Intern Life

How to Get an Entry-Level Job With No Internship Experience


All the conventional wisdom about how to tweak your resume to land an entry-level job is no help at all if you don’t have conventional experience to put on your resume. If you took 20 units each semester of college or worked a part-time job you probably didn’t have time to do an internship on the side. Does this mean you won’t be able to land the job of your dreams? Not at all. While internship experience certainly helps it isn’t the only type of relevant experience out there. The following points (and sample resume) will help you go from being just another kid trying to learn to dance from a YouTube video to being Pharrell in “Blurred Lines.” In other words, a low-key badass capable of snagging the job of your dreams. And if you don’t think the Pharrell reference fits, its because it doesn’t. I just really wanted to fit it into this post.

1.     Work the Class Project—Did you have to code speeches for Political Science, or build a model home for architecture? These are valuable experiences you can put on your resume in place of work or internships. If you were a project leader or in charge of a specific aspect of its execution, all the better, put it down.

2.     Take an Open Online Class—You’ve heard me wax poetic (read: yammer on) about the benefits of taking online classes. What you haven’t done (probably) is actually take one. Open online classes are essentially a free way to gain the skills you need in the time frame you want. If you’re applying for a position that involves coding, take a class in coding! Learn Python! You can put these classes down on your resume and add the skills you learned to the list of personal assets you have that differentiate you from other candidates.

3.     Cite the Student Organizations—Were you involved in an on-campus club? Part of the Greek Community? Or a student athlete? Long-term commitments to clubs and organizations are excellent experiences that show time-management, work ethic, and loyalty. Put these on your resume and don’t be afraid to mention them in the interview.

4.     Send a Cold E-Mail—Rather then just sending in a cover letter (which you should DEFINITELY do as well) a cold e-mail is a way to reach out to a recruiter personally. What unique qualities will you bring to the job? How are your qualifications different from other applicants? Offer them something in this email (your work ethic, enthusiasm, or expertise) and change the dynamic to a mutually beneficial relationship rather than a one-way street.

5.     Use a Teacher as a Reference—If you don’t have a past employer to put down as a reference, ask a teacher if they would be willing to do it instead. If you worked more closely with a TA, then use them. As long as they have positive things to say about you their word can only help.

Everyone has some useful experience they can use to their advantage when looking for a job. If you worked part-time in a field that is different from the one you’re applying to, see if anything you learned can apply to the role at hand. If you were a student athlete all through college, you certainly learned how to work on a team, manage your time, and stick with something through though times. Skills can be learned, but enthusiasm and work-ethic are harder to teach. Many employers will be willing to take a chance on someone with less experience if they have other valuable qualities to make up for it.

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Zoe Schiffer

  • weisserj

    Some great points, Zoe!

    On the topic of sending a cold email, I would highly recommend people gauge it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, choosing to reach out to someone other than a recruiter (co-founder, head of marketing, etc) can have a much greater impact. I also suggest that the “ask” is not for a job, but instead, to get to meet (or get on the phone) with the individual so you can learn more about them and what they do at the company. Express interest in the person and what they are doing, not the possibility of working with them.

    While cold emails don’t have an amazing success rate, they can work better than not sending one at all. That said, searching deep within your network for even the most minor of connections could make that initial contact much more powerful. It’s always very impressive when a potential employee finds a way to you other than through a cold email.

  • chinchilla inda heat

    Need a job? Don’t trip. Ask your boy pharrell; he’ll make you blossom like a go-getta.

  • Siddharth Bal

    I appreciate Pharrell Williams as a musician, but not as a networking guru.

    • Zoe Schiffer

      Agree to disagree my friend.

    • Abe6772

      I agree to agree