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How to get work experience without a career goal

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As a finalist, I feel like the only question anyone ever asks me is what job I have for after graduation. I then have to awkwardly answer that I don’t actually have anything, assuring people I am thinking about it. The truth is, I really don’t know what I want to do, but that hasn’t stopped me getting work experience. So even if you literally couldn’t choose between a banker and a ballet dancer, I recommend you get experience to boost your CV and help you realise what you want from graduate life. Here’s how to go about it…

  1. Do your research

Work experience won’t just be handed to you on a plate. Just because you don’t have a career sector in mind, that doesn’t mean you don’t have decisions to make. As yourself questions such as these: do I want a paid internship or a shorter unpaid placement? Where can I travel to? When do I have time to complete a placement? Answer these, and you’ll then be able to look into work experience which is doable for you, no matter what the job area is.

  1. Apply anywhere

If you don’t have a specific industry in mind, you can’t afford to be picky! Apply for anything and everything that you think matches your skillset. Of course, if the job description is completely irrelevant for your skills, and you hate the idea of it, it’s probably best to allocate your time to another application. It’s just important not to limit your options: applying to something outside of your comfort zone may actually help you decide upon a career path. If you’re struggling to know where to look first try your university careers services and graduate careers websites as well as asking your friends if they have any advice.

  1. Get a range of experience

Building on the point above, it’s important to get a variety of experience if you really have no idea what career to pursue. If you’re in first year, graduation may seem a millennium away, but it will be frustrating if you come to apply for a job later down the line, and don’t have any relevant experience. What’s more, getting different experience will help you decide what you want to do. You don’t need internships in every industry, but think about getting them in areas which bring out different skills. For example you could look into business and finance, then something creative, then something more practical and vocational.

  1. Think outside the box

Work experience does not just have to be a paid internship at a well-known company. Experience comes in many different forms, including informal shadowing, part-time jobs, volunteering, charity work and society positions. So if a placement is not accessible or preferable for you, think about how else you could gain useful experience. You can even conduct experience alone in your own home, such as setting up a website, business or blog, or writing for publications.

What advice do you have for those who feel stressed that they have not chosen a career path yet? Tell us in the comment box below.

Photo: Flazingo Photos / Flickr

Lucy SkouldingHow to get work experience without a career goal

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