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How to Get Experience Outside of Internships

As business students, the pressure to find an internship that will lead to the perfect job is thrown upon us as mere freshmen with no knowledge of how to do so and why it is so important. Simply put, getting an internship is the most common way to get experience, and in the business field, gaining work experience is the most important precursor to getting a job. As a result, many students strive to land the perfect internship and spend much of the academic year either trying to get interviewed for them or preparing for them once they have received them.

However, many don’t realize that there are other alternatives to getting internships! These can be smaller, but they still build your resume and give you that experience, without the stress of spending a whole year looking for them. Although they are smaller, they can still make a huge difference, especially for students who can’t afford to work an unpaid internship for the whole summer or have struggled to get any interviews. Ultimately, getting an internship would be ideal, but if you don’t get the perfect internship, you can still build your resume in other ways!

As a business student, one common misconception is that getting an internship is the only way to get a job! There are many other ways! Source: Capital Research 

1. Personal Projects

Starting a personal project is mostly about finding a way to display your abilities and build your experience in your career. For example, you can have a personal project in software development or code, and share this project with future employers during interviews! This definitely isn’t to be confused with any class project, as employers will immediately be able to tell if you show them something like that. Make it authentic and work hard on it for at least a few months to show your commitment to it. Also, more valuable lessons are bound to be learned if you spend more time on the project and you can share those lessons with your interviewer!

2. Externships

Although internships are the most common, externships are still out there and they can be very beneficial as well!  Externships are offered by many companies and are great opportunities to show your interest in a company! Although externships are unpaid and time-consuming, most of them don’t last as long as a regular internship. Times can range from a day to a month, but it all depends on what you get offered! Taking an externship gives you the opportunity to learn about your career through watching, but you will not get any hands-on experience from it. Many companies offer these as a precursor to actual internships! For example, Ernst & Young, one of CWIB’s sponsors, offers an externship targeted towards sophomores, with the purpose of it leading to an internship the following summer. This is also a great way to get ahead and get your internship planned out early!

3. Organizations

Whether you have realized it or not, the organizations that you are involved in have the potential to make a huge difference on your resume. Showing your commitment and growth in one area is extremely important. There are many organizations at Virginia Tech which can help you get experience in your field. For example, you can apply to SEED, a student-managed endowment fund to get real-life experience in investing and networking. If you are interested in gaining consulting experience, you can apply to join the Consulting Group at VT. The last example of organizations that provide amazing real-world experience is PRISM because they work heavily in marketing and advertising. You can even get these types of experiences in organizations that aren’t targeted towards business students by working hard and joining the leadership team! Do your research beforehand and be sure to find what works for you. These opportunities are the easiest to take advantage of because they are mostly free or highly-affordable, and much less time-consuming than summer internships.

4. Treks

Treks are something that only CWIB can give you and are so incredibly valuable in your resume building experience. On treks, you can travel to many different cities and visit many different firms. These are rare opportunities, and the costs are fairly-priced. Taking advantage of treks can give you connections with firms and people who you can reach out to in the future! On these short trips, you can learn about how each company runs and see first-hand what the job looks like. Needless to say, this is an extremely helpful experience to have before entering the workforce and all CWIB members should aim to go on at least one trek in their college career!

CWIB girls got to meet with employees at SiriusXM in New York this past fall and this was a fantastic way for the trekees to gain industry exposure! Source: CWIB

Ultimately, it’s important to not get discouraged! Interviewers want to see that you are capable of learning and are passionate about your field. Even if getting an internship doesn’t work out, there are plenty of ways to get experience for your career and build your resume! As a CWIB member, you will be given many opportunities to meet with recruiters at workshops or get first-hand experience on treks. These opportunities are highly valuable to your resume and you should aim to actively learn from each one.

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