How important is work experience?

Written by Calvin Bowers

Gaining work experience throughout your time studying is invaluable. Two-thirds of employers report looking for graduates with relevant work experience when recruiting for a role. This means that not only are you building upon your existing skills and knowledge, but you are also improving your chances of getting hired after uni.

What do I receive from work experience?

  • Firstly, undergoing some form of work experience will help you to decide whether the career you are thinking of going into is the right one for you. You will be able to gain an insight into a particular job role and industry and see if it was how you expected it to be.
  • Secondly, it gives you the chance to apply the knowledge from your course to a practical setting. This means putting all the concepts, theories and frameworks to the test when performing your daily tasks and activities.
  • Thirdly, work experience provides an opportunity for you to build upon and expand the knowledge and skills you already have. Many companies will have different processes and use different software and programmes for carrying out tasks, so exposure to a new way of working is a valuable experience in itself. Alongside this, work experience allows you to develop your transferable skills, such as communication, organisation, and teamwork, to name a few.

What type of work experience is available?

There are numerous different types of work experience, making it all the easier for you to go out and get some!

There are internships, work placements, summer jobs, volunteering roles and more for you to get stuck in to.

So, what’s the difference?

Internships are periods of work experience with a company that can last between a week and 12 months. Usually, many students decide to enrol in summer internship programmes, providing a period of work experience over the summer break, but they are available all year round. Internships are a great way to experience what it would be like working within a particular industry or company, and even present a foot in the door for a future employment opportunity. This is shown by how 70% of companies report hiring individuals who had undergone an internship with them previously.

Work placements are usually offered as part of a university course, providing students with time out of their studies to work in industry. Typically, this will be a year out but may vary depending on the degree you are studying. For those placements that last around a year, you will usually receive a salary; this provides you with an opportunity to gain experience whilst earning money along the way.

Summer jobs present an excellent opportunity to earn some money whilst developing your transferable skills. The most popular summer jobs include working in a café, at a summer camp, at a theme park or even at a festival! Furthermore, if your summer job is somehow related to your potential future career, this provides you with relevant experience to put on your CV.

Volunteering gives you the chance to give back to the community or help a cause you are passionate about. Volunteering demonstrates to employers that you are dedicated, motivated and spend your time proactively, alongside helping you to develop the all-important transferable skills.

In a nutshell, work experience is extremely valuable, even if you end up working in a temporary or a part-time job that you really don’t enjoy. For starters, you will know it is definitely a role you don’t want to do in the future and, secondly, you have gained more experience than somebody who is sat at home doing nothing. If you would like more information on all the opportunities out there, visit our dedicated page on work experience.

Last Updated: Friday October 9 2020
Go to Top