In job applications the applicants are often asked about their work-experience. But how do you gain work-experience in the first place? In a many professions you need somebody to employ you WITHOUT any experience so that you can gain some. Trying to get this first chance might be really tiring and frustrating.
But the good news is: if you want to become a programmer its much easier, you can gain experience even BEFORE you get your first job!
There are thousands of open source projects around you can engage with. Simply choose one that is written in the programming language that you want to learn or know and participate in open source development.
Here are just a few examples:
ownCloud - cloud storage (written in PHP / JS) https://owncloud.org/community/
Joomla - CMS (written in PHP / JS) https://developer.joomla.org/
GIMP image editor (Written in C, GTK+) https://www.gimp.org/develop/
LibreOffice Office Suite (Written in C++, Java, and Python) https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/
Just pick your favoured project and get involved! As an easy starting point you can:
look through the documentation and improve it
translate the project into your language
test new versions and file bug reports
work on easy-to-fix issues e.g. LibreOffice "Easy Hacks": https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Development/EasyHacks
ownCloud "junior jobs": https://github.com/owncloud/core/issues…
Here a good practical article how to start contributing: Demystifying Open Source Contributions
So get started! Make mistakes, get corrected and gain some real world work-experience! And make sure to list your activities for the next job application.
BTW. by writing open source software you will also do a great service to society.