Four Ways to Gain Experience 


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Whether you have a new degree or want a complete career change, there?s usually an obstacle preventing that step into a new career.  If that obstacle is not having relevant experience for your new industry, there are inexpensive ways to overcome it. Lack of direct experience isn?t an impossible obstacle to overcome, but you might have to be creative and do work for little to no pay.  In the end, the investment of time and talent will pay off if you end up in the desired career. Here are a few ideas to get started gaining experience in your industry.


Internship work is often for minimal or even no pay, but it?s a great way to gain career-specific experience, make connections, and learn straight from industry experts. You get the ability to apply those theories you?ve studied into ?real world? applications and situations. If you work hard in an internship and prove yourself during that period of time, the internship could have the potential to turn into a legitimate position for you.

You can locate internships through your school or program director, by utilizing websites like, or even through our Career Corps program.

Part-time/Entry-level jobs

Finding entry-level or even part-time positions allow you to continue to learn and grow. The biggest perk in finding an entry-level position is that they don?t expect much experience right out of the gate. The pay does often reflect that. Sometimes, entry-level jobs will allow you to take on additional responsibilities to showcase your work and/or cross into other roles and responsibilities, so even if the job doesn?t necessarily fit the exact role you want, there may be an opportunity to reach the role you want.

You can find many entry-level career options through job boards such as LinkedIn, our Job Board, or even direct company websites.

Entrepreneurial or Freelancing

Gig work or entrepreneurial work is a great option for parents that can not afford to pay work expenses when you do not have a full-time job.  Instead, explore gig and entrepreneurial work.  One way is to offer free or reduced-pricing on services to gain customers, this gives you the experience you need and helps clients who need your services take a risk on someone new. Working one-on-one with clients will set expectations early on, and there will be some grace while you get your footing.

Once you gain a decent amount of portfolio work, you have the ability to begin charging even a small or nominal fee for your time and to continue to grow and expand your services through freelance or contractual work. Freelancing doesn?t have to stop at just those you know, once you have that portfolio built you can locate freelance work through websites like Upwork, Freelancer or even Toptal.

What that means is that there are so many open options out there that job-seekers are able to find and begin work more aligned with their needs/wants. Now, there are many great organizations that really need talented people, but can?t afford to pay for those services. When you volunteer for organizations you not only gain experience, but you also make valuable connections. Find an organization that you?re passionate about, and that free or cheap work will be life-giving and career-boosting.

Non-profit organizations like churches, after school activities, humane societies, sports organizations, and even career-specific associations are great places to start when looking to use what you?ve learned in college.


Volunteering is always going to be the easiest way to gain experience, but right now we are in a job-seekers market.

Restarting, starting, or changing a career can be a frustrating and vicious cycle of needing relevant experience to get the job, but not getting the job to get the experience. This cycle doesn?t need to get in the way of your career goals.  Looking creatively where your skills can be used, and being willing to work hard without immediate rewards will bridge that gap for you. You don?t need to make that embarkation alone, we?ll be there every step of the way to help you make the right connections to begin a fulfilling career.


Written By: Zaneta Padilla