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How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experience?

pricescopenewbie

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 23, 2015
Messages
202
Hey my fellow PSers! hope this Friday is a nice one for you - hopefully all work is done smoothly by the end of the day and a great weekend awaits!

So once again I am here for your great suggestions, since I know a lot PSers have gained great success in your career. I truly hope to get inspirations from you!

My question is: how could I get my foot in the door for something I really want to do while I don't have a lot experience?

And a little intro of my background so it will be easy to give advice:

I graduated as a Ph. D. in a field of Biology. Over the years working for my phd project, I realized that staying in a lab and doing research is not my passion. On the contrary, I like doing the reading, writing and organizing work for my project. e.g. one of the most relaxed and enjoyable time for me everyday was to sit down reading peer review papers and writing my own manuscripts. I also liked reading regulations and guidelines, and helped my lab set up a whole set of SOPs. For one of my projects, I had 20ish people from different labs and dept. to work together with me. One of the professors involved in the project told my major professor that it was "one of the best organized project she ever attended" since she joined our university.

So upon my graduation, I launched myself on an administrative position instead of being a scientist. I have learnt a lot and soon I found the next step I want to take - being a regulatory affairs management personnel - since this is exactly what I like to do: understanding and interpreting regulations, writing and organizing documentations, and paying attention to details. I have sent out a round of resumes and got a few phone interviews, but I was stopped there every time. I got feedback from a couple recruiters and both told me the employers wanted someone more experienced. I understand why the employers rejected me. But how can I get experience if no one would give me a chance to? I even sent out a bunch emails asking if anyone would give me an intern or volunteer opportunity but no response at all :wall:

Anyone could give me any suggestion? my current work is related but not directly related. my education does not prepare me for this field. How can I convince people I can do well and just give me that one chance I need?

Thanks a lot for reading this long post of mine. I hope to hear your story on how you get yourself started! Many thanks in advance!
 

VRBeauty

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 2, 2006
Messages
10,228
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

I was in environmental protection on the government side - which included writing and interpreting regulations, among a whole host of other things. Have you considered looking for your starting job in government rather than the corporate world? Many government organizations that have a scientific component have their own laboratories - for research, monitoring, or enforcement purposes. Those that don't have their own laboratories need people to interface with the hired labs. Our labs even developed new measurement techniques and sometimes tools when needed. It's important work that would probably challenge you.

I mention this avenue in part because on paper, at least, the hiring process is supposed to be a bit more objective than what you might find elsewhere. I didn't work in the labs, but I did hire people into technical positions. "Experience," whether through internships or volunteer/low paid positions did help applicants stand out from the crowd and help demonstrate that the applicant had more than just book learning, as well as providing good references. If it's possible, you might consider casting a wider net - look for positions that might not be directly related to positions you ultimately want but that allow you to use and demonstrate related skills.
 

PintoBean

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
6,383
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

I found that searching through my college's career site was helpful when I didn't have experience because usually an employer who posted there was at least regional and familiar with the programs at the college, and WANTED someone who had gone through that curriculum.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,199
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

Start at the bottom, cleaning toilets and licking ash trays.
Prove yourself and work your way up.
Shut up and kiss some @sses.

IMO, snowflakes today are too proud, arrogant, and entitled.
... the result of a childhood of, "Everyone gets a prize!"
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
17,761
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

kenny|1465579127|4042708 said:
Start at the bottom, cleaning toilets and licking ash trays.
Prove yourself and work your way up.
Shut up and kiss some @sses.

IMO, snowflakes today are too proud, arrogant, and entitled.
... the result of a childhood of, "Everyone gets a prize!"
The OP is asking how she can get a foot in the door, and mentioned they have even asked for intern or volunteer positions. This is not uncommon, never has been. She is looking for a way to GET experience, not walk right into something, as I understand her post.

Pricescopenewbie, networking is key. Do you belong to any social groups related to your field, or sports, or anything which would allow you to meet people who already work for the organizations where you would like to gain employment? Sometimes getting that first chance to prove yourself depends on who you know, who is willing to stick their neck out for you because they trust you as a person and think you'll do a good job. Ask your professors or colleagues to write letters of recommendation for you. Socialize with people who already have positions at the places you want to work. Get as much face time as you can with your targeted cohorts and don't give up. Good luck!
 

azstonie

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
3,758
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

I was a regulations specialist for the Alaska DEC. Wrote the drinking water regs, policies, and procedures/guidance manual for water utilities. I then became an environmental scientist/project manger of a $450 M DOD CERCLA site.

