My degree is in an extremely heavily-regulated field, nuclear engineering, and I'm not a software engineer. I made the mistake of going to a mid-tier school and zero recruiters came to my school, and internships weren't possible - every company I interviewed with for internships had a list of schools that they would only accept from. Everyone I graduated with wasn't able to get an internship and is actually in exactly the same position as me. Every company I've interviewed with has said that they need me to already have nuclear industry experience before I can work there, even for entry-level positions. I have academic research and they've all said that's not the same and doesn't count. I've asked everyone I interviewed with how they got their first industry experience and they all say they already had a family connection - I don't have that.
I've managed to get a job working IT at one of these companies, but it's not possible to transfer into the right department - you need X years of direct nuclear experience to apply internally, and every company I've interviewed with since joining has said that my experience isn't nuclear and doesn't count. They're correct, but I feel stuck. It's not possible to make a nuclear "side project" - in fact it's illegal to do so. Again, everyone I graduated with has still failed to get a nuclear engineer job and they're all either in grad school or gave up and are working in a different industry, so I don't think it's a personal failure on my part.
How can I get my first industry experience in this position?