Are you looking for ways to boost your career prospects and stand out from the crowd? If so, you might be wondering how to gain work experience and build a strong resume. After all, these are crucial factors that employers look for when hiring new talent.
However, gaining work experience is not always easy, especially if you are a fresh graduate, a career changer, or someone who faces barriers to employment. You might feel like you need experience to get experience, and that can be frustrating.
But don’t worry. There are unconventional ways to gain work experience and enhance your resume that you might not have considered before. These are opportunities that can help you develop new skills, showcase your abilities, and expand your network. They can also make you more attractive to potential employers and open up new possibilities for your career.
In this blog post, we will explore some of these unconventional ways to gain work experience and enhance your resume. We will also share some success stories of individuals who have used these methods to advance their careers. Let’s get started!
Volunteer for Nonprofit Organizations
One of the best ways to gain work experience and enhance your resume is to volunteer for nonprofit organizations. Volunteering is not only a noble way to give back to society, but also a great way to learn new things and gain valuable skills.
By volunteering, you can demonstrate your passion, commitment, and work ethic. You can also show that you have relevant skills and experiences that can transfer to other roles. For example, if you volunteer as a social media manager for a nonprofit organization, you can showcase your digital marketing skills and creativity.
There are many nonprofit organizations that are looking for volunteers in various fields and sectors. You can find opportunities that match your interests, goals, and availability. Some examples of nonprofit organizations that you can consider volunteering for are:
- UN Volunteers: A global platform that connects volunteers with UN agencies and other partners around the world.
- Catchafire: A platform that matches skilled volunteers with social good organizations that need their help.
- Idealist: A platform that lists thousands of volunteer opportunities from nonprofit organizations across the globe.
One success story of someone who gained work experience through volunteering is Shannon O’Brien, who started as a volunteer at the American Cancer Society and eventually became a full-time employee there. She says:
“Volunteering gave me the opportunity to learn about the organization from the inside out, network with staff and other volunteers, and prove myself as a valuable team member.”
Freelancing and Side Projects
Another unconventional way to gain work experience and enhance your resume is to engage in freelancing and side projects. Freelancing and side projects are ways to pursue your passions, hobbies, or interests while earning money or building a portfolio.
By freelancing or working on side projects, you can develop new skills or improve existing ones. You can also demonstrate your initiative, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. For example, if you freelance as a web developer or work on a personal website, you can showcase your coding skills and design sense.
There are many platforms and resources that can help you find freelance opportunities or start personal projects. Some examples are:
- Upwork: A platform that connects freelancers with clients who need various services such as writing, graphic design, web development, etc.
- Fiverr: A platform that allows freelancers to offer their services for a fixed price starting from $5.
- Codecademy: A platform that offers online courses and projects on various programming languages and technologies.
One success story of someone who enhanced their resume through freelancing or side projects is Lauren Holliday, who went from being a marketing manager to a software engineer in nine months by learning how to code online and working on freelance projects. She says:
“I started freelancing as soon as I could write HTML/CSS because I wanted real-world experience ASAP.”
Participating in Open Source Projects
A third unconventional way to gain work experience and enhance your resume is to participate in open source projects. Open source projects are projects that have their source code publicly available for anyone to view, modify, or contribute to.
By participating in open source projects, you can learn from other developers, improve your coding skills, and gain exposure to different technologies and frameworks. You can also demonstrate your collaboration, communication, and teamwork skills. For example, if you contribute to an open-source project on GitHub, you can showcase your ability to use version control, write documentation, and review code.
There are many platforms and resources that can help you find open-source projects to contribute to. Some examples are:
- GitHub: A platform that hosts millions of open-source projects and allows developers to collaborate on them.
- CodeTriage: A platform that helps developers find open-source projects that need their help.
- First Timers Only: A platform that lists open-source projects that are friendly to first-time contributors.
One example of someone who gained work experience and recognition through open source contributions is Kent C. Dodds, who is a renowned software engineer, speaker, and educator. He says:
“I’ve learned so much from contributing to open source and I’ve made some great friends along the way. It’s also helped me get jobs and speaking opportunities.”
Networking and Mentoring
A fourth unconventional way to gain work experience and enhance your resume is to network and find mentors. Networking and mentoring are ways to connect with other professionals in your field or industry, learn from their experiences, and get advice or guidance.
By networking and finding mentors, you can expand your horizons, discover new opportunities, and gain insights into your career path. You can also demonstrate your enthusiasm, curiosity, and professionalism. For example, if you network with someone who works at your dream company or find a mentor who has the role you aspire to, you can learn more about their work culture, expectations, and challenges.
There are many methods and platforms that can help you network and find mentors in unconventional ways. Some examples are:
- Meetup: A platform that allows you to join or create local groups based on your interests or hobbies.
- Eventbrite: A platform that allows you to discover or create events such as workshops, conferences, or seminars.
- MentorCruise: A platform that connects mentees with mentors in various fields and domains.
One personal story of someone who leveraged networking and mentoring to enhance their resume is Sara Soueidan, who is a freelance front-end developer, speaker, and author. She says:
“I owe a lot of my career growth to the people I met online and offline through conferences, workshops, Twitter chats, etc. They helped me learn new things, find new opportunities, and overcome challenges.”
Creative Education and Certifications
A fifth unconventional way to gain work experience and enhance your resume is to pursue creative education and certifications beyond traditional degrees. Creative education and certifications are ways to acquire practical skills and knowledge that are relevant to your field or industry.
By pursuing creative education and certifications, you can show that you are proactive, adaptable, and eager to learn. You can also show that you have specific skills or qualifications that can make you stand out from other candidates. For example, if you pursue an online course on digital marketing or obtain a certification in project management, you can showcase your expertise in these areas.
There are many resources and platforms that can help you pursue creative education and certifications. Some examples are:
- Coursera: A platform that offers online courses, certificates, and degrees from top universities and organizations.
- Udemy: A platform that offers online courses on various topics taught by experts.
- LinkedIn Learning: A platform that offers online courses on various skills related to business, technology, or creativity.
One example of someone who gained work experience through creative education is Ryan Robinson, who is a successful blogger, podcaster, and entrepreneur. He says:
“I’ve taken dozens of online courses over the years to learn new skills like SEO, content marketing, web design, etc. These skills have helped me grow my blog audience, generate income, and land clients.”
As you can see, there are many unconventional ways to gain work experience and enhance your resume that you might not have thought of before. These are opportunities that can help you:
- Develop new skills or improve existing ones
- Showcase your abilities and potential
- Expand your network and exposure
- Make yourself more attractive to employers
- Open up new possibilities for your career
So don’t limit yourself to the conventional ways of gaining work experience. Take initiative and think outside the box. Explore these unconventional opportunities to enhance your resume and boost your career prospects