I started at DEC as a clerk. No job beneath me, I did everything with a smile and did it correctly and on schedule. I worked harder than anyone else when the promotional opportunity came up with the drinking water program. While my coworkers were going to the gym and the bars after work, I was at my desk learning everything about drinking water regs, policies and procedures. They went in for the interview and tried to BS their way into the job. I went in with the books of the existing regs, the Federal regs, and other EPA Regional state's regs and said "I know these. I'll start this job day 1 writing regulations that satisfy the Federal requirements while working within Alaska's unique distance/travel issues. "
 

sonnyjane

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
2,471
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

VRBeauty|1465545476|4042546 said:
I was in environmental protection on the government side - which included writing and interpreting regulations, among a whole host of other things. Have you considered looking for your starting job in government rather than the corporate world? Many government organizations that have a scientific component have their own laboratories - for research, monitoring, or enforcement purposes. Those that don't have their own laboratories need people to interface with the hired labs. Our labs even developed new measurement techniques and sometimes tools when needed. It's important work that would probably challenge you.

I mention this avenue in part because on paper, at least, the hiring process is supposed to be a bit more objective than what you might find elsewhere. I didn't work in the labs, but I did hire people into technical positions. "Experience," whether through internships or volunteer/low paid positions did help applicants stand out from the crowd and help demonstrate that the applicant had more than just book learning, as well as providing good references. If it's possible, you might consider casting a wider net - look for positions that might not be directly related to positions you ultimately want but that allow you to use and demonstrate related skills.
Exactly this! Last year I was looking at job postings and found MANY environmental listings doing exactly what you describe. That's NOT what I was passionate about (I wanted to be in the field) but NOAA, for example, frequently posts for positions as you're mentioning!
 

anne_h

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
1,004
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

This is not my industry, but I totally agree with the networking recommendation. Do you have any former profs or classmates in the field that you could reach out to?

Checking out employment programs at your school is also a good idea... many of them have job boards for recent grads or alumni. You can always contact that program's administrator and see if s/he has any recommendations or helpful connections.

You could also take it a step further and try the "informational interviews" angle... identify the companies/orgs of interest, and reach out to people there who either hold or oversee the types of roles you are interested in.

If any of them are on LinkedIn, that may be an easy and unobtrusive way to reach them... In this case, be sure you have a nice profile up there first, highlighting your relevant qualifications and accomplishments, *before* contacting anyone. lol

Anne
 

chemgirl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2009
Messages
1,995
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

PintoBean|1465577103|4042693 said:
I found that searching through my college's career site was helpful when I didn't have experience because usually an employer who posted there was at least regional and familiar with the programs at the college, and WANTED someone who had gone through that curriculum.
I also found this helpful! My first place of employment actually used a boardroom at the University to conduct interviews.

I didn't even have the required degree, but related intern experience. It really helped to find out as much as possible about the company and their culture before the interview. I wasn't just talking about the position, but about how I was excited to be part of their team. Apparently I was the only applicant to do that so I got the job over PhD's mwahaha.

This position was to do research and to help represent the company at technical conferences. They were much more concerned with skills demonstrated and culture fit than anything else.
 

pricescopenewbie

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 23, 2015
Messages
202
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

Thank you everyone soooo very much for your advice! they are so helpful and practical!

It is a great point to network and to broaden up my hunting radius. I will definitely try government, institutions and other organizations I haven't searched before. As far as the network going, I might not be able to use my professor and previous connections in school very much since most of them are focused on academia and it is not very related to the regulatory affairs. But I did sneaked in a couple gathering together events in the last couple weeks and found out one company that a lot of the companies in the event seem to use for regulatory services in town. I am planning to email some of the people in this company and ask for informative interviews. I haven't done this before, so any advice on how I should write the emails to get these people want to meet me? and what should i prepare for the interviews?

azstonie, I am so inspired by your experience! you definitely interpreted that fortune favors the prepared mind! and I am very encouraged by everyone else's! I really really appreciate everyone's input!
 

PintoBean

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
6,383
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

I just thought of something. Maybe you can reach out to people in that industry in a mentorship capacity? Maybe when you reach out to them, you can see if they have positions available, and if not, find out if that person would be interested in mentoring you so that you can be better prepped to take on that industry you're interested in. It's also a way to network, and demonstrate your interest, assertiveness, and skill set.
 

