young woman looks sad at desk in search of internship

As a recent college graduate, I know firsthand the pressure and importance of securing an internship in order to build your career.

However, the reality is that not everyone is able to land an internship, whether it be due to a competitive job market or personal circumstances.

But fear not, there are alternative ways to gain experience and build your career that can be just as valuable as an internship.

In this article, I will discuss some of these alternative methods and offer tips on how to make the most of them.

Networking and Informational Interviews

One of the most important aspects of building your career is networking. Even if you don’t have an internship, you can still attend networking events and reach out to professionals in your desired field for informational interviews.

Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about a specific industry or company, and can also lead to potential job opportunities down the line.

When reaching out to professionals for an informational interview, make sure to be respectful of their time and come prepared with thoughtful questions.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or feedback on your resume and career goals.

LinkedIn is a great platform for reaching out to professionals in your field as well as to companies you are interested in. To learn the best way to ask a stranger on LinkedIn for an informational interview, check out this article.

Building relationships with professionals in your desired field can open up doors and provide valuable insights that can help shape your career path.

Freelancing and Side Projects

Another way to gain experience and build your career is through freelancing and side projects. Fiverr, UpWork, and many other sites are great platforms to land clients and develop experience.

Freelancing allows you to work on projects for clients on your own terms, while side projects allow you to work on passion projects that showcase your skills and interests.

Both can provide valuable experience and help you build a portfolio to showcase to potential employers.

When freelancing, it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations with clients to ensure a successful working relationship.

Additionally, make sure to communicate regularly and deliver high-quality work to build a strong reputation.

When working on side projects, take the time to research and develop your ideas to ensure they are both unique and relevant to your desired career path.

Volunteer Work and Community Involvement

Volunteer work and community involvement can also be a valuable way to gain experience and build your career.

Not only does it allow you to give back to your community, but it also provides opportunities to develop new skills and make connections with like-minded individuals.

When choosing volunteer opportunities, make sure to select ones that align with your interests and career goals.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to take on leadership roles or suggest new initiatives to showcase your skills and dedication.

Volunteering can also lead to potential job opportunities, so make sure to stay connected with the individuals and organizations you work with.

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Online Courses and Certifications

In today’s digital age, there are countless online courses and certifications available that can provide valuable skills and knowledge to help build your career.

If you find that your field of study lacks internship opportunities, or that due to your major you’re being overlooked, try checking out online certifications.

Many of these courses are free or low-cost, making them accessible to individuals with various financial circumstances.

When choosing online courses and certifications, make sure to research the credibility of the provider and ensure that the course material aligns with your career goals.

Additionally, make sure to dedicate time and effort to fully engage with the material and apply the skills to real-world scenarios.

Building a Personal Brand Through Social Media

In today’s competitive job market, having a strong personal brand can help set you apart from other candidates.

Social media provides a platform to showcase your skills, interests, and personality to potential employers.

When building your personal brand through social media, make sure to maintain a professional image and avoid controversial topics or posts.

Additionally, make sure to engage with others in your desired field and share valuable content to establish yourself as a thought leader.

Branding yourself and showcasing your talents and experience online could lead to you being sought out for roles in the future.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Alternative Experiences

No matter which alternative method you choose to build your career, there are several tips to help make the most of your experiences.

Stay motivated and dedicated to your goals. Building a successful career takes time and effort, but it’s important to stay committed to your path.

Additionally, make sure to track your progress and reflect on your experiences. Keep a record of your accomplishments and lessons learned to showcase to potential employers or use as a reference for future projects.

Finally, stay open to new opportunities and don’t be afraid to take risks. Building your career takes initiative and determination, but the rewards are worth the effort.


In conclusion, not landing an internship doesn’t have to be a setback in building your career.

There are alternative methods to gain experience and showcase your skills that can be just as valuable as an internship.

From networking and informational interviews to online courses and certifications, there are countless opportunities available to help build your career.

With dedication and effort, you can create a successful career path that aligns with your goals and passions.

Good luck, and for more details on how to have companies knocking down your door, check out Dump Your Degree: How to Repurpose Your Education, Control Your Career, and Gain Financial Freedom today!

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