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If going to college makes you over-qualified for entry level positions, but not getting entry level experience makes you under-qualified for other jobs, how do I get a job without getting ripped off by anl unpaid internship?

I know unpaid internships are the usual go-to option for experience, however I also know employers expect them and yet are not more likely to choose an applicant from their own pool of interns. I find the entire practice immoral and often times it can be illegal, and I would prefer to avoid this practice if possible. This is especially true since often times students can't afford to do one, as it ends up indirectly costing students money and time they could be spending getting the most out of their extremely expensive college education. Any suggestions would be appreciated. #college #jobs #job #programming #college-jobs #job-market

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Eric’s Answer

I don't know about other fields, but you tagged this with "programming" so I can answer to that one.

For programming jobs, a degree in a technical field such as Computer Science is usually expected for an entry-level position. It can be possible to get in without the degree, but you will need to work extra hard to demonstrate that you have the same level of skill.

Also for most programming jobs, the internships (which you would usually take during summers before you get your degree) are usually paid, and if you are being offered an unpaid software engineering internship, you should probably look elsewhere to find one that will pay you, unless you expect to get a lot out of the unpaid ones. Among these jobs, interns frequently have a leg up in being hired by the company they are interning for, but it is by no means guaranteed, nor is having been an intern necessary.

Again, this is just from my experience with programming. In other fields, things could be different.

I tagged it as programming because that is a field I am looking in to so I thought it would be relevant. Thank you for the answer. Mary R.

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Lionel’s Answer

Agree completely with Eric, but let me add a little more "color". It may be worth an unpaid internship for highly desired experience over a paid one, if feasible from a financial point-of-view.

I would also gently suggest another dimension to looking at this. You are entering a field that will offer you professional and intellectual satisfaction and be well compensated eventually if you are dedicated to your craft. There are always "dues" to be paid when you are starting out. When you change jobs later in your life, you will have the dues of starting over at a firm. Instead of viewing this practice with a microscope right now, take a long view (telescope?) thinking of it as a gate you need to get through to get to your goals. As you progress in your career you can pick and choose the battles of immorality and unfairness you dedicate yourself too. I can assure you of plenty to choose from. ;) I'd much rather support you in becoming the kind of person that has choices.

all the best,

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Brandi’s Answer

I started in the mortgage industry through a temp agency. At the time, I really had no idea what I wanted my career to be.. I thought it was a great way to learn the industry, make connections, show your work ethic, and get paid in the process! I was hired by the first company I was sent out on assignment and have now been in the industry twenty years.

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Gus’s Answer

Mary, I'm glad you're looking into a career in software, I've found mine fulfilling for over twenty years! I'd like to second Lionel's answer, and add that I personally avoided the overqualified/under-qualified gap you identified by working in the industry part time through the school year while still at university.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Mary,

I don't think that having a degree makes you over-qualified. I think it would actually be beneficial to start at an entry level job to gain understanding and experience.

Thanks ,