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if experience < 1: job = False

We have all heard the saying, "in order to get a job, you need experience". But how can we get experience if we need prier work experience for a job that could give us experience?

So, I am a young adult who has had an interest in all areas of IT for quite some time now. I went into studies straight out of high school and completed a certificate 3, 4, diploma, advanced diploma and only recently, a bachelor's degree of IT & network security, all within roughly 3 years. I studied full-time and never got a job as I did not require it at the time. Teachers would always say "get a degree", and I grew up thinking that it was the best thing one could do to make them more employable. I was wrong.

Recently after finishing my degree, I have come to realise that finding a job in all IT areas is not about a degree at all. I thought that I would be employed easily because, well, who wouldn't want a young enthusiastic 20 year old with a degree? I am also a citizen of my country which could help me stand out more.

Understandably, employers want people with experience. I didn't know how much experience until I started applying for jobs. Junior jobs for cyber security, IT support and even helpdesk all want some prier work and/or IT experience which I do not have. I would apply for multiple jobs a day and not hear back from all of them. I have been looking, applying, and hoping for some weeks now but have got nothing. Maybe it's just the time period with all this COVID-19, but it is still worrying to think that I could have achieved all these certificates for nothing. I have had experience with all different technologies during my studies but never actual work experience. Many times we would have practical labs to do in class using physical equipment.

The reason I am writing this is to ask, what would help me in obtaining a job? How can I stand out? Many other friends of mine are going through similar scenarios. I have called up a few places asking for work experience but understandably they declined due to insurance issues. How else could I get work experience? I have also had people review my resume and they agree that there is nothing wrong. I should point out that I live in Australia so there is plenty of opportunities, it's just that all want some sort of experience.

It would be great to hear from an employer to hear what they have to say. What can help me get a job?

Top comments (6)

ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

Not an employer, but I do have some advice as someone who had been in a similar situation and got insanely lucky (twice).

First, get a job. Any job. It doesn't have to be IT work, it doesn't even have to be computer related, it just has to be something you can put on your resumé as work experience. There are two reasons it's important to have a job even if it's not in your desired field:

  1. Barring the types of jobs a high-schooler might get and some really rare cases, just about nobody is going to even consider hiring you if you don't have any work experience at all.
  2. It's a lot easier to job hunt when you have a stable income.

Second, look for other opportunities to fill out your resumé. Maybe there's some charity you can do IT work for on a volunteer basis near where you live. Perhaps there's some big FOSS project you could contribute to. The idea here is to find things you can do without needing to be paid for them (and thus with a much lower requirement for existing experience) which prospective employers will likely consider as some form of experience, even if it's not regular work experience.

Third, network (socially) as much as possible. It's admittedly hard to do under the current circumstances, but a large part of what gets you hired is who you know, not what you know. Building up an online presence that's related to your desired field helps a lot here. Additionally, if you actively work on the second point, it will often naturally help with this one.

Fourth, look for other ways to improve your value as a prospective employee. Easy examples include learning a new language (Mandarin Chinese is probably the most valuable right now, but Hindi, Spanish, French, and Arabic are also pretty high up there) or getting additional certifications related to your preferred field (most cloud providers provide some type of certification related to their services, these look very good on a resumé when applying for an IT position).

In my particular case, those second and third points are what landed me my current job at Netdata Inc. I worked on the FOSS Netdata project for a couple of years (at one point I was actually one of the top four contributors by number of commits) and developed a rather good working relationship with both the other developers and the community, and that in turn turned into a job offer when Netdata Inc originally started up.

zw5jcnlwdgvk profile image

Wow. That's really helpful, thank you. I think obtaining some voluntary experience is a great idea. I have looked before but never seen many IT-related volunteer jobs but I will keep a look out. I will also search for any job even outside the IT areas because you made a good point. I could have gone for the certifications, it is just that I do not really know what I want to do. My main goal is cyber security but I don't want to spend money on certificates to realise the jobs arnt for me until I get a taste of the jobs and can say that I do enjoy a specific area. I like trying new things however I am able to get AWS cloud and architecture certifications so I will look into that.

Thank you for your help and advice.

190245 profile image

On the subject of qualifications, I think they're a rather poor metric of ability. That's why, without work experience, many people find it almost impossible to get work.

At highschool, I was predicted the best results possible, across all subjects, so I stopped trying. I walked away with mediocre (at best) grades, and started working in bars to fund myself through college/university.

At college, I found I liked the party life too much, and my Computing lecturer would often mark me down for not completing paperwork (while 90% of the class "borrowed" my code, did the paperwork, and got better marks - and the lecturer knew full well what was happening).

But that was my first lucky break, because the lecturer knew I could do the work, but couldn't be bothered with the paperwork, when the system admin came asking for help, the lecturer pointed him to me. I spent that summer upgrading a co-ax network to ethernet, along with installing pcs, setting up new software etc.

Because that work was easy, and I also wrote software to automate parts of it, the system admin recommended me to friends, and I found myself working on very prestigious projects, earning more money a year than both my parents could, combined, in a decade!

Then I went to university, and enjoyed the party life too much, so dropped out after 4 months (still with a large debt).

So I went back to working in bars, and at one point, had a job cleaning out garbage trucks at the end of the day!

At some point, I learnt that experience & effort were key. So I planned my career somewhat. I moved from bars to sales, and then technical sales. I had a time where I ran my own business (installing telecomms & networks). I then moved to IT support, through QA and into development.

Each one of those steps was carefully planned, in terms of direction, but not always timing. That made the interview question of "why do you want to work here?" much easier to answer.

Now, I'm not only Lead & Architect, but a manager responsible for a development team.

Qualifications aren't useless, but they're not as important as teachers & lecturers make out. For example, I know that if you spend time working in a bar, you'll be reasonably ok working under pressure, or dealing with a code review that's descended into an argument, etc.

zw5jcnlwdgvk profile image

Thanks so much. It's good to hear from another perspective and was very inspiring.

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Contribute to open source projects and work on your own personal projects at the same time. Continue to network with other developers and recruiters on Linkedin. This will build your network. Eventually you will get noticed.

zw5jcnlwdgvk profile image

Thank you. I do have a number of connections on LinkedIn that I met at events so it's worth a try to contact them for opportunities.