It’s almost become cliche by this point — you need a job to get experience, but you can’t get a job without experience. I discovered that first-hand myself this year as I was wrapping up my freshman year of college. I struggled to find an internship because of my limited coursework and experience in my fields of interest — computer science.
Even though I successfully leveraged my transferable skills such as leadership and problem solving to land a marketing internship at PowerToFly this summer, not all of my friends have been so lucky.
My friend Annabel French also just finished her freshman year of college, and was having difficulty figuring out how to get an internship with no experience.
Annabel has been interested in engineering ever since she started spending time in her father’s office as a kid. She would watch his colleagues go back and forth as they designed models of wheelchairs that could be used in cities. Often, she felt an urge to interrupt and express her opinion. She loved the problem-solving process of her father’s job as an engineer.
She wanted to get an internship in engineering this summer, but didn’t think she was qualified because she has, in her words, “no relevant experience.” To earn money growing up, Annabel raked neighbors' leaves in the fall, shoveled snow in the winter, and mowed lawns in the spring. She also spent time working at a restaurant. These jobs taught her a lot about responsibility, teamwork, and communication, but she’s convinced they won’t help her achieve her goal of trying out engineering. Not so fast, Annabel.
So how can she get an internship with no experience?
Read on for five key steps that Annabel – and you! – can follow to land your dream internship with no experience.
Key One: Think about what interests you.
Annabel has always loved her logic classes, so she wants to find an internship that exercises the same parts of her brain. Even though she hasn’t completed the coursework needed to become an engineer, she can still apply for jobs that are focused on problem solving, such as a worker at an IT help desk, events planner, or operations assistant.
To identify what internships might interest you, consider the following:
- Which classes do you like most at school?
- What would you like to learn more about?
- What are things you can't stand?
- What companies intrigue you?
Exercise: You can set a timer for 2 minutes and make a T chart with companies you would and wouldn't like to work for. Categorize each company you think of on one side of the chart or the other. Afterwards, review the chart. What do the companies you would like to work for have in common? What about those you wouldn't?
Key Two: Build a strong resume.
Identifying and amplifying transferable skills is an essential part of getting an internship with no experience. Annabel worked as a hostess at a restaurant, so on her resume she chose to highlight her leadership skills that would be beneficial as an engineer.
Consider this if you have ever worked as a:
- Restaurant Host
“Successfully arranged private parties to give members exceptional experiences”
“Designed creative games for the children to have fun while learning”
Exercise: Both these examples follow the APR (Action, Project, Result)
- Action: Arranged
- Project: Private Parties
- Result: to give members exceptional experiences
Think of a list of relevant action words and give the APR solution a try!
Key Three: Network!
Annabel told EVERYONE she knew that she was looking for work. She spoke to her neighbors from the dog park, told her parents' friends, and mentioned it to professors and classmates. In addition to that, asking to shadow people is a great way to understand what it's like to work in a certain field, and most people are more than happy to talk about their work. Annabel could, for instance, ask her dad's colleagues if she can work alongside them for a day.
To recap, here are three effective ways to network:
- Tell teachers, friends, your parents' friends, your neighbors, etc., that you're looking for work
- Post on LinkedIn
- Ask to shadow
Exercise: Create and practice a 30-second elevator pitch that you would say to other people to help them understand who you are, what you like doing, how you do it, and how the results of your work make you unique. Don’t undersell yourself!
Key Four: Apply.
After networking, Annabel heard about a job in a furniture showroom from a family member and decided to apply. Though the application said “Cover Letter Optional,” she decided to write one to elaborate on the skills highlighted on her resume and demonstrate why she would be a great addition to their team. This also gave her a leg up from the other applicants who did not write one.
Key Five: Practice for the interview.
Once Annabel got an offer for an interview, she prepared by practicing questions with her friends. While answering questions, it is important to use specifics and provide interviewers with detailed situations that you dealt with. You can use the STAR method to assist you with this. Remember that though you are new to the workforce, employers wouldn’t have invited you to the interview if they didn’t think you could potentially be good for the job. That said, be confident!
After the interview, always remember to send a thank you note, and you can even highlight specific parts of the conversation that stuck with you.
Though Annabel had no experience in the workforce, going through the five steps for how to get an internship with no experience helped her get one at the furniture showroom. If you are still struggling with how to get an internship with no experience, you can explore great resources that PowerToFly offers, like the Early Career Connections September Summit or a Virtual Job Fair.
After two years of remote programming, we’re excited to welcome the 2022 NIKE, Inc. Internship Program back to our U.S. offices this week!
This year’s class of 318 represent the top 1% of 34,000+ applicants from 113 universities – including 10 Hispanic Serving Institutions and five historically Black colleges and universities. And that’s not all! Many of this year’s interns are Division 1 student-athletes, representing Track and Field, Rowing, Soccer, and Volleyball, to name a few.
During the nine-week internship – built around the theme of Never Done Shining – interns will work across Nike, Jordan and Converse taking on meaningful projects for the business areas they’re supporting. We can’t wait to watch this talented, diverse group kick off their Nike journey and shine!
Want to learn more about the program? https://jobs.nike.com/internships
How Gainsight’s Danielle Allwood Launched Her Dream Career in Tech With Zero Technical Experience, Thanks to CSYOU
Danielle Allwood typed "data analytics remote job" into Google and found PowerToFly.
After exploring our website, she signed up for a few webinars, including our monthly Summit series.
After attending a few events, she registered for our Virtual Job Fair.
