The Benefits of Work Experience

Oct 4, 2020

In this post, we highlight the benefits of work experience.

Whether you are a student or a graduate, you must get some work experience under your belt in order to send high quality, competitive graduate job applications.

So without further ado, here are the key benefits of work experience.


The Benefits of Work Experience – The Short Answer

In today’s competitive graduate job market, having work experience is vital.

Every graduate has a degree. Most graduates will have a 2:1 or a 1st class degree. Put simply, your degree will not make you stand out. Nor will it demonstrate your employability skills.

Your work experiences and extracurricular activities will however make you stand out. Your work experiences are your differentiator. You can leverage your experiences in your CV, cover letters and interviews to demonstrate your employability skills.

Graduate recruitment is risky and expensive. Therefore graduate employers are looking for the most workplace-ready graduates to fill their roles. If you do not have work experience, hiring you may be riskier. This is because the best indicator of the value you will bring to a company is determined by your achievements in the past.

Read on for a bulleted list of the benefits of work experience.


1: Work Experience Can Convert Into a Full-time Job

The first benefit of work experience is that if goes well, it could lead to a full time graduate job.

Employers surveyed in the High Flyers 2021 Graduate Market report revealed that 34% of graduates that they hired in 2021 had previously done work experience at the company whilst at university.

This means that if you are applying for a graduate job or scheme at a company that you have already gained work experience at, you have a significantly higher chance of being hired for a full time job there.

Almost three quarters of graduates who are joining top investment banks have been recruited via work experience programmes. Therefore, these candidates with work experience will have a competitive advantage over those without work experience.

Graduates recruited through work experience by sector or industry
Source – The Graduate Market in 2021

2: Work Experience Helps you to Discover your Career Path

Another key benefit of work experience is that it exposes you to different work environments and roles.

Working out what you don’t enjoy in the workplace is as valuable as discovering what you do enjoy.

Work experience can help reinforce the career path you want or, also important, make you rethink. Trying out different roles and industries is a great way to help you decide what to do with your future by trial and error. For example, you might fantasize about the idea of working in the city, but you will only be able to confirm this assumption with work experience.

One of the benefits of work experience is that it gives you a window into a possible career. You get to see the inner workings of the job and day to day tasks that you might not have heard about on the company website. 

It’s possible to do several work placements in one summer which will help you figure out interests you. It’s also a great way to quickly test out very different careers without much risk.

 Whilst there are lots of resources online about various graduate opportunities, nothing beats gaining work experience to help you to make informed career decisions.

work experience in the city
Photo by Dellon Thomas from Pexels

3: Improve your Chances of Getting a Higher Degree Classification

If you are still studying, taking a year of work experience can be beneficial to your grades.  Research has shown that students that have taken a placement or an internship are more likely to achieve a higher degree result.

This could be because:

  • Work experience helps you to better manage your time, become more organised, be productive, develop your commnication skills and stick to a routine. These are all attributes that will help you in your degree
  • It gets you in the habit of asking for feedback and making improvements to your work. Asking for feedback in your studies will help you to get higher grades.

Having a top grade and a year of work experience would look great on your CV and help you in the hugely competitive job market.

Graduate holding a degree scroll
Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels

4: Work Experience Helps you to Build up your Network

Another one of the benefits of work experience is that it helps you to build up your network early on in your career.

A work placement or internship not only gives you practical experience but also allows you to meet other professionals and build up your network.

Networking is a good habit to get into and the people you meet can provide you with opportunities in the future. They can make you aware of vacancies in your industry or recommend you to clients or other companies they are familiar with.

TEDx Talks

You might not be able to land a job straight away from your connections, but networking with professionals is always beneficial and will give you a more informed perspective on your chosen industry.

It is important that you try to keep in touch with the people you meet on your work placement even when you have moved elsewhere. You could do this via LinkedIn. You might be able to help each other in the future and it’s useful to keep your options open.


5: Develop your Employability Skills

Work experience is invaluable in helping you develop your employability skills and make you ready for the world of work.

It will improve your interpersonal skills and give you confidence in dealing with your co-workers and meeting strangers. Working with a team will help your communication skills and teach you to be organised and disciplined.

The key employability skills are:

  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Organising and planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Professionalism
  • Working on your own initiative

This is one of the most important benefots of gaining work experience. Your chances of securing a graduate job is dependant on your ability to demonstrate that you have the skills to do the job.


6: Work Experience Can Break a Cycle of Unemployment

How can I get work experience without work experience?

Many graduates struggle to break this vicious cycle.

Getting some unpaid work experience or an internship will help you break this cycle and get you on your way to a full-time paid position.

Once you’ve got a few work experiences under your belt, you’ll be able to send higher quality job applcations.

If you do not have any work experience and are struggling to find a job, first gain experience, then resume your job search.

large meeting
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

7: Work Experience Enhances your CV

The next benefit of work experience is that it gves you a wealth of achievements and experiences on your graduate CV.

This will help you to demonstrate your skills and attributes to graduate recruiters. Furthermore, the experience section of your CV is what will help you to stand out.

Your education section will not. Thousands of other candidates will have studied at the same university, studied the same course or achieved the same grade.

When writing your CV, highlight what you achieved or accomplished during your work experience. This will help recruiters to predict how well you will perform in the role.


8: Work Experience Helps you to Mature

When you are doing work experience you will be given work and a deadline, and it will be up to you to ensure it gets done. It is a step up from school and university in terms of responsibility and your bosses will not be impressed with late work or excuses.

You’ll start to learn how to take responsibility for your work, be on time, and act and present yourself professionally.

man in a suit
Photo by Kaysha from Pexels

9: It Helps Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses

The world of work exposes your weaknesses and highlights your strengths.

Work experience placements help you to identify what your strengths and weaknesses are, what you are good at and what you might need to work on.

You will get a great opportunity to compare your skills to other people in the workplace and see how you might improve.

For example, maybe you thought you were great at excel in university, until you see how advanced some others in the office are.

Use your work experience to learn as much as you can from your co-workers. It’s also an important time to learn about office culture and office politics, which will be new to you.


10: It helps you to Succeed in Interviews

The next key benefit of work experience is that you can use your experiences as examples to answer competency-based questions. To answer competency-based questions use the STAR framework. This will prompt you to show the results that you have yielded from your work experiences.

If you do not have any work experiences, you will have to rely on using exampless from your degree or extracurricular activities. Whilst this can suffice if youu give relavent answers, it does not always beat refering to examples from the world of work.

Young people with less experience, may struggle in interviews if they do not adequately demonstrate their ability and passion for the job.

If you had a work experience placement that you particularly enjoyed and can confidently articulate what you enjoyed about it, it will help you to convey genuine interest in an interview. This will help you to stand out.


11: You can earn while you learn

The majority of internships now pay at least the minimum wage, although there are a few exceptions relating to charities, or students doing an internship as part of their course.

If you are taking a year out of university or have just finished, earning some money will be incredibly satisfying and go some way to paying off your student loan.


Conclusion

There are many forms of work experience, from work placements to unpaid internships, and volunteering abroad to part-time jobs.

Whichever one you end up doing, the benefits of work experience are the same. You will learn a variety of skills and you will look appealing to employers. Work experience is vitally important in helping you secure a graduate job out of university. There is always competition for these roles and even more so in today’s economy.

The Seven Secrets of Success

Land your graduate job

Download your free copy of our guide that reveals the seven secrets of success when it comes to landing a graduate job.

  • Learn seven things you can implement today to enhance your job search strategy.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the graduate job market.
  • Find out how you can find your dream job with guidance from a graduate coach.

Please see our Jobs page for graduate jobs.

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