College is expensive. Insanely expensive if your degree isn’t in a subject area that leads directly to employment. And yet, it’s amazing how many people want students and fresh grads to work for free in order to “cut their teeth” and “gain experience”.
The trouble is that while experience is useful in the long run, in the short-term the bank won’t take experience as a payment on your loans and your landlord is not going to accept experience in exchange for your rent, either. So, this is a better solution – how to find remote work as a college student or as a fresh college graduate.
What Are Employers Looking For?
If your first answer to this question is “a degree”, you are wrong and completely wrong at that. It is entirely possible that some employers will screen you out of the recruitment process if you don’t have a degree but – in the main employers don’t care about degrees.
What they do care about is that you can get the job done and that you’ll do in a reliable fashion where you take accountability for your work. In short, there are plenty of remote jobs out there for students and fresh grads as long as you employ some lateral thinking when it comes to finding work.
The Easiest Way To Find Your First Remote Job Is To Tap Into Your Network
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, now is the time to set yours up. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know any business people, add the people you do know – your friends from college, your lecturers, your professors, your parents, your former schoolteachers, etc.
This is because while you may not have a network, just yet, they surely do. Many people seem to think LinkedIn is about who you know and while this plays a part in things, for sure, the truth is it’s really about who the people you know already know and the people they know.
I realize that sounds complicated but it’s not. If you’ve ever heard of the game “Six degrees of separation” you will know that almost everyone is connected to everyone else by a chain of no more than 6 people.
LinkedIn gives you access to the first 3 links in your chain. It’s not “everyone on earth” but by the time you’ve got everyone you know on LinkedIn – your network turns out to be huge even if you only know a few people to begin with.
Before You Begin: Decide What Kind Of Work You Want To Do
Nobody can help you if you won’t help yourself, first. If you spam your whole network begging for jobs of any kind – you will get nowhere.
You need to think about the kinds of jobs that you can get that don’t require a degree (that is – every single job that isn’t based on a vocational degree) and narrow it down to the one (or at most two) you really want to do.
Get Googling, find out your options and work out what you have to offer. This will help with the next bit.
Then Reach Out To Your Network
Once you know what you want to do, go through your network and identify the people most likely to be able to give you that kind of work or who can recommend someone who can.
You want to contact hiring managers and decision-makers and not HR departments or CEOs. That is unless you’re on first name terms with the CEO or HR person – then go right ahead and contact them, but if not people you are likely to work for directly if you find the job you want.
If you don’t have a direct contact to them, reach out to the person in your network who is connected to them and ask them to make an introduction for you.
Your Introduction Letter
Once you’re ready to reach out – you want to send a quick introduction along these lines (modify as you see fit):
Hi Mrs. Hiring Manager,
My name is Blah Blah and my friend Bob said that you were the person to talk to at ABC company. I am a student/fresh grad seeking remote work doing XYZ profession.
I was wondering if you hire people like me? If so, these are 5 great reasons to take me on:
List reasons here.
If not, do you know somebody who might be looking for someone like me? I’d really appreciate an introduction.
I know you are busy, and I don’t want to take up too much of your time. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
You want to keep things short and sweet at this stage because people are busy and because this is LinkedIn mail, and no-one will ever read an essay from someone they don’t know.
You may need to repeat this process many times with many contacts. Don’t be disheartened if somebody doesn’t reply – the truth is people are busy and you’re not their first priority. Take being ignored as valuable training for employment where you will be ignored a lot.
With a bit of luck, eventually, somebody will come back and open up a conversation that might lead to a job. You will probably have to go through an interview and possibly an assessment as part of the process.
If That Doesn’t Work: Get Online And Look
There are an awful lot of job boards out there and while I’m going to list a few here – the truth is that there are dozens of them and the best thing you can do improve your odds of finding remote work as a student or fresh grad is to Google and see how many you can find.
The more jobs that you apply for – the higher your chances of finding a job become. Years ago, when I was in the employment market, I had a fairly meteoric rise to the top of my profession – this, in part, came from the fact that when I felt it was time to move on, I’d put hours and hours each week into my job search.
I sent out hundreds of applications and cover letters and often never heard a thing back. It didn’t matter, eventually, I would hear something and so will you – finding a job is really a number’s game more than anything else.
Some Advice For Finding Work Online
You will need a cover letter and a resume for each application you make. If you are unlucky, you will also need to fill in an annoying online form which is completely different from the last annoying online form (you start wishing employers would standardize their systems very soon in a serious job search).
Each of these should be unique and tailored to the job and the employer. While this is not a class on how to write these things (though we may add one on NomadTalk later) – the best tip is to read the job description carefully and try to use the same “keywords” that the job description uses to show how suitable you are.
If your application is scanned by computer before ending up on a real person’s desk – this will help to make sure it survives the process.
Job Boards Where You Might Find Your First Remote Job
You can try:
- We Work Remotely. They don’t have work in every discipline but they do cover a broad range of possibilities. This is the first place that you should check in your search.
- Remote OK. Another popular remote job board with plenty of different opportunities open to all.
- Working Nomads. Another job board that helps people find remote work – though with a narrower scope than the two above.
- Working from home is very easy to use though not every opportunity is great either.
- If you can’t find anything on the main job boards, then Upwork is a decent fallback decision – you won’t get rich, but you might be able to persuade someone to give you the experience you need to build a better resume.
You may need to work hard to find it but there is a remote work opportunity out there for every motivated student or recent college grad. The good news is that unlike many “opportunities” for college-aged folks – these pay real money and can help you reduce your student debts, cover your rent and live a better life.
Remote work experience will be highly valuable in your future career and it’s a lot of fun too. Good luck with your search! Hopefully, one day, you’ll be able to leverage your remote work into becoming a digital nomad.