A few of my friends are looking for a job today. They are not necessarily unemployed, but they have jobs that can’t be called a “career”. For example, some have degrees and work as bartenders using almost nothing from college.
At the same time I feel like it’s impossible to find great qualified people in the fast growing technology industry in San Francisco Bay. The problem is of course that it’s very hard to hire someone with no experience. Thankfully in todays connected world there are a bunch of ways that initial experience. You just need to use the Internet and be flexible about what you do and how much you get paid.
Just as a point of reference – when I got my first programming job in 1997 it paid only $7 an hour. I knew that I wasn’t going to get hired for big money and being 17 I didn’t care. It feels like today everyone wants “six digits” right away. I am sorry folks, when you don’t have experience you are not going to be very useful. You are probably going to get more learning out of the right job than they will get out of you. So if you have your ego in check and you are ready to roll up your sleeves – read on.
How do you get this elusive experience when no one wants to give you a chance? You would be surprised - there are actually a bunch of opportunities. I know a few industries in depth so my examples are going to come from those. Here are a few example that will eventually lead you to a job where you get paid $60,000 - $120,000 a year with benefits of all kinds.
#1 Software Engineer – all you need to get, in order to get started is a computer. You can use one in school, library, or borrow one from a friend. If you have any money you can get a used MacBook Air for $500 on eBay. Where to from there? Get free lectures from iTunesU or any number of websites: http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs193p/cgi-bin/drupal/blog/15. Once you are comfortable doing some programs on your own – try contributing to some open source projects. You can find a bunch of them on GitHub.com and see if you are good enough to actually get some code submitted. In a few months you will have a resume where you can cite several products that you contributed to and that is considered experience for some employers.
#2 CRM administrator – this is a hot job right now and again you only need to access the Internet to get started. I recommend taking some free courses on Salesforce.com, Sugar CRM or Microsoft Dynamics. Those systems are very powerful and popular and a lot of companies put their vital business data there. I know a bunch of non-profits that would die for a volunteer who could help them organize their donors, events and the like. Since you are a volunteer you don’t have to have much experience. You can help your church, you can help someone who is raising funds… it doesn’t matter. After having taking the courses and organizing some data you qualify as an administrator with “some” experience. You can start pitching yourself to companies that pay real money.
#3 Social Media Marketing Manager – if only people spent half of their social media time with a purpose the world would be a better place. Pick up some books on basic marketing at the library, start reading some blogs. Sign up for Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Google Plus and whatever else you like. Next step – pick a topic. For example you can talk about looking for work (very relevant). This one is part skill and part talent. If you are talented you will start engaging folks and getting people to follow you. After a while you can start engaging people in PR agencies or any other company that cares about their social media image. Trust me when I say it that a lot of companies are figuring out that it’s a critical part of their engagement with new and existing customers. Again after a little while you will get a decent job with benefits or you can stay as a consultant and get multiple clients.
In a nutshell there is a bunch of opportunities. Young Americans just need to just get back to the basics, get rid of the ego and start investing in themselves. The best days are still ahead of us!