Work experience is a great way to gain practical insight into a certain role or industry alongside developing important skills employers look for in a potential employee.

The importance of work experience is reflected by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ findings that 29% of employers report work experience as crucial, with an additional 45% saying it is significant. Furthermore, it also reported students who partake in work experience are more likely to be employed in a professional or managerial role within two and a half years after graduation. Therefore, it is a great way of securing a future employment position and reaching your future career potential.

It is important to note that work experience can be undertaken by anyone at any stage of their career but is particularly beneficial to those who have an absence of experience in the world of work.

There are so many benefits to obtaining work experience, such as:

  • Help to confirm your career direction

    Gain an insight into how experiencing a specific role, business or industry can assist you in deciding whether it is what you had imagined and whether you see yourself there in the future.

  • Provide the opportunity to put theory you have learnt into practice

    It allows you to apply specific knowledge from your studies into a real-life setting. This will allow you see your academic abilities put to action, helping you grow in confidence and envision your future potential.

  • Develop valuable transferable skills

    75% of those who gain work experience report it provided them with new skills that employers are looking for. Employers look for potential in future employees highlighting the importance of transferable skills. The most sought-after transferable skills include effective communication, initiative, teamwork, organisation and integrity, which can be gained no matter what sector or industry you take your work experience in.

  • Provide an opportunity to network

    Networking will be important throughout your career as it can present future opportunities relating to the job market, resources, and potential clients and partners. So, it is never too early to start networking to make sure that you reach your future potential.

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the working world

    Work experience can help make your transition to the workplace much easier by granting you the chance to develop a general overview of how businesses and organisations work. Alongside this, previous experience within a workplace setting provides you with situations to refer to during interviews, aiding you to demonstrate the skills you possess.

  • Give you an edge over the competition

    With two thirds of employers looking for graduates with relevant experience, work experience can put you ahead of others and make you stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, it is reported by High Fliers that over a third of graduate positions are filled by those who have already had work experience in the company. With a significant skill gap identified in the UK employers will be keener than ever to recruit those with either previous experience in their company or specific skills that relate to the job role.

With all the uncertainty surround the impact of Covid-19, 49% of employers have had to adjust the way they intend to offer work experience to students this year.

The Graduate Market reports that 34% will be offering work experience online, 20% are delaying start dates and 19% are reducing the length of programmes. Although this could be seen as a negative, it shows that employers are doing all they can to provide work experience opportunities despite the current situation we all find ourselves in, and further highlights the level of value placed upon it.

With various work experience opportunities to choose from, we have compiled information on each one, so you have to look no further.

We recommend you visit our page on internships to find out more about what this opportunity can offer, including the debate around paid vs non-paid.

We have a great list of recommended summer jobs, to help you decide which option is best suited to you.

If you are looking for a different sort of experience expansion, particularly relating to further education, visit our undergraduate page, postgraduate page or apprenticeship page.

And lastly, if you are seeking specific information for your local area, visit our page on Finding Help in Your Local Area.