How to Gain More Experience for Your First “Big Girl” Job

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The scariest thing about entering senior year of college is worrying about what to do after college. At least, that’s how I feel right now as I’m about to begin my final year of undergrad education. While I work hard to earn good grades at an esteemed college and I have some work experience under my belt, I still worry that it won’t be enough. It seems that most jobs these days require two to three years of experience, but how can you gain that when you’re still earning a degree? I don’t exactly have “real job experience” in my field, after all. (Partly because, as an English major emphasizing in Creative Writing, I don’t know exactly what my field is yet!)

However, after really thinking about it, I realized that I have done a ton of great things that I can put on a resume or talk about in an interview that could potentially help me land a job. I run a chapter of Her Campus at my college. I work as an office assistant when I’m at school and have a retail job when I’m at home. In an effort to gain more experience, I completed an internship for a small publishing company this summer. And contributing to Miss Millennia is a great opportunity too! Hopefully, all of these things will work in my favor over the next few months.

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If you’ve been worrying about the same things I do, there is something you can do about it. Keep reading to learn about some ways that you can gain more experience for your first “big girl” job! Then after you’re finished reading, get busy making your dreams come true.

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Invest Yourself in Your Hobbies

Having a hobby is a great way to develop a skill or talent that could actually help you professionally. Even if your hobby isn’t directly related to your field, excelling in something takes dedication, and that’s a desired characteristic for any job candidate. Also, you can always further your education after college by taking a class or earning a certificate or license that is related to your hobby. Companies love to hire people who are multi-talented because it means that you are able to look at a situation in multiple ways, not just one.

Jannise Watts, Creative Director of Miss Millennia, attributes her ability to get a job investing to the fact that she first made a hobby of it. She says: “I have my degree in art and looked for jobs in that field…It was only when I broadened my horizons a little and started looking into other fields that I found my job…I thought I would need a degree in finance to be a broker. But after doing research I found that my company paid for me to get all the licensing that I need.”

You never know where a hobby may take you in life, so don’t stop doing what you love just because you think it might not pay off in the future.

gain more experience by reading books
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Start a Side Hustle

“Side hustle” is one of those buzz words that you hear all over the Internet now. They’re really great because they act as an extra little boost to your income. A lot of times, you can turn a hobby into a side hustle!

Jasmine Watts, Editor-in-Chief of Miss Millennia, says that starting a side hustle really helped her land her first major job. And guess what, her side hustle was Miss Millennia! Regarding her first job search, she says: “I was shot down over and over again…because I had a degree but no experience. So I started Miss Mill and all of a sudden people called me back. It was like magic…I had a job only a few months after [Miss Millennia Magazine] got started.”

Even if your side hustle doesn’t turn into a substantial career, it could open doors for you. At the very least, it will earn you some extra shopping money or help you pay the bills.

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Jasmine wrote quite an extensive article with 17 ideas on starting a side hustle of your very own here. You should check it out. 

Work With Kids

There are so many ways to work with children that can help you develop important skills. You can babysit, teach music lessons, tutor, or work at a summer camp. All of these opportunities improve your patience, organization, and leadership skills. The great thing about teaching lessons or tutoring is that you can have the job relate to your field—whether it’s math, English, a language, or music. Plus, you can earn some cash. Many people might not think to put their babysitting experience on a resume, but it demonstrates that you are responsible and reliable. Don’t discount any of the experiences you’ve had!

gain more experience by working with kids
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Get Involved with Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities can often relate to your field and will show your level of commitment to your interests. If you’re an English or Creative Writing major, you could contribute to a campus publication. If you’re a History or Political Science major, you could be on your college’s Model UN team. Getting involved with a club that relates to your major will allow you to learn more about that subject and also meet people who share your passion.

Another great thing about extracurriculars is that they don’t necessarily need to have anything to do with what you’re studying. Sort of like hobbies, they can allow you to develop an extra skill that you could potentially make use of in the future.

Complete an Internship

Internships are an amazing opportunity to test out a potential job or company. While you might not be paid for your hard work, an internship gives you the chance to learn the ropes of a particular field.

One of the Staff Writers here at Miss Millennia, Sarah White, says that completing an internship really helped her gain more experience in her field. Rachelle Froyalde, the Content Creator and Editor here at Miss Millennia, also cites her internship as being a positive influence on her job prospects—she was actually hired by the same company she interned for! She says: “It helped me be immersed more in the work environment of the company. I think it also helped for me to be hired, since they could closely see…my skills.”

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to be hired by the same company you intern for, an internship (paid or unpaid) is an excellent way to gain more experience in your field of interest.

gain more experience with an internship
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Have a Seasonal Part-Time Job

In today’s world, when internships seem to be incredibly important, some people might devalue having a seasonal part-time job. However, they should not be overlooked as a way to gain more experience. While you might not want to work retail or wait tables for a living, having one of these jobs (or a similar one) for a summer will allow you to build a relationship with your boss, who can later give you a recommendation.

I’ve worked a seasonal, part-time retail job for the past three years. I originally got the job because I wanted to make some money while I was home for the summer, and didn’t think much of it. Because of all the wonderful people I work with, though, I absolutely fell in love with it. I also love helping people find outfits that make them feel confident! While I don’t want to work retail for the rest of my life, I know that having three years at one job will look good on my resume.

Work a Job at School

Many college students seek out a job on campus. It’s an easy way to help ease the burden of college expenses. A lot of the time, though, students get a job that they think will be the easiest or do something they don’t think they’ll enjoy. That doesn’t have to be the case.

Maggie Collett, a Staff Writer for Miss Millennia, knows that her work experience during college was a big plus for her. It actually helped her determine her career path! She says: “My job in the student activities office really resonated with me and now I know that I want to work on a college campus as my big kid job. It provided both clarity and a valuable experience.”

An on-campus job—whether you need one as part of a work-study program or just to earn some extra cash—can actually be a very valuable experience.You never know what job will allow you to gain more experience and help you in the future!

gain more experience with a job on campus
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Volunteer at a Non-Profit

Volunteer experience can be invaluable, both personally and professionally. It can be a great opportunity to gain more experience in a particular field and test out whether it could be for you.

Another Staff Writer at Miss Millennia, Tavinia Tucker, says her volunteer experience helped her land her first “big girl” job. “My volunteering experience helped show me what I liked about that field and what I wanted to stay away from. It also provided me with some networking opportunities,” she says.

You never know where networking opportunities will come from! Volunteering can be a great opportunity to meet people who will help you break into an industry and jumpstart your career.

Create Your Own Opportunities

Haven’t found a way that makes you excited to gain more experience for your first “big girl” job? Well, job candidates who demonstrate ingenuity, creativity, and initiative impress companies. You can show that you have all of these traits by creating your own unique opportunity. Start a club at school or organize a new all-campus event. If you can see a need and come up with a way to fill it yourself, this will reflect well on you.

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If you can do one or more of the things listed above, then you will be able to gain more experience that will help jumpstart your career. Find what works best for you! We wish you the best of luck in your future career.


Resources: Fastweb, The Muse


Musings from a current college senior on how to prepare to enter the job market. How do you gain more experience for the job you want?

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  1. I am in my final year for my associates degree in Business Management and have a ton of retail experience so I feel like I would qualify for a job if I decided to apply for some banking or managerial positions but I do want to further my education and get a Bachelors in Marketing so I’m not sure if my experience would be good enough for that type of field. Definitely should start looking into that to build my experience for that field!

    1. I totally agree! It feels good when you know you’re doing something that you’re good at and that puts something positive out into the world. Thanks for reading!

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