DNB

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 29, 2011
Messages
64
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

Too bad you don't want to use your degree.
 

anne_h

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
1,004
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

pricescopenewbie|1465694750|4043070 said:
But I did sneaked in a couple gathering together events in the last couple weeks and found out one company that a lot of the companies in the event seem to use for regulatory services in town. I am planning to email some of the people in this company and ask for informative interviews. I haven't done this before, so any advice on how I should write the emails to get these people want to meet me? and what should i prepare for the interviews?
Great job on attending the gathering event and getting information about the regulatory services company! You are being proactive and putting yourself out there, which is going much farther than a lot of people would. Awesome!

So for the informational interviews... (and this is all just my own personal opinion, as someone who has been in leadership roles for a good chunk of their career)... I would suggest to just be open and transparent. Explain how you found that person, and mention you are a recent grad looking for information about their field, because you may be interested in it. You can say you are interested in that person's type of role and are wondering if they would have time to meet with you so you could learn more about what they do, etc. If they have done or published anything in the public domain, you can mention that as an area of interest as well, if applic.

Do NOT go in as if it is a real job interview, because it is not. You are there to learn from that person, and show interest in their profession, company, etc.

As far as prep work, I'd suggest to prepare questions such as:
- Learning about their background (but do your research online first as well, as some info may be public)
- How they chose this profession/field
- What they like / don't like about it
- What advice would they give to someone like you who is just starting out
- Anything else you are curious about, etc

If the meeting seems to go well, you could ask if they would be open to you following up later if you have more questions, etc. That way you keep the door open on future communication.

I'm sure you can also find good info online about how to structure an information interview. But IMO the important thing will be to create a good rapport and build a connection. You are not there to say "help me find a job", because that will probably put the other person in an uncomfortable position, which will be a barrier. Let them get to know you, and take an interest in you, and from *that* getting their help may flow.

Hope this helps! And congrats for taking the steps to be proactive about your own career. IMO that is more than half the battle!!

Anne
 

PintoBean

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
6,383
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

DNB|1465698712|4043087 said:
Too bad you don't want to use your degree.
I have a bachelors in Philosophy, minor in Mathematics, MS-Eng in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a JD - law. I don't use my degrees :lol: :lol: :lol: Oh yeah, almost 20 years ago a piano teacher had me go do some certificate thingy where I played a few pieces, and if I passed, I got a cert that would be a cred for me teaching piano - something weird like that..
While I don't use my degrees, directly, my education allows me to have a unique skill set and demonstrates that I am versatile enough to bridge humanities and sciences, which makes me, according to an old friend, a unicorn! (or maybe that's her way of saying that I'm also "horny" :naughty: )

SO... OP - going through a PhD program, to me demonstrates that you are bright, committed, and dedicated to the long haul. You go on with your bad ass self and conquer the world! :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl:
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 7, 2013
Messages
5,646
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

Unpaid voluntary work in an office, being an office junior. I knew the organisation via one of my extra curriculum activities while I was at school. When circumstances led me to take a year out between leaving school and going to university, I contacted them to ask if they needed help in the office and they said yes.

Did that for 3 months, got conned into going back to HK by my parents as they did not like the idea I was staying in the UK on my own, and managed to find 3 youngsters that required private coaching via various contacts.

After starting uni, again, I looked for voluntary work during the summer holidays, related to the course I was studying.

When it was time to apply for my pre-registration placement after uni (1 year mandatory training prior to gaining a professional qualification) I was able to include a few experiences in my CV.

My advice to anyone is that, IMHO, find a job, regardless whether it is paid or voluntary, big or small, as one can include the experience in his/her CV. It is about showing initiative to get up and doing something, rather than to bum around and do nothing.

DK :))
 

Lady_Disdain

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
3,988
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

I would leverage the contacts of the people you worked with, even if they aren't directly in contact with the area you want. Having someone recommend you is very useful in the hiring process, specially if your resume isn't the traditional one expected for the position. Usually, the HR person (or software) doing the first read through will discard you because you lack the right keywords and they may have to read hundreds of resumes. However, if someone respected talks to the boss and says "she is a good candidate", you bypass that.

Also, when doing a career change, think in terms of steps. If getting into government regulatory work is too far from your current position (you lack experience the market requires, you don't have contacts there), then go to an intermediate step that will get you closer to your dream job. Look for a place where you can develop the experience, use your best contacts, etc. Then, while you are acquiring the experience, extend your network towards the area you want. Attend congresses and relevant classes, meet people, etc.
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
17,761
Re: How did you get in the door for your 1st job w/o experie

DNB|1465698712|4043087 said:
Too bad you don't want to use your degree.
Too bad you don't want to use your brain.
 
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