3 Tips for Gaining Work Experience
Wednesday | April 18, 2018 | by Meghavaty Suresh
Now that I work a full-time job and my school days are behind me, I have been doing some retrospective thinking. What were the surprises, issues, and experiences that shaped my journey? Among the many things that come to mind, one that stands out is work experience. Having work experience on your résumé holds immense weight when you are applying for jobs.
During my time in school, I realized there was a significant percentage of international students who began their master’s degree soon after completing an undergraduate program. Although this strategy helps you finish school faster, it can also put you at a disadvantage because you may lack full-time work experience—and many graduate school programs value prior work experience in their applicants.
In this blog post, I will elaborate on three key strategies that you can employ to overcome the work experience hurdle:
1. Do Your Research
For students who transitioned from their undergraduate program directly into a graduate program, it is important to understand how the skills you gained in school fit into the real world. Look up job titles that interest you on job search websites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and CareerBuilder, to see the kinds of requirements companies expect in a job candidate; this will help you know what to expect and better prepare for the working world.
Your classmates can also be a resource for you; tap into their knowledge to understand what the day-to-day experience is like at different companies and in different industries in the U.S. Even if you do not currently have U.S. work experience, you can still develop the habit of interacting with your peers and networking to prepare for your future.
2. Find an On-Campus Job
Try securing an on-campus job that mirrors the type of job you would like to have when you graduate. Although this might sound difficult, if you think about it, a university is a business just like any other organization. Universities have departments for marketing, finance, accounting, public relations, and business strategy, among others.
Try to focus your campus job search on positions that match your career goals within the department that most closely aligns with your interests. This will help you pick up skills that are important for when you begin looking for jobs after graduation.
3. Look for Internships
Find an internship at a company that is well known in your target industry. Although you may have work experience at a small company in your home country, it is important to gain work experience with a company in the country where you are studying. If you worry that experience at a smaller company may not look as good on your résumé, try to find internships or projects at larger brand companies. But the important thing is to find an internship where you can apply what you have already learned in school, forge new connections, and develop new skills.
I hope you are able to use one or all three of these strategies when trying to gain work experience for your career. Remember that you can and will succeed; all it takes is some research and preparation!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).