As a soon-to-be graduated graduate student (well that’s a mouthful) I can confidently say that I understand how to apply for jobs. I have poured hours, sweat and tears into looking for the ‘perfect’ job and every application I have looked at has the dreaded words: how much work experience have you had?
In my undergraduate studies I had the pleausre of having three internships. At the time I thought this was a decent amount of experience, considering I was also balancing a part-time job and the endless schoolwork that never seemed to decrease over effort or time. Yes, I understood that many of my peers had more then three internships, but I also understood that many had less. I fell nicely in the middle.
When I began applying for jobs, the dreaded term ‘work experience’ began to appear. Worse was there was always a line requesting ‘three to five years of work experience in a related field’ thrown in somewhere.
Whenever this line appears in an application, I always wondered where I was supposed to fit three-to-five years of work experience into a four year college stint.
If you’re like me you aren’t getting a job just because you’re bored. You’re getting a job to help pay off all the student loans you’ve collected over
four five years (yay debt), help pay for a crappy apartment and still managed to have something other than pasta for the fifth day in a row. Some people may be smart and are living at home, therefore saving way more money then I currently am. Others are like me, trying to survive on our own without dropping too many subtle hints that it would be greatly appreciative if your parents sent money.
I recently acquired a six-to-nine month internship at a fantastic PR & Marketing firm in London. During the interview process, the co-owner mentioned that by working a longer stint with the company it would show more work experience and dedication.
Work experience? Isn’t this an internship?
Are internships really the new entry-level jobs? And if they are, why aren’t they paid?
Here are the definitions of internship and work experience, brought to you by yours truly:
Internship: a brief period, typically no longer then four months, working for a company (usually unpaid) to gain experience working in a desired field
Work Experience: full-time, post-graduate, paid with benefits job that hires you based on your skill set in a work area that you desire to be in
An internship can help you land an entry-level position. The more experience you have in the desired field, the more likely someone is going to want to hire you. You show that you know what you’re doing and you know how to be successful. You’ve shown that you’re determined to succeed and determined to get into the desired work field.
I believe that having an internship can, in some situations, be considered work experience. Perhaps this is why so many college campuses are pushing internships now: work is work.
My advice? Take advantage of internship opportunities before and after you graduate. While you’re not guaranteed your dream job right away, internships could be the foot-in-the-door first step you need to secure the job you want one day…plus, many larger companies hire interns that show outstanding work.
That could be you.