At that Virtual Job Fair, she went to a panel hosted by customer success company, Gainsight, on their CSYOU program, a three-part program consisting of training on customer success skills; an internship in tech; and the opportunity for a full-time placement, replete with ongoing training and mentorship.
"While working part-time, I was operating on little sleep to figure out what my place would look like in tech, and with Gainsight, it came full circle," says Danielle.
She applied for CSYOU, got in, successfully completed the training and the internship, and is now a full-time Customer Success Associate at Gainsight.
Danielle's story is truly full-circle, and we were excited to get to sit down and discuss it with her. Read on for insight on how she transitioned from a non-technical career into a fulfilling role in her dream field, thanks to the barrier-breaking CSYOU program.
A way in
When Danielle first found PowerToFly, she'd been applying for roles in tech without getting anywhere.
That's what first intrigued her about the CSYOU program—it expressly stated that non-technical experience was welcome. Danielle knew that her decade of work in high-stakes event planning, with its focus on tight operations and budgets, would serve her well in a customer success situation, so when she saw Gainsight was a partner of PowerToFly, she decided to apply. "I knew if they were partnering with you, I could trust I'd be in good hands," she explains.
The second thing that she loved about the CSYOU opportunity was that they were especially seeking underrepresented individuals. "It's extremely common for someone of color to look online, navigate an industry, find a company within that industry, and then they go and look for pictures of people in that particular company," says Danielle. "And when you don't see a lot of people who look like you or any at all, you begin to wonder if they think that you're of value." Seeing that Gainsight valued inclusion from the get-go was important to Danielle, as was the opportunity to use data analytics to support others.
"I like the process of understanding the behavior of individuals and providing them the resources that they need to be successful in their journey by using both quantitative and qualitative [data]," she says. "That's why I'm really interested in data analytics—you can look at the data and have a more precise perspective of how individuals reach their decisions, change their decisions, and what led them to the decisions in the first place."
Danielle is proof that even skills that may not seem immediately relevant to tech can make a big impact. Looking back, she cites her experience taking her event planning clients from ideation to execution of an event as the perfect foundation for the customer success lifecycle: "It's taking them from end to end, taking care of them," she says.
That's a value that she applies to herself, too. One of Danielle's personal favorite self-care practices is yoga. "It reduces my anxiety and keeps me present not only in the workplace, but with myself," she says.
The calm, centered approach to problem-solving that Danielle deployed in events (and also brings to the yoga mat) served her well as she transitioned from her month-long training into her internship placement– especially when it came to prioritization.
After finishing her training, Danielle and her CSYOU cohort all filled out a survey identifying what niches they were most interested in working with, from edtech to marketing tech to customer success. Danielle says she was "floored" to be placed with Gainsight.
Now, on a normal day in her full-time role, Danielle contributes her time to scaling support ticket backlog, analyzing ticket metrics and collaborating with teams to create seamless product functionality for a better customer experience. . Everyday can look different; a lot of threads to keep track of and people to coordinate with, but Danielle says the coaching she received both in CSYOU and on the job has helped her learn how to unstick the toughest problems first and to move slowly but steadily towards bigger, but less urgent, goals. She likens her current approach to figuring out how to launch a basketball towards the basket before the shot clock ticks down, describing her key steps as:
- Look at an overview of the project
- Understand the problem or challenge
- "Don't worry about having an A-to-Z plan to tackle it; however, start with what is your desired outcome, as A!" !"
Part of figuring out how to prioritize has been learning how to communicate her own prioritization to others, and to keep their different perspectives front-of-mind, too. "It's very important, when you open your mouth and decide to speak on something that's important to you, to ask yourself, 'For the person that's on the receiving end, why would it be important to them?'" she says.
"The support is unreal," says Danielle. "I have never worked for an organization like Gainsight that matches the support that I had in the CSYOU program, where no matter how many questions you have, no matter what you do not know, there is space for you," says Danielle. Specifically, she's leaned on:
- Weekly office hours where she can ask questions of more senior individuals
- Regular 1-on-1 meetings with her manager
- And an automated feature that matches up Gainsight employees for coffee chats (or Danielle's favorite, milk-and-cookie meetups)
Taken together, Danielle has found the support she needs to succeed in a career she's long dreamed of. "That is so utterly important because it allows you to thrive in a way that you could have never have imagined if those opportunities weren't available," she says.
With less than a year under her belt as an official Gainsight employee, Danielle has already found herself presenting to the company during Black History Month and has had the opportunity to lead yoga sessions during Gainsight's big Pulse Everywhere conference.
"The human-first value they talk quite a bit about is definitely true," says Danielle. "The win at being human-first is that I naturally found an organization that matched and aligned with my spirit. For instance, creating opportunities for other people who don't look like you is humongous, because it creates diverse thought leadership and a company that is able to do things in a really impactful and positive way.."
Now, Danielle is focused on succeeding in operationalizing outcomes in her support role and ideally continuing to grow into a leadership position where she will be able to work on cross-departmental projects to make Gainsight as a whole more scalable..
She has one piece of advice for others thinking about applying to CSYOU, especially those like her who don't have a particularly tech-focused resume: "No matter what your background is, it is possible for you to make an impact in tech," she says. "I say impact versus work because a lot of people can go to a nine to five, but there's not always opportunities to create impact. But with hard work and seizing the right opportunity, trust me, you'll get there. It doesn't matter if you're a baggage handler at an airport or restaurant host—going through the CSYOU program, it's possible."
If Gainsight's culture interests you, check out their open roles or apply directly to their CSYOU program!