How to Get Career Experience as a Student

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Nowadays, simply getting a degree isn’t enough. You need career experience to get a good job or even to apply for certain graduate programs. Let’s go over some options you have to gain experience as a student.

Internships and Volunteering

These are the most obvious choices for students. Applicants are usually required to be studying for a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree in a related field. While this type of work can be time-consuming, it lets you get a feel of the work environment. 

Make sure you communicate with your potential employer:

  • How long you’d like to work per week.
  • How long you’re planning to stay with them.
  • If you’re expecting to be paid or not.

You can find many opportunities on LinkedIn, VolunteerMatch, and Catchafire. Other ways to find these openings include joining the Rise Institute Volunteer Fair and using Bellevue College’s Center for Career Connections. If you’re below the age of 18, consider looking for youth-led organizations to work with, as there will often be less competition to get the position.


If you have no experience, don’t expect to make money off of freelance work immediately. These types of jobs require you to put yourself out there and actively market yourself. A good portion of your time will be spent just trying to get a gig. However, freelancing can be more flexible than other options and it can do wonders if you’re trying to build your professional network.

Before you try to find freelance jobs, research some freelance platforms. Some will take a portion of your fees or charge you for joining. Read more on Freelancer to protect yourself from freelance scams.


Have no idea where to start with your career? A mentor can help with that! Working on projects with a seasoned professional is a surefire way to gain experience, but finding the right mentor can be hard. Indeed suggests that you determine what you want out of a mentorship before looking for one. 

According to NPR, to get a mentor, you contact professionals in your network with a prepared elevator pitch. You can also research mentorship programs. MENTOR Washington can be a great resource for youth under the age of 18. While there aren’t many mentor programs at Bellevue College, DECA provides one-on-one coaching for business-related fields.


Getting career experience is important if you want to increase your chances of getting a job after college. However, these opportunities can be difficult to find, so reach out to your network for help. And make sure you have enough time in your schedule to handle another commitment aside from school. Good luck with your career journey!