Obtain Additional Experience & Training

Other than direct work experience, probably one of the most valuable sources of experience that can bolster your employment prospects is experience obtained in a volunteer service capacity.  Volunteering your time to learn a skill that serves others, without expecting payment or compensation for the time spent training, is typically a very strong indicator of your level of commitment and your willingness to go beyond what is needed to accomplish your goals.  Volunteering your time to learn a much needed skill also says a lot about your personal character and good will.

Volunteering is also a tremendous opportunity to learn from some of the best skilled tradespersons and professionals to be found in any community.  Why?  Because it is precisely these individuals, and others like them, that understand the importance and value of sharing their skills - - and their ability to teach those skills - - to interested individuals such as yourself.  These churches, community organizations, non-profits, and civic clubs contribute to the rich fabric of our communities, and the folks that work at and run such places can provide a wealth of knowledge and experiences for the curious and committed.

In addition to volunteering opportunities, some individuals gain experience through becoming the minimally paid helper or assistant to a skilled tradesperson or professional.  You may earn only a small stipend, or token payment, and in exchange for your labors, be enriched by learning a skill that the tradesperson or professional is adept at teaching you.  The tradesperson or professional can then - - assuming your work was satisfactory, and you demonstrated competency with the work in question - - act as one of your references for employment applications.

There are also numerous training opportunities to be had - - free of charge - - from a variety of different organizations, service agencies, and the like.  Some training may not be the sort of classroom and instructor setting you might imagine.  It may be an evening session at a local library about one subject or another, or a week-end church retreat about relevant spiritual or social topic, or a speaker/lecture series at your local community college, or a senior center presentation about some aspect of human servicing.  In short, your classroom doesn’t actually have to be a classroom, or even look or feel like a classroom, for you to be able to gain valuable knowledge and insight into your chosen field of service or employment.

Shadowing, reading, research, interviews, and the like can all be valuable sources of information and understanding.  Some are appropriately referenced on an application or in a resume.  Others are not, and might only come up in an interview, or not at all.

In addition to these less formal, or sometimes less structured approaches to obtaining experience and training, there are a number of different formal avenues, depending mostly on what you are interested in and the kinds of credentials that are required for the position you may be seeking.  Many of these offerings come at a cost - - for the training or instruction itself, books, supplies, equipment, testing, and other associated fees.  You may need to obtain a loan to pay for this education or training, and as with any loan, there are then associated interest charges, in addition to the other costs mentioned previously.  There is a lot of data available about the graduation rates, job placement rates, and the rest, for any given school, college, or educational program.  This data should be carefully considered before making the decision to invest time and monies in any program or another.

Some other formal offerings . . . . . that require the applicant meet eligibility criteria, but otherwise do not charge directly for their training program(s) are federally or state funded job readiness or other sorts of training and educational programs.  These programs are too numerous to mention here, and each has its own eligibility or status-criteria that must be met in order to participate in the offering.  Some are for older workers, some are for specific specialties, some are for low-income individuals, and some are in underserved fields, or are only available for underserved communities.

Local Workforce Investment Act (WIA) contractors, Department of Labor funded programs, or population-specific training programs like SCSEP, transitional employment programs for individuals with disabilities, or those for displaced workers or one industry or another can all be sources of training, experience, know-how, or career development assistance.  A job-readiness counselor or other employment services specialist can provide you with more information or direction in this area.