In the past, I’ve written extensively on the importance of marketing yourself. Whether it’s an internship, volunteering, or taking continuing education courses, I (and others) have long touted how significant these experiences can be. Regardless of external factors, such as a poor economy, it is crucial to work on factors you control (internal factors).
When I talk to or write for college students and recent graduates, I routinely stress how important motivation is. Without it, even the most intelligent and resourceful adult will be stuck in a thankless job or unemployed. I believe that motivation can set you on a successful path. By thinking logically about your career trajectory, you can conclude that the more opportunities you have at a young age, the more experience you will garner. In turn, future employers will be impressed with your wealth of knowledge.
Mark Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies®, explains that prior experience is usually critical for first-job success. Sometimes it’s difficult depending on your major, but an Accountemps survey revealed that 91% of CFOs said it’s “important for entry-level accounting and finance professionals to gain practical experience while in college.” Though this speaks to a specific field, I think it reflects on the expectations of many hiring managers. Classroom experience is great, but it’s not enough to impress in an interview.
Allow yourself to explore areas of your desired career through opportunities outside of a job. You will discover what you truly love (and dislike) and learn more about your field. It's OK if you can't get a paid internship; they are often hard to come by. Regardless, supplement your education with work experience and I believe you will feel rewarded.
Do you think it's important to have prior experience in order to get a job? What has your experience been? Let me know in the comments section.