How to Gain Experience Right Out of College

Recent graduate or planning to graduate in the spring?

Job prospects for college grads have improved substantially since the Great Recession. But while unemployment for recent college graduates has declined steadily since 2011, underemployment has increased – meaning that fewer graduates are using their degrees to their full advantage.

Unfortunately, earning a degree is not a first-class ticket to landing your dream job. In fact, as a recent graduate, you’re likely to face the dreaded “chicken and the egg” dilemma: you need experience to get a great job in your chosen field. But without a job, how can you get that experience?

Today, PrideStaff offers some help. Use these suggestions to gain that much-needed experience right out of college:

Do your research. Many industries are facing severe talent shortages – and are willing to hire candidates with less (or less direct) experience. Investigate entry-level opportunities in high-growth industries, where you may be able to apply the education and job skills you gained during college. When you apply, explain that, while your skills are not a direct match, you possess transferable job skills (like problem solving, leadership, organizational and soft skills) to help you learn quickly and succeed in a new role.

Consider internships and freelance opportunities. Whether you’re a student or a recent graduate, both of these options allow you to:

  • Gain work experience
  • Learn firsthand about what it’s like to work for an employer
  • Boost your resume, making you a much more appealing candidate

Use all of your available resources. Friends. Family. Former classmates and professors. Your college career center. Each of these is a potential source for the promising opportunity you need – but are you using these connections and resources to their full advantage? Create a systematic plan to reach out to everyone who might help you in your search. Be direct about your need for experience, and leave no stone unturned.

Take that entry-level job. Though the pay may not be the best, an entry-level job allows you to gain experience by learning from the ground up – a great path to success in most fields. Before taking an entry-level job, discuss your career goals with the hiring manager. Chart a path to the job you really want, so the entry-level opportunity doesn’t turn into a dead-end job.

Work with a national employment agency like PrideStaff. Earning a college degree doesn’t guarantee an easy job search – so don’t go it alone! PrideStaff can make finding your first post-college job quicker, simpler and less stressful. 

Though it may not sound glamorous, temporary work with PrideStaff is a great way to gain valuable experience. Working as a temp helps you build your skills and rapidly broaden your knowledge base, right out of college.  With each new assignment, you have the opportunity to learn new skills and make yourself more marketable.

Furthermore, temporary work can be a bridge to direct employment.  While on assignment, you can showcase your skills and work ethic.  If an employer is impressed with your job performance, they can work with your staffing firm to transition you to a full-time job with their company.

If you’re a recent graduate looking for work, we can match you with an ideal first career opportunity or a promising temporary assignment that could lead to direct employment. Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities for college graduates.