FAQ – Work Experience:
Prized by universities and employers alike, ‘work experience’ is definitely something on all good student’s bucket lists, but why is this? This week, we take a look at a few questions on why work experience is important and how it will help you.
Don’t forget, if you have any other questions about work experience you can get in touch via our website and on Twitter or Facebook.
Why do I need work experience, I do plenty of work at school?
We understand that the thought of doing more ‘work’ in the holiday may seem incredibly unappealing considering the amount you do while at school, but rest assured that it is very much worth the effort in the long run. For a start, the skills you use and experiences you have will be very different to those you have gathered at school and for that reason work experience can challenge you in often enjoyable ways. Our research has also found that those students with work experience stand a 3x better chance of being successful in an application. Why? Simply put, the employer will know you have a better capability to hit the ground running and less time needs to be spent assimilating you to the working world.
What counts as work experience?
We would define work experience as putting yourself in a professional context and observing or participating in the world around you. This could be for an hour, half a day, a week, you name it… Obviously the longer you spend at an organisation, the more you will learn but you will surprised how much can be garnered from a day of work experience especially if you make the most of it.
How does work experience benefit me?
For a start, the world of work has different processes and routines that you will need to experience to some degree and learn about. More importantly though work experience can significantly help direct your thoughts on potential careers and boost those all-important soft skills. Experiencing a variety of sectors will help decipher which might suit you in the future and which, equally importantly, do not lend themselves to your skillset. Work experience is also the perfect way to start working on soft skills and generating examples of them outside of the school curriculum. Let’s take communication skills as an example: from actions so small as asking someone about the possibility of working with them or shadowing them and offering everyone in the office coffee, our skills are developing alongside your confidence.
How do I go about getting experience?
Rule one on this is not to be afraid of rejection, because it will almost never be about you, but more about the spare time a company or individual has to give you. Contacts of your own or through your parents are normally a great first stop for work experience, but if there is a sector that particularly interests you then don’t be afraid to email an organisation and ask if they have any opportunities available, even if it means you just observing for a half day. As mentioned above, even the process of looking for work experience boosts your skills and can teach you a fair amount.
Do I have to do the job I get work experience in?
Not at all, this is the great thing about transferable skills (employability skills) – they transcend job sectors as long as you are able to identify them within what you do. If you do manage to get work experience in an area that suits you, even better, but it is by no means a necessity.
Should I reference work experience in my personal statement?
You should only make reference to work experience if you are to use it to illustrate another point, skill or interest. So for example, don’t simply say “I spent a week working in a graphic design studio.” but instead expand that to include: “my interest in art and IT skills were greatly improved during a week’s long work experience at a graphic design studio I was able to organise for myself.