With summer here and school out, there are vast number of students – in both high school and college – looking for jobs. I got my first job with Education at Work almost straight out of high school in 2014. I’ve had this job going on three years in June. But before getting the job, I remember filling out a great deal of job applications and thinking about what I should write in the “prior work experience” field. The only thing I’d ever done that was close to a job was volunteer work at Good Samaritan Hospital. During my time there, I helped people find their way around the hospital and it felt like a real job to me. I had to clock in and clock out, had to wear a uniform, and I volunteered several hours every week. However, volunteering did not qualify as work experience, so I left that space blank on my job applications. I remember getting two callbacks; one was from Target. They had explained to me that they were not hiring for the position that I had applied for. The lady that I spoke to also informed me that my application would be in the system for another six months. The other callback was for a position where I’d be selling knives and kitchenware. I actually had an interview with them, but I didn’t hear back from them either. After that my friend told me about Education at Work and here I am almost three years later.
I believe employers look for two things: experience and communication skills. The one question that you will be asked continuously is “Do you have any work experience?” It’s frustrating that when you attempt to better yourself by getting a job, you can’t do so without prior work experience.
This summer my sister, Deneisha was going through that same frustration. Having completed her first year of college, she was finally ready to take another step into adulthood. Deneisha also volunteered with me at the hospital. Deneisha applied for several jobs and every time she saw that “prior work experience” part of the application, it would drive her crazy. “I’m never going to get a job, I don’t have work experience!” she’d say all throughout her job search. Deneisha had an interview at Michaels Craft Store and received a call from the manager with good news that she had gotten the job.
I think the best way to overcome the question of “Do you have prior work experience” is to volunteer, get out of your comfort zone, talk to people, and network through school and clubs. I always tell my sister to watch how you talk in school, in the workplace, and how you talk to your friends because you never know who is listening. I believe being able to communicate and talk to another person can overcome having no work experience, because showing that you can talk to someone is one thing that you will have to do no matter what you job you are looking to apply for. When you can communicate with a person it shows that you have the skills to learn.
About Dionne Lowe
I’m a 21 year old Psychology major. I go to UC Blue Ash. I love to read, write, Starbucks and planning. After I receive my associates degree, I want to go to UC Main campus and receive my Bachelor’s in psychology. I want to become a Forensic Psychologist.