You go out and look for them.
It sounds a bit facetious, but I’m not kidding.
If we think about how most people found the opportunities they got, it’s usually not by sitting in their labs or research offices 80% of their lives, then going home and surfing Facebook the remaining 20% of their time, not talking to anyone new or reaching outside their existing networks.
You have to make the effort to get out into the world beyond the bench and talk to people, meet people, and ask for ways in which you can bring value to an organization in an internship, volunteer experience or freelance situation.
- Apply to open positions – like jobs, you might get lucky!
- Ask companies or organizations or people you’re interested in working for if you can work on a project with them – make an opportunity for yourself that didn’t already exist.
- Organize events in your area and meet people who could connect you to internships or refer you.
It’s always great when you can get paid for an internship, but it helps if you can intern or volunteer without pay, since it lowers the risk for the other party. Regardless, you must take action to make something happen for you.
Putting in the time and energy ahead of time to complete internships or volunteer work is well worth it, so go for it!
“Having directly relevant experience pays huge dividends down the road for your job search process.” – Free the PhD
By Vay Cao, Ph.D.
Ask me more about jobs, PhD life or transitioning to a life you love! Adapted from my Quora answer.