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How Do I Gain Business Experience?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Those looking for business experience may have some luck volunteering, freelancing or completing an apprenticeship or internship via a college program. Job seekers entering the workforce often face a difficult situation: they cannot find a job because they don't have enough work experience, and they cannot get work experience because they cannot get a job. This means getting business experience is both necessary and challenging.

One of the easiest ways to gain business experience is volunteering in nonprofit organizations. These organizations may have very specific goals, but they still require work found in regular businesses. For example, if the nonprofit is a group that fixes homes for the poor, the group still needs someone to coordinate with vendors for building materials, someone else to keep track of payments and bills, another person to come up with the architectural plan for the repairs, and still another person to review applications from homeowners. Pay in these groups is not guaranteed, but those who do a good job can walk away with business experience and subsequent job reference.

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Freelancing is another viable option for gaining business experience. Freelancers have to work very hard to network and get the next client interested, but the advantage of freelancing is that the freelancer has to learn managerial skills. He is responsible for all aspects of his business, including scheduling, quality assurance, billing, negotiating contracts and handling taxes. This gives a freelancer valuable insights into what bosses need and why, and the freelancer's ability to control and succeed at his own business can look favorable on a resume. Even if the freelancer does not get paid, he can negotiate doing the work for an official business title that he can list in his work history.

College training programs often provide business experience, as well. Some programs are apprenticeships based on a partnership between the academic institution and real businesses willing to train those entering a field. For example, mechanics can train directly in auto shops, alternating the hands-on training with in-class work. Some apprentice programs provide formal certifications that employers want.

A way to get business experience related to college training programs is with an internship. Some academic institutions require formal internships to be completed prior to granting a certificate or degree. Internships usually are the last part of formal training. They may be paid or unpaid. During an internship, as with an apprenticeship, students learn how to complete business tasks or apply previously acquired skills on the job, usually under the direct supervision of an experienced worker. Some internship programs provide job placement following the completion of the internship.

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clintflint
Post 3

@umbra21 - I just want to add that you can't go wrong with volunteering. Employers love seeing that on your resume and you can get experience and references that would otherwise be out of reach for a beginner.

And the best thing about gaining business experience is that almost every single volunteer organization you could imagine could use that kind of help.

umbra21
Post 2

@browncoat - It is important to make sure that you take the right opportunities though, rather than just the ones that are handed to you. If you want to do something specific after you graduate, that's what you should concentrate on, particularly in terms of experience. Colleges will often try to funnel students into career niches that aren't popular, which can be good if you don't know what you want to do. But if you do know what you want, it's up to you to tailor your experiences so that you will be able to achieve it once you leave school.

Take on the right kinds of internships and part-time jobs so that you build up your resume to the point where you will be able to step into your dream job.

browncoat
Post 1

One thing to consider is that many universities offer a job finding service for their students that is similar to a temping agency in that it looks specifically for short term assignments. This is a great way to network as well as gain some business experience, but it's generally not going to involve very in-depth work.

Your school wants you to get a job, if nothing else, because it makes them look good, so make sure you take every opportunity they offer, both while you're there, and as an alumni.

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