A Catch 22 – How to Gain Experience, When You Don’t Have Any!

catch 22

As someone who graduated from Clemson University with a marketing degree during a terrible economy, I didn’t have a real plan or direction for my life after graduation. With classroom related experience, summer jobs and a pseudo “internship” with a start-up retail company, there was an endless list of jobs I was unqualified for. It wasn’t until I got an opportunity to take an unpaid internship in Washington, DC that things really started to fall into place. From that little bit of exposure in a professional environment, the fact that I was constantly networking and meeting new people and was getting heavily involved with the DC Clemson Young Alumni Club, I landed my first job earlier than I anticipated.

To put it all simply, I will quote the common adage of which I am a firm believer, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I understand this sounds repetitive and cheesy, but it is TRUE! The more you are able to broaden your network, expose yourself to new people and get your name out there, opportunities will come to you. There is no shame in taking an unpaid internship, volunteering to help a friend’s business or lending your time to local non-profits. You never know the connections of the people that you meet and will be surprised by what doors may open to the next steps on your career path.

The connections I made got me to where I am today and I am grateful for every opportunity that has been presented, even if I could not see where those opportunities were taking me at the time. Through my participation in the DC Clemson Young Alumni Club, I was invited to attend a dinner with the Clemson Board of Visitors a few years ago. Little did I know that our very own president and owner, Julie Godshall Brown, would be in attendance! Ultimately, that surprise run-in led me to my job at Godshall and brought me back to Greenville where I am actively involved in the community, both personally and professionally.

To further my point, my dad has always told me, “Anyone can help you get an interview; it is up to YOU to get the job.” I like to add to that “and keep the job,” because in a competitive job market, it is up to you to define your career. Staying engaged in the professional community, keeping your skills relevant and sharp, not being afraid to help others (for free!) when they need it and always performing to the best of your abilities will continue to set you apart from the noise!

Written by:

Rebecca ReedRebecca Reed Faulk Rebecca is a native of Greenville, SC and graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. After graduation, Rebecca moved to Washington, DC for an internship with the Republican National Committee. From there, Rebecca was hired to support a local fundraising and development firm, The LS Group. She then went to work for a non-profit and think tank, the Charles Koch Institute, in an operational capacity handling their events and programming logistics. Rebecca has been with Godshall since June of 2012 and specializes in recruiting and staffing for their professional sector; including secretarial, administrative, customer service, accounting and human resources.

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