Ways to Gain Relevant Experience Besides Unpaid Internships

College career centers, like the one at my university, place a big focus on the importance of interning. This is understandable, as internships are a great opportunity to develop professional skills and gain work experience. However, I disagree with the notion that everyone should take the opportunity to intern if presented with the chance. In particular, unpaid internships. While this is a hot topic that I won’t fully get into, I struggle to find how unpaid internships are beneficial to both parties. If the company does not value their employee enough to pay them for their work, how valuable can the internship be? In addition, some students are not in the financial position where they can comfortably be in a role without compensation. So, if you are unable to find an internship for compensation or class credit, don’t worry. Here are four other ways to gain relevant experience.

Volunteer roles

If you’re looking to gain experience, try volunteering! Volunteer roles provide the opportunity to gain experience according to your schedule and interests. Unlike unpaid internships, you can often dictate the time commitment you want to volunteer. This is great because you can maintain your other commitments, like school and work, but still develop professionally. Online volunteer search sites, like VolunteerMatch, are great tools for finding volunteer opportunities relevant to your field of interests.

On-campus clubs

A great way to get experience is through your on-campus organizations! As an example, previous to Her Campus Pitt, I had no experience in event planning or writing outside of an academic setting. I have held two leadership roles during my time as an undergraduate (one of which was being the Social Media Coordinator for Her Campus Pitt!), and both helped me develop professionally. Each role gave me the skills and talking points needed to help earn my past internships. So, not to be cliché, but get involved! 

Online learning

 There are dozens of great online learning programs that can walk you through the skills needed to land your dream position. Online courses are great because they can be completed at each learner’s own pace. So, have a busy week or had to pick-up extra shifts at your part-time job? No problem, the training will be waiting for you online. At the University of Pittsburgh, every student gets free access to LinkedIn Learning. This online program has thousands of course available – I’m currently working my way through Photoshop Fundamentals. All you need is an active Pitt account, and a LinkedIn! If you don’t have a LinkedIn, which is a great tool to network and find roles, you can set one up for free. Happy learning!

Training seminars

Universities like Pitt often offer out-of-class workshops and training seminars. These sessions can help you gain experience and certificates that will look great on a resume. Visit the career center to see what type of learning experiences they have set up for the spring semester!