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Work Experience: The Stepping Stone to your Career

Throughout your education there is no doubt that the importance of work experience and its benefits would have been highlighted to you at some point.

Go the extra mile

Depending on your career choice, some work experience will be mandatory. Many college and university courses have compulsory modules where students are asked to carry out work placements or particular periods of work experience. If you are one of those who is not required to do this, it is still beneficial to get some work experience for yourself.

When you head out into the big wide world of work, it will be your academic peers that you will be up against, so it’s important that you do what you can to make yourself less comparable to them on paper. You both have the same degree, but you might have a whole year’s worth of industrial experience.

Stand out

With the current job climate being as competitive as it is, if you can make yourself stand out from everyone else, you’ll be at a great advantage. Work experience is a great way to show an employer you have that extra determination to work hard. Any type of work experience outside of what you have to do shows a number of great qualities that employers will already be looking for.

Get a taster

If you are still unsure of what exact career path you wish to choose, work experience is a great way to give you an insight into different jobs. Most companies will allow you to sample a different variety of areas of their business giving you an all-round experience of how things work. The last thing you want to do is graduate as a teacher, go into a school and realise you don’t actually enjoy it. Work experience is a way to sample and explore different jobs to find out what your strengths and passions are.

Build up your portfolio

For certain jobs, work experience can be an excellent way to build up a portfolio of work. Particularly with industries such as journalism you can come away from work experience with some by lines and published pieces on a variety of different publications and platforms. These are great to have on your CV or portfolio which will help to get your name out there.

Gain contacts

Although companies may not be able to offer you a job there and then, many will keep your CV on file if you impressed them enough. You never know, a job may come up in the near future and you want it to be your CV they pick out to contact, so make sure you show that you are keen and that you would welcome a permanent position should one become available.

Do your research

Researching the company you will be doing work experience with is imperative. Dig deep. Look at what sort of previous employment opportunities they’ve offered, look at their audience, how successful they are and what sort of things you will be doing. Particularly with unpaid work experience, you do not want to do something that won’t benefit you, so may sure you know what you’re in for first.

Although work experience has many positives, like everything there are some cons as well. It is very unlikely that you will be offered paid work experience, and at the very most a company may offer to pay your expenses. This can put a strain on what offers you choose to accept. If you are looking to do a lot of work experience during one period, it might be your summer home from university, it’s important you think about what you want to achieve the most. At some point you may be faced with the choice of two internship opportunities, one is for a well-established media company, the other is minimum wage paid. Before rationally choosing the paid option because you want more money to go on holiday at the end of the year, think about what you will get out of each one.

Although work experience is not permanent, its benefits and what you learn whilst taking parting should be. Make sure to make the most of the opportunities – you never know, they may lead somewhere else!


About the author: Rosa is a recent graduate who knows all about the importance of work experience.

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