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How to Obtain Job Experience Without Having Any Experience

Looking at the massive pile of company pamphlets, career guides, and cover letter drafts sitting on my desk, I think back to this time last year when I was aimlessly applying to summer internships, only to be frustrated with the results. I look forward to this year as I prepare for an interview coming up in a few days and realize the difference instantly. This past summer, I got my “foot in the door” with a small start-up company internship and I am already seeing the benefits that past work experience provides when applying for jobs.

CNN posted an article discussing the difficulty of competing in today’s job market without having any past experience to bolster one’s resume. It is no secret that employers today want to hire people with experience, but how does one go about obtaining that experience without any to begin with? As discussed in the source article, selling yourself in other ways could also land you the job. Playing up leadership experiences, academic background, and extracurricular activities are all a great way to show one’s strengths and qualities. Showing dedication is a key component in any job-search. For college students, attending company information sessions, networking with employers, and researching the company before an interview will also shed some positive light on the kind of person that you are. In the long run, employers will look for candidates that are willing to be trained and do better, and showing this may also get you the experience that you desire. Although obtaining that first internship may be a dilemma for young job-seekers everywhere, it is not an impossible task. From personal experience, the first step is the hardest, but after that, a world of opportunity is opened.

The employment network described above could be modeled as a matching market, in which the employers are the “buyers” and the applicants are the “sellers.” Employers are looking to hire (“buy”) the most able candidate to fill a desired position within their company, while the applicants are trying to “sell” their skills to a company that they are applying for. Each company will then provide a “valuation” for each candidate available in the market- a numerical score that indicates the company’s perspective on how well the applicant will meet the needs of the position they are trying to fill. This valuation will be based on a number of different assessments, but as discussed previously, having relevant past experience will increase an applicant’s value significantly. There may be a scenario in which multiple companies value a specific candidate very highly. In this case, the candidate is considered to be in “high demand” and will wind up receiving a job at his or her preferred choice. However, the rest of the companies still need able applicants to fill their positions, in which it is necessary to create a “market-clearing” situation. Companies will have to lower their standards slightly to end up with a candidate that they will still be happy with, even if he or she was not their intended first choice. This is analogous to inputting a “price” on the sellers within the job market. Therefore, the company’s payoff in the end will be the original valuation of the applicant subtracted by the “price” of lowering their standards to find a candidate that creates a perfect-matching situation in the network. In the end, however, all of the companies will end up with a capable new hire. This situation is portrayed below by the bipartite graph, in which a small sample of Cornell University students are applying to numerous job offerings at different companies.

For the sake of this argument, it is assumed that every applicant that applies for a job will wind up receiving a job in the end. Looking at the bigger picture, this scenario is very unlikely in the real-world job market. There are more people applying for a certain amount of positions than there are actual positions, in which not every candidate will wind up receiving a job in the companies that they desire. Therefore, constricting sets do exist within the global job market. As a job-hunter in this current market, it would be much less stressful if perfect-matching did exist!


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