How to Compete When You Are a New Grad With no Internship Experience

Remember that final exam in college you really studied for?  You knew the material so well that even the professor’s “trick” questions were easy to spot.  You can use the same process to be “uber” competitive even if you do not have one of those coveted internships.  The key is to be highly focused and willing to work as had as you ever have.  Here are 5 tips on how to land that first job after college—internship or not.

  1. Find companies that are recruiting recent college grads with your major or academic profile.  Already, you are in the ballpark and more competitive for these jobs as compared with others. To be even more competitive, first look at companies that come to your campus to recruit.  They like the students there and are inclined to consider them first.
  2. Find out precisely the kind of candidate they are looking to hire.  How?  Study the position descriptions in detail.  Concentrate especially on the soft skills they are looking for such as problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, teamwork, etc.
  3. Put your resume together in a way that emphasizes what they are looking to hire.  Fight the tendency to put a resume together before studying the requirements of the positions.  Use whatever “equivalent” internship experiences you may have had.  For example, rethinking the inventory system of the hotdog stand you managed during the summer can be positioned as superior to fetching coffee as an intern in a law office.
  4. Connect with recent graduates who work for companies in which you are interested. If possible, find examples of recent graduates who got similar positions without internships.  If not, find out from pervious years’ hires what it takes to be successful and share that with the interviewer at the appropriate time.
  5. Be flexible.  Your initial job may have little to do with your major.

It’s a matter of being creative and doing your homework better than perhaps you have ever done it before. Employers still need to hire good people.  Your job is to convince them that that’s you.

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