The Getting-Experience-When-You-Have-No-Experience Conundrum

Casey writes:
I am a recent graduate with a BSBA degree in computer information systems and I am currently looking for employment. I am interested in Web development but I apply for various positions such as help desk tech support etc. Basically I’m applying for any positions to get my foot in the door so to speak. However when I apply for a position I am always greeted with “We’re looking for someone with a little more ‘real-world’ experience.”
I didn’t have an internship in college and I live at least an hour away from places to intern at. So my question is how can I gain this necessary “real-world” experience they are looking for? And is it possible for me to make up for my lack of experience in my resume or a portfolio of some sort?

The Career Doctor responds:
Casey you are not unique in your situation but it still frustrates me when I hear of recent college graduates who did not work or have internships or co-ops while in college. As you’ve learned employers are really looking for college grads who not only have the academic knowledge but also have some real-world experience.
You graduated last year — what have you been doing since you graduated? Are you working? What kind of work are you doing?
Consider volunteering to create a Web site for a local non-profit organization such as a cultural-arts center museum theatre company etc. These groups never have the budget to hire a professional and once complete you can certainly add the experience to your resume — and you can add the design(s) to your portfolio. Read more on creating portfolios at
Your Job Skills Portfolio: Giving You an Edge in the Marketplace.