How to skip entry-level and find your dream job right out of college

skip entry level
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If you are like I was as a University Junior or Senior, you’re chomping at the bit to get out of school.

It’s all you can do to keep completing your assignments (especially the ones that feel like busy work).

You’re ready to get out there and show the world what you’re made of. You’re ready to get your first “real” job. I’ve been there.

(PS: Here at GDB we believe every freelancer should put in a little time at a “desk job” to soak up industry knowledge and build relationships. You can see what we mean by reading “4 Reasons every freelancer should work at least one ‘desk job’.”  And if you’re not currently in college, this post can still apply to you. You’ll see what I mean by the end.)

Are there any great entry-level jobs out there?

But, if your job-hunting is anything like mine was, you’re also up against a wall because of one major problem:

You’ve read through the job description.

It sounds great!

You begin reading through the job requirements and it all looks great.

Degree? Check.

Positive attitude, problem solver, ambitious. Check, check, check.

And then you see it

There it is – the one thing that makes you wonder if you should even apply for this (dream job) position:

*Must have 3-5 years experience.

Bummer.

How are you supposed to apply for a job that requires 3-5 years experience?

So you pass it by.

The haunting 3-5 years experience requirement

But as you keep looking for “entry-level” jobs, you realize no one wants to hire you right out of school.

No one wants an inexperienced employee.

And it makes sense but it’s terribly haunting.

Here’s how to get the job anyway

I went through this process for about two months before I decided to shift my paradigm and apply for these “dream jobs” anyway.

If you really want it, here’s how you can skip the “entry-level” job and get your “dream job” right out of college.

At least here’s how I did it:

It all starts 3-5 years BEFORE you graduate

First, figure out what your passion is and what your dream job could be. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, if you don’t know what your dream job is, then how are you ever going to prepare for it?

Look forward 3-5 years and decide what your ideal situation is? If the “3-5 years” requirement didn’t exist, what jobs would you apply for today?

Next, start making experiences for yourself. One of the biggest problems college students make is to let life decide their fate and determine their experience instead of making experiences for themselves.

If you’re a marketing student (like I was), there’s no one stopping you from marketing your blog, product, ebook, youtube channel, etc.

If you’re an art student, there’s no rule against getting your illustrations published before you graduate.

If you’re a physical fitness student, who says you can’t be an ameteur-professional trainer while you’re still in school?

The real meaning of “3-5 years experience”

The key to all of this is understanding why employers put the “3-5 year” stipulation on their requirement list.

It’s not always because they want someone tainted with 3-5 years of culture and lifestyle from some other company.

Usually, it’s because they don’t want to have to teach you the basics.

They want you to prove you can take what you’ve learned in school and apply it to achieve real results.

Let me emphasize that: REAL results.

If you can prove that you’ve spent 3-5 years generating REAL results, then you’re golden.

Apply for that job.

And rock that interview!

How I did it

That’s exactly what I did.

I started this blog a few years before graduating and used it to release ebooks, sell courses, book advertisers, build an audience, engage in social media, and the list goes on.

So when they asked me what experience I had professionally in communications and marketing, I had a fully-loaded resume complete with quality education AND 3-5 years of my own experience.

Experience I made happen.

That’s how you skip over your entry-level job and land the job of your dreams.

Now it’s your turn!

Did I get it right? Have you had a similar experience in this sort of thing? Leave a comment on this post and let’s talk about it!

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. Great post. When I was at university I did exactly this which was ideal for going into a tough workforce. If you can’t start your own business or blog I highly recommend volunteering for a non-profit to build up your skills. They’re always in need for skilled volunteers and you don’t know how many times this has led to permanent employment, often in more senior positions.

    • Well said! I did non-profit work while job hunting and not only do you get experience and sometimes portfolio pieces, you also get a sense of accomplishment and purpose, which, when being rejected for lack of experience, helps you keep your chin up.

  2. Patty Corrigan says:

    I am a career counselor and I will be sharing your blog with my students.

  3. Hey Preston. Awesome post. It is amazing how easy it is to find freelance work online. I built up my experience through doing illustration a crowd sourcing site. I didn’t need the money at the time. Heck the money wasn’t good at all but added up after a while. Since I didn’t need it I ended up investing it somewhere else. The experience was golden. I learned about time management, and how to work with clients. It also helped my find my niche. And all of that experience happened in a few evenings a week. I now run a mascot illustration business.

  4. Hey Preston, Preston here…lol

    Anyway, you have given a wonderful advice here for all graduating students.

    I am also a Marketing professional. Back in my college days (which was like 4 years ago) I had a really wonderful mentor who gave me a similar advice. He told us that we are a very lucky generation who has the powerful tool, the Internet.

    He told us (2nd year marketing students) that now is the right time to start working on our marketing skills, like by starting a blog, making a network on social media, discussing on forums or by getting a freelance work even if it does not pay you much. He said right now we should focus on skill building only, along with studies. If you have good skills, you will have good pay in future. So, I started getting freelance internet marketing work and developed a portfolio.

    Thanks to his advice, I didn’t face any issues in landing a job after graduating.

    My advice to graduating students is similar to yours. Figure our your passion and start working on it. Don’t focus on earning money, rather earning experience.

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