How to Get Real World Experience

It's time to start living the life we've imagined.
—Henry James

A recurring theme in entry level job search is the lack of experience factor. "Where do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?" Many students focus exclusively on seeking formal internships as the only path to gaining resume experience. While that is the ideal and should be your first level focus, do not limit yourself exclusively to formal internships, especially if you are in your Freshman or Sophomore year. As a Hiring Manager, I look at any and all experience you may have accumulated to date, whether full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid.

Work experience makes you more marketable as a job candidate; it also gives you the opportunity to gain greater understanding about your chosen field. You will be able to find out in advance about many of the positives and negatives. Then you can truly enter your field with your eyes wide open. Or step back early from what might have been a major career mistake. Employers are not only looking for experience, but the right experience.

So as you approach the task of gaining real-world experience, do it from a "sponge" perspective—be ready to soak up every bit of information that comes your way. Full-time or part-time. Paid or unpaid. Worker or observer.