Dodging the Catch-22 of Entry-Level Opportunities

Summer 2013 presents a great opportunity to begin or continue exploring your professional interests through hands-on experience(s) in your field of choice. Don’t worry if you’re still unsure where your career is headed. Even more reason to put yourself out there and start exploring!

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Getting Started

Breaking into an industry is always a challenge, especially if you have no prior experience. I remember being very frustrated during my internship search, because companies always look for “relevant experience,” but in order to get said experience, you need someone to hire you. So, how was I supposed to have the opportunity to gain experience if I needed experience to qualify?! The answer is finding someone who is willing to take a chance on you. This tricky limbo for entry-level opportunities is what I refer to as the catch-22 of the job or internship search.

Don’t let the catch-22 deter you!

Begin by inventorying relevant skills built through various courses, jobs and organizations to develop a personal portfolio. Identify any missing skills needed for opportunities that interest you. Develop these areas by getting involved on campus or by volunteering in the community.

Gaining Experience & Locating Opportunities

There are endless opportunities to gain professional experience, and as the old proverb goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

  • Check out OrgSync and explore UR’s 187 different student organizations
  • Talk with your professors, as they are a great resource with extensive industry experience and professional connections that they might be willing to put you in touch with. Asking them to share their personal career paths with you always provides helpful insights. Also, many are well acquainted in the Richmond area and might have ideas of local companies in your industry where opportunities are available.
  • Get academic credit for a part-time internship or create an independent study. Check your department’s guidelines and offerings.
  • Volunteer at one of the numerous non-profits looking for people to help in an administrative capacity.
  • Join an industry-relevant professional network, and register for local chapter events, which often provide wonderful networking opportunities!
  • Use SpiderConnect, UR’s extensive database of available professional opportunities. This online tool allows students and alumni to search for internships and jobs with organizations across all industries and geographic areas. For more information about SpiderConnect please see our previous post.
  • Create your own opportunity. If you have found an organization you are really interested in working for, but there are no available positions, develop a dynamic proposal indicating benefits for each party, and pitch your idea to the organization. My first professional experience in the marketing field was a self-created internship opportunity. The process of making it happen was long, ambiguous and frustrating, but it was absolutely worth it.

Pursuing Opportunities

Customize your resume for the specific opportunity you are applying for by including relevant skills and experience that show you are a strong candidate for this opportunity. Don’t worry if you obtained them in an environment different from the opportunity’s field; just make sure to succinctly communicate how they are transferrable to the role you are applying.

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