If you are a current Aston student or recent graduate who’s contemplating whether it’s worth undertaking work experience (even if it’s only for two weeks), this blog post is a must-read for you. Work experience is vital for your chance to successfully secure a good placement or graduate role. It’s worth noting that employers won’t only focus on your degree result – they’ll be just as interested in what you’ve done outside of your studies, what makes you stand out from the pool of candidates. In this blog post, we list five benefits of undertaking work experience whilst studying at university.
1) Identify your career aspirations
One of the main benefits of securing work experience is it allows you to gain an insight into various sectors to see which could work best for you – you might find you love working in a particular sector or for a certain organisation you hadn’t previously considered before, or realise a particular role isn’t one you feel comfortable in. By undertaking work experience, you get a snapshot into what working in a particular job would be like; you get to test the waters and explore a potential career.
2) Learn or develop transferable skills
Work experience is a perfect opportunity for you to identify your strengths or weaknesses, learn new skills, or develop current skills you may hold such as communication, time management, or problem-solving skills. Working in a new environment with new people, where the pressures to complete a range of tasks and meet deadlines are high, will motivate you to work hard and organise your time wisely to complete these tasks efficiently. As a result of undertaking this experience, you can learn and develop transferable skills that can thus be applied when studying for exams or completing assignments at university, or for when applying for placements or graduate roles. It will also help build your confidence through communicating with new people, and it will allow you to take responsibility for yourself.
3) Build your network
Undertaking work experience can help you connect with other people which will be a massive help when you apply for placements or graduate roles. By working or volunteering with a company, you will probably end up getting to know a variety of stakeholders, including other employees, clients, customers and other businesses. If you end up impressing managers in the workplace you may even be offered a permanent role or be referred to someone who could offer you a position. Make sure to stay in touch with anyone you work with – you could end up developing long-lasting relationships which may help advance your career further down the line.
It’s worth bearing in mind that recruiters may be more likely to employ a student who has undertaken work experience with them previously, especially if they had a positive experience.
4) Allows you to put theory into practice
Another benefit of undertaking work experience is that it allows you to apply concepts you learn in university in a real-life context. It provides a different perspective, a context for academic learning and an opportunity to develop your understanding of concepts further.
For instance, if you are a Marketing student and you end up gaining an internship with a Marketing firm, you may learn so much from this experience such as: how to plan and execute a strategy, how to plan and deliver marketing campaigns, how to conduct market research, and you can apply marketing theories from your degree. Moreover, this experience can help you develop ideas for final year projects/dissertations.
5) It makes you more employable
By getting to know the ins and outs of a particular organisation or industry through your work experience, you will gain an edge over the competition when applying for other roles.
Imagine this scenario: two graduates apply for the same job position. They have precisely the same capabilities from similar universities, their CVs are indistinguishable – the main contrast is that one of the candidates finished an unpaid internship in the business they’re applying to get into. As a result of this internship, that candidate looks significantly more appealing to the recruiter because it shows them that the one candidate is motivated to develop themselves and is proactive in teaching themself new skills. Therefore, that graduate looks much more employable.
The bottom line here is, undertaking work experience (paid or unpaid) is essential for making you stand out from the competition when applying for placements of graduate jobs. It shows your eagerness to learn new things and develop yourself – plus the new skills and real-life experience you gain will look great on your CV.