Not everyone can start out right off the bat as an entrepreneur, so a person’s very first job — their first step on their career path, their exciting entry into real-world work — is almost always an entry-level job.
Entry-level jobs require minimal education, training and experience, making them ideal for workers at the beginning of their career journeys. These roles typically have low levels of responsibility, so workers are given the space to get a feel for a workplace and find their preferred processes and routines.
Unfortunately, entry-level jobs have more disadvantages than advantages. Entry-level workers tend to have a lot of tasks but not a lot of access to autonomy or creativity. Their pay is low and other types of compensation, like benefits and perks, are essentially non-existent. Worst of all, it can take years to work one’s way out of an entry-level position, meaning it is easy to get stuck in the frustrating lower levels of a career.
Fortunately, an entry-level role isn’t required for a successful career. Those eager to advance into more exciting and rewarding positions can and should skip entry-level jobs — by doing this:
A few years spent in academia can help you skip decades of trudging through the lowest levels of employment. The right degree programs accelerate your accumulation of knowledge and skills while providing you with a credential that compels employers to take notice of you during the application process. Studies on earning potential make it clear: Education is immensely important in raising a worker’s salary, both immediately after graduation and throughout their career.
If you aren’t sure yet what you want from your career, you can begin pursuing a degree that will help you skip the lowest entry-level jobs: business administration. A bachelor’s in business administration will equip you with hard and soft skills associated with business leadership, like accounting and finance, operations, human resources and more. These abilities are applicable across industries, so you can use it to find the field you most enjoy. Plus, this degree transitions smoothly into MBA programs, which allow you to leap over low-level management positions and qualify for lucrative business roles right out of school.
Not every business leader has an MBA — or a high school diploma, for that matter — but to achieve success without them, they have wasted decades in entry-level and low-level positions. By committing to education, you can see career success much sooner, which means more work you enjoy and more compensation you deserve.
Gain Internship Experience
While you are pursuing your degree, you should use some of your free time to participate in internship programs. Interns are the lowest of the low-level employees; at some organizations, interns are not even paid — a significant labor issue that rivals the injustice of indentured servitude. Still, there are benefits to participating in internship programs before your career kicks off in earnest. As an intern, you can enjoy opportunities to learn about real-world business environments without the stakes that come with traditional employment. Then, you can efficiently identify the industries in which you want to work and guide your education and work experience toward skills that will help you secure higher-level employment in those fields.
Network, Network, Network
Networking is one of the most valuable activities you can engage in to boost your career. Professional contacts are valuable allies in your pursuit of better employment, and the more professional relationships you can develop, the more opportunities you will have in acquiring a job that brings you satisfaction and comfort. You can network anywhere — in the classroom, at social gatherings, within your internship program and more. You might attend industry conferences or use social media to build connections with subject area experts. Then, most importantly, you must maintain your relationships by continuing to reach out to your contacts through time. Because you cannot be certain who will provide you with career assistance or when, it is best to invest some energy into every member of your professional network, no matter how small.
With education and effort, you can skip the entry-level positions in most industries — but that doesn’t mean you should expect your very first job to be in the c-suite. You need to have a realistic idea of the employment you can achieve right out of school, which is likely to be a lower-level management position. Fortunately, you don’t have to stay in this spot for long. Applying for anything too high up the corporate ladder will only earn you comedic silence from your prospective employers.
To many, the entry-level job seems like a good place to start. However, it is a smart choice to do everything in one’s power to skip the entry level and find more fulfilling and rewarding work using school, internships and network contacts.