement AT the bottom. He’s got a point…even if you don’t work for a swanky company. No matter where you work, be indispensable!

Don’t avoid the grunt work but instead become the person who knows everything and has a reputation for excellence. Whether you’re a camp counselor, a movie ticket clerk, painting houses, loading trucks with Christmas trees, or a waiter, become the most valuable player. Demonstrate leadership by taking initiative. Look around you; is there something that can be better? Don’t keep that thought inside, and gripe about it… instead, tell your manager, and take ownership to see that the change takes place i.e., redesign menu, re-organize stock room, start a blog, or sing to your customers while they wait in line. These things make a difference!

So I close with this: don’t get aggravated and throw your fists in the air because you’re not hearing back from employers. Use that energy to create experiences and make the most out of your temporary job. If you have any stories of how you made the most of your wait, share it in the comments section.

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Category: Internships, Jobs

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