The benefits of work experience

Oct 4, 2020

In the Highfliers review of the Graduate market in 2019, over a third of recruiters who took part in the research repeated their warnings from previous years – that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process for their graduate programmes.

Employers increasingly expect job applicants to have relevant experience as well as good qualifications.

The benefits of work experience cannot be understated then if you are looking for a graduate role. Here is a list of some of the key benefits:

#1: Secure a graduate job early

Work experience benefits both the employer and the student, in giving both a trial of the other. This means that work experience can be a great way to get your foot in the door of a company and secure a graduate job after your placement ends.

Many companies will offer jobs to their candidates on work placements and internships. Having a student onboard does not just benefit them with cheap labour but also helps train potential recruits. Companies will be more likely to hire someone that they have worked with and know is reliable than take a risk with someone they have only met in interviews.

Students taking internships were three times more likely to secure a job than those without any form of work experience, according to a study by High Fliers Research.

This means it will be difficult to land a job if the only thing on your CV is a degree, as the student with more work experience will get priority for all the top jobs.

#2: Helps you to decide what you want to do

Theoretical knowledge learned at university is valuable but will not fully prepare you for work. Gaining first-hand experience of working in a particular industry will help ready you for a full-time job and help you think about your future.

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.

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.

 It’s better to do work experience in a role you don’t like now than end up in a full-time job and feel pressured to stay for some time.  

#3: Improve your chances of getting a higher degree result

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.

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.

#4: Networking

A work placement or internship not only gives you practical experience but also allows you to meet other professionals and start networking.

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.

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 might be able to help each other in the future and it’s useful to keep your options open.

#5: Develop your skills

Work experience is invaluable in helping you develop your soft skills and making 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.

#6: Can break a cycle of unemployment

At the start of your career, you might find yourself in the vicious cycle of not being able to get a job because of lack of experience.

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.

#7: Adds to your CV

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

The job market is always competitive, but this year even more so due to COVID.

The CVs of students will all look more or less the same to employers. Work experience is crucial in adding to your CV and helping you stand out from your peers when it comes to job applications.

Even now, many students do not do work experience so it will differentiate you from the rest.

With work experience on your CV, employers will definitely consider you above those who do not. For more advice on your CV, you can look here.

#8: It helps you 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.

#9: It helps identify your strengths and weaknesses

Work experience helps 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 in interviews

One of the crucial benefits of work experience is that it helps you in interviews. In interviews, you will almost always be asked how you work with a team. This can be tricky to answer convincingly if you’ve never worked with a team before.

With some work experience on your CV, you’ll be able to give concrete examples of how you contributed with team efforts and what you can bring to future roles.

If you are looking for more advice on interviews you can read this.

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.

To read more about work experience you can read this post.

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