How a Work-Based Experience Can Help You Grow Your Career

How a Work-Based Experience Can Help You Grow Your Career

When you’re inexperienced in a certain field or want to dip your toe into an industry before committing to a permanent role, a work-based experience can provide the knowledge you need to advance. Work-based experiences can be both paid and unpaid. They typically include training and mentorship from more experienced professionals, so you can develop your skills in a supportive environment and learn on the job.

Many college students are familiar with internships, which are typically short-term work assignments in the field the student is studying in college. Work-based experiences like these are available to all types of professionals, wherever you are in your career. Learn more about work-based experiences you can explore and how they may help you grow your career.

What Are Work-Based Experiences?

Work-based experiences go by terms like externships, internships and apprenticeships. Here are some of the characteristics of each type of work-based experience.

  • Internship: An internship is a paid or voluntary position where someone learns a profession and industry, typically for several months. In unpaid positions, if the intern is enrolled in a college or university program, the intern may be eligible to earn college credit for their work.
  • Externship: An externship is typically a shorter assignment than an internship, sometimes lasting only a day or a few days, but up to several weeks or more. An externship may involve more shadowing and observing, so the extern can learn how an organization works and how individual professionals contribute to it.
  • Apprenticeship: Apprenticeships are commonly found in trade careers, like for automotive technicians, for example. They’re usually paid work-based experiences where an experienced professional with a full-time title teaches the apprentice how to succeed in the field.

Sometimes, apprenticeships, internships and externships can lead to full-time employment with the same employer. Some work-based experiences will pay a typical entry-level salary, while providing extra benefits like training and mentorship.

How to Find a Work-Based Experience

Employers post work-based experience positions with the understanding that those they bring on are eager to learn and likely don’t know everything about how to do the job. They give professionals the opportunity to learn an entirely new skill, while providing employers with the people power they need to have successful operations.

You can search typical job posting sites like Indeed for keywords like “intern,” “externship” and “apprenticeship” in your area. For example, a search of “apprenticeship” and “Boston, MA” brings up more than 350 available apprentice positions.

Some companies prioritize hiring interns, externs and apprentices using in-house resources, like referrals. That means, they might not post their open positions.

If you have a dream company in mind you want to work for, you can search for contacts on the business website and reach out to them via email. You could even call the company to try to talk with a department head and let them know you’re willing to get to work.

You can also use LinkedIn to network with professionals at the companies you’re interested in working for. Also, reach out to your contacts and let them know what types of work-based experiences you’re looking for, in case they have any leads.

Benefits of Work-Based Experiences

Experience matters for most jobs. The good news is, with work-based experiences, getting experience is the point. You can obtain a position with little experience and gain valuable skills that can help you in your next position.

Consider a work-based experience if:

Your resume is thin

A work-based experience gives you something new to add to your resume and LinkedIn profile. That’s powerful, since many resumes go through applicant tracking system scanning for specific keywords. The more diverse and meaningful experience you can add, the more your resume can stand out.

You have little work experience

Work-based experiences are popular with college students who don’t yet have professional experience. They’re a low-risk way to learn more about your passion and develop skills that can help you land a full-time entry-level role.

You want to change careers

You may not need to head back to school to start a new career. School can be expensive and time-consuming. A work-based experience gives you direct training and may even pay you in the process.

You want to try out an employer before committing

Going through the process to obtain a full-time, permanent position can also be time-consuming. You may feel pressured to stay in a position you hate just because you’ve recently been hired.

With work-based experiences, you gain more flexibility in your career path. You may be able to apply for a full-time position at the employer if that interests you, or move on with your new skills once the experience ends.

You want to invigorate your career path

If you’re feeling stalled and stagnant in your career, a work-based experience gives you something new to learn, which can lead to positive change. Accepting a work-based experience position can benefit you if you’ve been searching for a job for awhile with no luck, since it gives you something productive to focus on that can benefit your future career.

A work-based experience in a new field may also inspire you to shift your career trajectory, if you’re not feeling engaged with your current work.

Get Career Coaching for Work-Based Experiences and More

Work-based experiences can boost your career path with new opportunities, skills and connections. They can diversify your skillset and can lead to a more fulfilling job.

If you’re interested in a career change, you might also be interested in career coaching. Career coaching can help you identify careers you might excel at and can help you find relevant opportunities. Contact us for a free consultation

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