How To Land Experience In Your Dream Industry Without Interning

The way internships are shown on “reality” TV and blockbusters messed me up big-time in the head – they’ll have you believe that it’s all free products, high-profile events and meeting B-grade celebs. As someone who interned at a few glossies before reaching full-time, paid work, I quickly learned it wasn’t at all the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I got to do and see a lot of cool stuff, but it’s not as glamorous as it’s made out to be and it’s definitely not for everyone. If you think interning’s not for you, there are other ways to gain experience (which are totally manageable while at uni, as well) without going down that path.


If you’re going to gain experience, you may as well cop some pay in the process. Plenty of casual gigs rarely require any prior experience, from retail to hospitality. Try to swallow any princess pride you have because, as a lot of recruiters will attest, customer service experience is invaluable and will help you develop soft skills.

It teaches you how to reach targets, deal with  people, work shifts and handle multiple commitments. Any and all of these responsibilities and skills are transferable to an industry you’re gunning for.


A side project is good because it enables you to score experience on your own terms and, of course, on something you’ve actually got a solid passion for. What could that be? Well, honestly, it depends what you’re interested in.

If you want to be a writer, perhaps you should start a blog. If e-commerce is your thing, kick off an eBay or Etsy store. You get the point. Think about what you enjoy doing the most and figure out if you can make money from it. A side hustle can be just as valuable as work experience on résumé Not only does it show major creativity and initiative, it shows that you’ll go over and beyond for something that offers no immediate payoff. That, my friends, is a quality that’s invaluable in any workplace.


Obviously it depends what you want to do in this life, but there are competitions that can make sure your work is seen. Whether it’s getting on the Spilt Milk lineup through a Triple J Unearthed comp or submitting a fi-yah short film to Tropfest, there’s literally never any harm in trying to get your work out there.

If comps aren’t your style, you can always email your work to the correct contact and see how you go, too. Whatever doesn’t get snapped up? Put it on your own personal website as examples of work.


Bear with me. Internships can be long, hard slogs, but volunteering doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can volunteer for a couple of hours, days, or weeks and still have amazing credentials on the ol’ CV.

Whether you put up your hand to be a dresser for Fashion Week or lend your services as an assistant for Sydney Film Festival, it’s one hell of an experience to have on your résumé for only eight or so hours of your time. Where do you find such gigs? Uni blackboards list opportunities, our very own PEDESTRIAN JOBS site (top right corner) and, if you know something’s coming up, you can always check out the event or company’s website.

If you’re looking for another way to get your foot in the door, university is always a leg-up too. Charles Sturt University knows practical experience and industry connections count. That’s why their courses are full of opportunities that will put your résumé at the top of the pile.

It’s got a rep for some of the most prestigious degrees in the country (some Pedestrian staffers even came from the top-notch education destination) and legit has the highest rate of graduate employment in Australia. Check the courses they offer HERE.