Recently I listened to a podcast about a young man who had graduated from college just about the time of the market collapse in 2008.
He and his classmates could not find jobs. He was told that the best way to get
a job was to get an internship, but in his view, internships often mean menial work from 9-5. He decided that instead of starting out with an internship, he would work
At first I thought he sounded a little crazy, BUT he pointed out that working for free meant that HE got to pick the jobs! He offered his services to small companies and then larger ones and then added these experiences to his resume and portfolio. Within six months he landed a job doing what HE wanted to do.
My daughter had the same experience. She graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in graphic design and then went to work for special effects make up. (Yep, there is a school for that). As you can imagine, the competition for work is steep. Week after week, I called her and she told me about all the FREE work she was doing. (She was working a waitressing job to pay her bills and almost never slept!) I was VERY
UPSET and thought she was getting taken advantage of, (which she was and knew it, but kept “volunteering” anyway). After nearly a year of “working for free” she landed a job at Universal Studios. Would she have gotten a job there anyway? We’ll never know for sure, but one of the reasons she landed the job was because for someone with “no experience,” she had an extensive portfolio.
It made me think of my own situation. I have a lot of experience in elementary education and some limited experience in facilitation and training, but no experience as an Instructional Designer in eLearning, which is where I want to end up. So I picked up the phone and called an old acquaintance of mine who just happens to be the executive director of an education foundation and asked him if I could develop an eLearning class for him, FOR FREE, in return for letting me use the project for my portfolio and using him as a reference. He agreed.
I don’t know if the work will pay off. I guess I will find out after graduation.
I think that in most ways, working for free is very much like an internship in that it offers on-the-job training and experiential learning for those just entering the job market. I realize that some of you would consider this a luxury (after all, don’t we all have bills to pay?). I don’t think you have to do ‘free work” FULL TIME. In the T&D field, it can be done a few hours a week as freelance work. Even a little bit of work adds up over time and pumps up that ever-important portfolio.
Share your stories. What lengths have you gone to in order to land the job you wanted?
Ted Radio Hour (Producer). (2013, September 6). Is There A Better Way To Find
Work? (Audio podcast)