“So you’re telling me I have to get experience so I can get experience?” We’ve all seen the memes. Don’t people apply for internships to get experience? The answer used to be yes but in 2016, not having experience because you haven’t interned anywhere is no longer an excuse.

I learned this the hard way. Earlier this year, I applied for a summer communication internship at HACE. I submitted my resume and got a phone interview. I was asked many questions but then came the question that I wasn’t prepared to answer, “What experience do you have”.

I had none, zero, nada. I had a ton of leadership experience but none that correlated specifically with the description of this internship. I never used Hootsuite, which is a social media-managing platform, or created content such as blogs. What should’ve been a short phone interview turned into almost 45 minutes of me not being able to answer that question. Eventually, the interview ended and I was notified a week later that I didn’t get it.

I was so profoundly impacted by the fact that I didn’t have much experience that I started creating my own. I start using Hootsuite regularly and start publishing articles as a content creator for The Odyssey at my school.

If you are looking to get an internship and have no experience, create it.

  • If you’re applying for a marketing and social media related internship, download a social media-managing app.
  • If you’re applying for a business internship, take on leadership positions that have relevance to the business world.
  • If you’re looking for a science related internship, do research with a professor.

I am a first generation student. I have taken classes and worked almost 30 hours a week for the past 4 years of my life, including summers. I work 30 hours a week to finance my own education. I haven’t taken an internship because I never had the time for it.

Often time’s first generations students lack internship experience because they work to pay off their own education. I made an early decision going into my senior year that I had to create time for an internship without having to quit my job. I created my schedule to be able to accommodate an internship I didn’t have.

Fortunately, I got an internship at State Farm two weeks into my senior year. It was a paid internship and very sales orientated. I finished it, and they offered to pay for my licensing exam to become a State Farm agent. I declined the offer because I knew that I still had more to learn, I needed more experience.

Almost midway into my semester, I saw another communication internship opportunity through HACE. I submitted my resume, and get a phone interview. Vanessa Valentin, who is the strategic partnership manager for HACE, recognized me when the phone interview began. I got a second chance at this opportunity and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. I mentioned all the added experienced I had this time around and got the internship the same day.

Create experience for yourself by allocating energy in doing things that hold relevance to your desired internship.