So after working really hard in high school 🏫 you’ve managed to pass out with flying colours. With those grades, you’ve assured yourself a place in college 🎓. But then once you are in college you try to explore your dream career but have no past work experience. So what do you do?
Recently, I was asked by my juniors on how I got started with gaining some solid work experience while I was at university. When I stepped into university I had absolutely no prior work experience but during my first few months, I observed that there are three qualities that make people with little to no past work experience successful in their job.
They are: Being Real, Enthusiasm, and Perseverance.
When I set out, marketing was a distant dream and every position that was advertised required a minimum of 3-4 years of past experience, something that I lacked at that point in time. With absolutely no past marketing experience at hand, I was ready to take up anything as I strongly believed that if I start from the bottom, I would get to learn something. This mindset helped me to secure my first marketing & external relations position with a transnational conglomerate.
So how did I get this role with absolutely no previous experience?
1. Being Real
Being real helped me to speak my mind during the interview. I was able to bring the “real me” to the interview. I didn’t fake my experience nor read a pre-planned and scripted manual. I was aware that I had no past experience, so I took a bit of effort to communicate my interest in this field and willingness to do whatever it takes to be onboard and start getting work done for my so to be managers.
This is something that is really important. No matter what your outlook and attitude are, enthusiasm does matter a lot, especially in an interview.No company wants to hire or work with someone who is full of negativity. You need to make every interview an opportunity to grow and expand your professional network. You need to make the most out of it.
If these factors cannot be fulfilled then your interview may not be that great, then automatically your enthusiasm will lack, which may give a feeling to the interviewee that the job might not be the best fit for you. In my case, I was able to cover up my lack of experience with enthusiasm because when I look at it at the end of the day, these job roles were more than the monthly paycheck, as I considered them as a learning opportunity.
Perseverance is the key to success as without perseverance, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. Job searching isn’t going to be easy, especially while being in university with little to no work experience. I took up my first role at AIESEC (a non-profit international youth organization) to explore my interest in marketing, leadership and external relations, which quickly became my learning ground for all my other work afterwards.
After my first role with the organisation, I launched an exhibition brand in Dubai, United Arab Emirates which went on to do great in the market in a very short time. We were growing 40% year on year and also attracted leading global brands, local media and a whole lot of buzz in the market (FYI: These were the initial days when digital marketing was in its infancy stage and we used it effectively)
Moving forward in the year 2014, I sold the exhibition brand rights to my co-partner and exited the firm to step into a formal corporate working environment.
The skills and experiences that I learned on the way were very useful to me in my early corporate days and I wouldn’t have had such experiences if I remained inside those closed four walls.
Now I keep encouraging all those 19+ youngsters to step up and startup to gain some real work experience when you are in college. Your work during college would help you make your career or you may find your entrepreneurial drive within you and go on to build great things.
A great man once said: Dream big and make it happen.
So I’d say Persevere, be real and enthusiastic. At the end of the day, it’s all about how much you want it and how hard you are going to fight for it.