Open Colleges

9 Experience-building Jobs That Will Help You Kick Start Your Career in Business

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: July 16, 2015

  Return to blog home


By Jack Phillips

In today’s competitive market it can be hard to stand out above the crowd.

Gaining experience and your foot in the door isn’t an easy task but there are experience building roles out there to give you the best chance possible at rising to the top of the pack. Here are 9 jobs that will kick start your business career and set you on the path to Richard Branson-esque success.

1. Mailroom Assistant

The idea of starting in the mailroom has become the butt of many a Hollywood joke but the idea of starting at the bottom and working your way up is as relevant as ever. Simon Cowell started in a mailroom for a music publishing company and now he is a well-known television producer, mentor and music talent scout. David Geffen, who founded the DreamWorks SKG studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffery Katzenberg also worked in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency, before his big break.

2. Receptionist

Many businesses see receptionist roles as short-term. Very rarely do young career driven people wish to stay in that position forever and companies openly recognise that fact. Taking a reception position is often a path to other roles within the company and gives you the breathing space you may require to identify what that area is whilst gaining valuable experience and a livable salary.

For example, Karen Kaplan started on reception as an eager 22-year-old for the ad agency Hill Holiday and is now CEO of that very same company.

3. Call Centre

Call centres are a great platform to learn, grow and evolve. These companies offer internal promotion schemes as well as provide extra training. A tough and cutthroat role at a call centre is fertile ground for learning not only business acumen but also the thick skin you will need to make it further in business.

4. Sales

Many CEO’s of the world’s biggest companies went through the sales department on their way up. Businesses are always emphasising the client-centric nature of their businesses, and put people skills above many other attributes. Good sales experience opens many doors when you decide to take the next leap. Hiring today is about strategic vision and moving the business forward and sales experience will always be valuable in this sense.

It’s a rather morally corrupt example but controversial Wolf of Wall Street tycoon Jordan Belfort (as played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood movie) excelled because of his sales experience (jail and law breaking aside).

5. Customer Service Representative

Much like a sales role, a customer service role gives you an arsenal of experience to be employed across all areas of business. As a customer service rep you are the sole focal point for customers to concentrate their energy on. It can be an incredibly tough job, but your experience will make you a strong mediator who understands the give-and-take of conflict resolution within a business setting.

6. Family business

There is a lot to be learnt if you’re a part of the family business. Small operations give you the opportunity to experience many different aspects of business and may give you scope to help and shape its future. Australia’s News Corp is a family-owned business run by the Murdoch family and has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings.

By learning the ropes of accountancy, distributions, sales and customer service not only can you discover what areas you enjoy but also plump up your resume skill set should you wish to move to another business further down the line.

7. Trades and craft

If you want to run a business that makes something then it seems to make sense that you understand how things are and should be built. Primary experience is a sure-fire way to get ahead of the competition. Henry Ford left home to be an apprentice as a machinist and later started Ford Motor Company to manufacture cars. Gabrielle Coco Chanel trained as a seamstress before later changing the face of fashion.

8. Work experience programs/internships

Work experience programs and internships provide many benefits, giving you skills and experience that will allow you stand out to potential employers as well as helping you choose the right sector to work in.

Established work experience programs at large companies and organisations offer a variety of experiences. Although often unpaid they allow you to experience many aspects of business and meet potential employers face-to-face. First job offers often come to interns who have proven themselves capable.

9. Graduate Schemes

A slightly more structured and skill-orientated program similar to work experience and internships, grad schemes offer an accelerated route into the workplace for those with the right education and skills to impress the guardians of the company gates. Grad schemes pay well and teach recruits a variety of skills before placing them in a role that suits their area of expertise.

Securing a grad scheme is a fast track to future learning and securing a desirable role within a company.

Remember, it’s not what you know but what you practice that makes you a great leader. Want to know what else makes a great leader?

Open Colleges Leadership EBook



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

Interested in online study?

See what it’s like with our 7 day free course trial.

Find out first-hand what it’s like to study with Open Colleges. Experience our world-class learning platform for yourself and discover how online learning can work for you. There are no obligations and no payment details required.

Start Today

Course areas