Creating "Relevant Work Experience" Where There is None

By: Katie J. Cartwright, GWWIB's VP of Communication

Inevitably along the job or internship search, you’ll come across a really great opportunity. One that you would be so excited to pursue and (hopefully!) accept. The only catch? It requires years of experience that you don’t have.

Here at GW, we’re in the fortunate position of having infinite opportunities at our fingertips that set us up to reach bigger and better aspirations later on. For now though, it’s tough to balance a full academic course load, a social life and building a professional identity - plus a resume to match. But fret not - there are plenty of things you can do to create “relevant work experience” where there is none. Even within the few tips below, there’s plenty of ways to go about getting experience. 

Option one: Join an organization, and ask how you can help. 

Are you passionate about sustainability? Politics? Professional development? Narrow in on what you care about, and try to find a club on campus or an organization around the city to match - but don’t stop there. Ask how you can help out. Student organizations especially are always looking for help (they're kind of like mini companies, aren't they?), and would surely appreciate an eager helping hand. GWWIB alone has the Ambassador program, the Spring Conference committee and the member-generated blog… And we’re just one organization! Soooo many experiences! 

Option two: Write something about anything. 

Start a blog. Write for a blog that already exists (like ours - sign up to write for the GWWIB blog here!). Either way, write about something you care about, because ultimately that produces the best result. Here’s why writing for a blog, newsletter or anything else is great experience: every job requires great communication skills, and as more and more work takes place over email, being able to convey what you mean through text is a hugely important skill that employers appreciate.

Option three: Volunteer!

I think this is an opportunity that often gets overlooked. Dedicating your time and talent to a cause that speaks to you is a testament to who you are. Sometimes, that insight into your personality is just as valuable as traditional work experience on your resume. 

Option four: Check out externships and shadowing programs.

Often times, we get hung up on finding the perfect internship, but lots of companies offer non-traditional experiences that can be just as impactful. Look around for things like externships (quick, one-to-three week internships that give you a taste of the company) and shadowing programs (opportunities to work closely with staff and execs) to bulk up work work experience. 

Remember to keep your eyes open for relevant work experiences - they’re all around you. Best of luck building out that resume!

Posted on February 1, 2016 .