You don’t have enough experience for the job — now what?

So you’re a college senior approaching graduation. With two internships under your belt, you’re ready to dive into the job market. You go to a handful of interviews, make it through a couple rounds, and are told by the employers that they decided to go with a job candidate with more experience.

Or maybe you’ve been in the job market for a couple years now and are looking for change. You know what you want to do, know you’d be great at it, but haven’t worked in that field before.

How are you supposed to get the experience you need to land that job?

The key lies in the fact that you don’t have to be employed to gain valuable job experience; you can build experience through volunteer work.

For example: let’s say you’re interested in event planning but only have experience planning one party — your grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration. While it may have been a total hit, it isn’t an impressive achievement on a résumé.

There are ways to harness your interest, however, and make it work for you in the professional world. Try to find an organization that holds special events that appeal to you and volunteer to help.

You might find yourself soliciting sponsors for a benefit or coordinating catering for a conference — however you’re involved, you’ll have a hand in making the event a success. That record of success is going to help you score the event-planning position you want.

Maybe you love to write but don’t have professional writing samples that exhibit your skill. Volunteer to write press releases for a local business and work to increase their media coverage.

Or better yet, start your own blog. Having a website that potential employers can quickly access to assess your writing abilities may give you an edge over other job applicants.

Perhaps you love social media and dream of working as a community manager. It’s guaranteed a local nonprofit would appreciate your assistance establishing a stronger online presence and utilizing social networking sites. Offer to help the organization spread their message online.

The goal is to acquire the work experience you’re lacking. Even though the position you’re vying for may not directly relate to your professional history, having relevant experience outside the job is just as impressive.

On top of that, your volunteer projects show employers you take initiative and have the drive to succeed.

Don’t let lack of experience stop you from going after what you want. Instead, find ways to show employers what you’re made of.

Katie Schutrop is a Minnesota native working as a marketing and social media coordinator for TV. She is the founder of Young Professional Communicators – Twin Cities (YPCTC), a networking group of new professionals in the communications industry. You can find her blogging at Katie in Minneapolis and tweeting under @kshoop.

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