Gaining experience in anticipation of a physical therapy position requires time, patience and the willingness to work in a setting you might not otherwise choose for your full-time career. There are several ways in which college grads can get experience in this field. Experience is key because employers generally do not want a complete PT newbie who requires extensive on-the-job training. Physical therapy is such a client-intensive position in which a client's physical well-being is in your hands, so as much training as you can get prior to taking a full-time position is good.
To start, you can gain experience in physical therapy through volunteer work with a local senior care center or local clinic. In many instances, these facilities do not have the resources to pay full-time physical therapists and must rely on professionals willing to do pro bono work. The benefit of this type of volunteer position is that you will have a wide range of experiences that you can take into a full-time, paying position when it's time to pursue one.
If you are a recent college grad, you still may be able to pursue an internship with a reputable physical therapy office to gain some additional experience. These internships are generally reserved for students still in school, but there are some opportunities for recent graduations. These positions also generally are not paid – or if they are, it is a small stipend – but the ability to work with trained professionals is priceless, as you will learn physical therapy techniques that, when combined with your educational experience, can jump start your career. Even if a clinic or rehab facility is not actively advertising an internship position, you may still contact the facility's administrators to see if they would be interested in taking you on as an intern. They will appreciate your confidence and direct approach and you will learn on-the-job training that will prepare you for your first full-time PT position.
Between clinic experience gained in the last two years of school and an internship or volunteer position, you will have enough training and real world experience to pursue a full-time position. Just be sure to soak up everything possible in terms of knowledge and access to professionals who can teach you everything they know.