Information technology (IT) jobs involve the design and maintenance of computer information systems, and gaining experience is typically critical when you want a job in this field. It is often difficult to gain the experience you need, however, as many employers prefer to hire professionals who already have a extensive work history. As such, you may have to use creativity to get IT work experience. Some options include choosing a degree program that incorporates real projects and seeking internship opportunities. You could also consider freelance and volunteer opportunities.
One way to get IT work experience is through an internship. You can look for internship opportunities while you are still in college or are completing a training program and benefit from gaining practical experience you can use once you earn a degree, certificate, or other credential. For example, some individuals choose to participate in internship programs during their summer breaks from school. If you can find internship work after you finish your degree or training program, it may also prove helpful for building skills and gaining contacts that boost your chances of landing a job.
You also should keep in mind that you don't always have to look for paying positions when you want to gain IT work experience. Instead, you can contact companies and organizations that may need IT help and offer your assistance with their projects. This can work particularly well with smaller companies that might not have much money available for hiring computer help. For example, you may find a local environmental group, new cooperative grocery store, or even a church willing to provide you with volunteer work. Though you won't get paid for these types of projects, you can gain valuable experience and references you can use when you apply for a paying job.
Sometimes organizations look for freelance help rather than hiring an IT professional to work full or part time. If you can market yourself as a freelance professional, you might get a range of projects that help you build your skills. When starting out as a freelancer, you may do well to begin with small projects you know you can handle with relative ease. As you gain experience, however, you may feel confident enough to take on more challenging projects. In addition to the experience you can gain as a freelancer and the pay you can earn, seeking experience this way can also translate into references you can use to land a full-time job.
When you need IT work experience, you might also benefit from a training program that incorporates hands-on experience into your learning. For example, some programs include a work project segment in which you must complete a project for a company. If you choose a training program that includes such a project as a course requirement, you can not only get the experience you need, but also credit toward graduation. Additionally, you might receive a job offer from the company for which you complete the IT project.