Gaining Work Experience as a Youth

Often job searching can feel like a Catch-22. A job posting wants you to have experience doing that role, but you can’t get experience doing it until someone gives you a job! It can be hard to understand how anyone has any job when the system works like this. Luckily, there are a few ways to gain work experience that can be used on your resume to land you the job you want.


As soon as you are old enough, check out volunteering options in the career field you’re interested in. This will be a great way to learn more about the career, especially the day to day, and get to know people in the field. It will also give you experience working in a position similar to what you are hoping to work in later on as well as give you an idea of how the working world functions.

If there are not volunteer options in your field of choice, don’t fret. Find a volunteer role in anything that may interest you. You will still gain experience and hopefully get to spend time doing what you enjoy. This shows future employers that you have hobbies and that you are willing to spend your time helping others.

Work Experience/Co-op:

If your school or post-secondary institution has a work experience option take it. These are set up to give you an even closer look at positions you may end up in than volunteering is. You will have to go through interview processes as well and should be able to get some references. Similarly to volunteering, it shows employers that you are responsible, not only on the job, but also in putting in the time and effort to your career at an early age.

Part Time/After School Jobs:

If your schedule allows it, getting a part time job in food service or at a clothing store is a great way to gain experience. You may not learn skills specific to becoming an engineer or a doctor, but you will learn how businesses are run, how payroll and scheduling works as well as many other soft and transferable skills. You will have actual paid work experience on your resume and show that you are able to time manage wisely between work and school. Plus, you get paid!

Network Online and In Person:

Find a Facebook group or website with people in the career you are looking for. They will shed light on what the job is like and what experience you really need. There may be events you can go to to meet people and become part of the field’s community. It’s also a great way to meet people with shared experiences.

Do It Yourself:

There are a lot of careers out there which you can gain experience for without having someone hire you. If you are looking to do something creative, create it. Write, paint, design whatever you can in your spare time. If it is applicable, put it online for people to see and maybe comment on. This not only gets you a fuller portfolio to show potential employers, but also shows your enthusiasm and willingness to learn and grow in whatever way possible.


Regardless of whatever kind of experience you gain while you work towards your career, remember this choice is not a life sentence. If you find yourself not enjoying the work, it may be time to put some thought into a career change. But remember, even if you aren’t enjoying what you do, don’t drop it immediately. Give appropriate notice or finish the contract that you are on. How and why you left a job tells future employers about your level of respect and disposition to follow through on your commitments.

We have great volunteer, part time, and full-time jobs on Youthjobs Canada to help you gain experience in your field-check them out now!

Career Seeker Coaching Advice, Development, Job Tips