With college tuitions on the rise, more undergraduates face the looming pressure to secure a (well-paying) job sooner rather than later. To secure said job, you need experience. So how do you obtain experience without having any experience? Such is the paradox of the working millennial. Add the whole not knowing what my purpose in life idea into the bag and you have yourself a full-blown identity crisis!
Alas, there is hope for your soul. You have less free time than a college student, but you still have 10–15 hours a week to put in — and your summers are just as free. You’re used to waking up way earlier than college kids, and your outlook is somehow even less jaded!
College kids, don’t worry: next week we’ll provide tips for undergrads in their search for the summer internship.
Start in the mail room.
If your passion is playing music, offer to clean up around the local music store. If you want to be a doctor, see if you can clerk in a doctor’s office or move records from the mail room. Each profession has its version of this “mail room”, a damp, windowless hole in which the only direction is up or out. You will learn the valuable lesson of doing tasks you hate over and over again, for people who will be dissatisfied — over and over again. Such is the fate of the entry-level job.
Your first “professional” position may not include a corner office overlooking a waterfront and/or cityscape. But if you succeed, you will have a shining recommendation that will be a stepping stone to your next position. Who knows, you might even be invited back (just make sure you eventually move out of the mail room).
Lend your hand to public service.
Having trouble finding an entry-level position? Write to your local congressman/delegate/state senator and ask to lend your services. These are also unpaid volunteer positions, however the people you meet along the way will have their hands in something you are interested in.
Public servants are also always on the move and in the public eye. You might make it in the evening news:
It’s also a great way to build the resume and learn basic administrative tasks that will help you in most professions: making copies, having professional email etiquette, structured writing skills… and balancing coffee!
Exhaust your personal connections.
This might be the easiest of them all. No matter where you are in life, what neighborhood you live in, or who your parents are, your ability to create and maintain connections with older people determines your general likability as a person. If your family can’t connect you with someone in the mail room, ride the elevator up and down until you have a long enough conversation that leads to a meeting.
On the other hand, there’s your friends, and their friends, and their parents — someone has something. It just depends on how relentless you are in asking for a job. Sooner or later, someone will cave.
You have the tools, you have the energy, you have no shame. Go out there and crush the competition!