It’s the eternal paradox of the modern job hunt: an entry-level position that requires three to four years of industry experience. As competition for graduate-level positions becomes increasingly more intense as time goes on, companies and other organizations have the ability and the incentive to select only the most qualified and experienced applicants. As such, the requirements for even a first job in the industry of your choice can come with a seemingly absurd stipulation for prior experience. You need experience to get a job, but you also need a job to get experience.
Many will look at such a phenomenon and see it as the Kafkaesque result of an impenetrable work culture, one that seems custom built to exclude them despite the four years they spent on a degree that, just a few decades ago, would have guaranteed them a career right off the bat. If a degree isn’t enough for an entry level job, then what on earth are employers actually looking for? It is, in a word, disheartening.
But there are ways around the problem, and an impassioned group of students at Virginia Tech now seek to crack the code of modern career opportunities.
“Podcasting has definitely been a platform that’s always been interesting to me, especially with how fast it’s blown up in the last couple of years,” said Ben Gallaher, senior in marketing and head of the new “Experience Required” podcast. “The original idea was to kind of provide this sort of platform that people can access while they’re walking to class that gives this sort of advice that people aren’t necessarily getting in class.”
Ben, along with his co-host Kendyl Florence, a junior also in marketing, know all too well the trials and tribulations of the job application process. With the backing of Virginia Tech’s PRISM program, an interdisciplinary advertising agency founded and advised by Pamplin’s own Donna Wertalik, “Experience Required” aims to educate current and future job seekers, explaining the ins and outs of the modern recruitment process and teaching essential interview skills.
The podcast recently began its second season, publishing its eighth full episode Feb. 10. The centerpiece of the podcast’s episodes are the interviews with industry insiders.
“When I was sitting in classes last year and the year before, I was realizing, you know, how do I get to be the person who these guest speakers are being?” Gallaher said.
“I just didn’t feel like everything we needed to know is being presented to us in class or even if it was it was a little bit outdated,” Florence said. “Experience is so nuanced these days; everyone has a side hustle now, everyone has a hobby they can turn profitable, everyone has experience and that’s kind of what we wanted to show too.”
“It’s right in our title,” said Gallaher. “It’s kind of an ironic jab at the fact that entry level jobs are now requiring three to four (years) of experience.”
The podcast certainly doesn’t mess around with its mission, either. The interviewee of the debut episode was Josh Jacobs, a recruiter from Activision-Blizzard, one of the most prominent and successful video game holding companies in the world. The company is responsible for hits like “World of Warcraft,” “Overwatch” and“Candy Crush”.
One piece of wisdom shared by Jacobs was the old “where do you see yourself in five years” question is actually quite a loaded question, designed to figure out whether or not the applicant actually wants to make a career out of position. This is just one example of the kinds of information available to listeners of the podcast, and there’s another whole season of episodes on the way.
When asked about their hopes for the future of the podcast, Florence and Gallaher’s responses were optimistic.
“Our main goal is just to reach more people,” Gallaher said.
In a process rife with questions of presentation, “Experience Required” serves as a veritable cornucopia of self-improvement skills. When asked what they would like listeners to take from the podcast more than anything, Florence replied “confidence.”
Other students involved in the project in a variety of roles include Alex Tran, business information technology junior; Megha Jassal, business information technology senior; Chirs Marano, creative technologies fourth year; and Caitlin Nguyen, finance and hospitality and tourism management sophomore.