If we’re all honest, work experience is often viewed as a bit of a waste of time by a lot of students. A simple tick of the CV rather than an actually life developing experience or gaining career insights. A week or two spent making cups of tea and sorting out filing cabinets that make young people dread working life rather than look forward to it!
A big question that hangs over the whole ‘work experience’ notion is, is it actually worth it? A tick on the CV and potentially improved job prospects aside, many students don’t actually think that they will gain much from in terms on knowledge while they are on placements.
Many of us heading into work experience placements tend to assume that we won’t be given particularly important jobs to do, or worry that we might be over-loaded with boring, mundane tasks.
However, work experience is definitely worthwhile in the current climate. Gone are the days of being sat for 8 hours a day sealing envelopes or fetching someone’s lunch for them! In recent years companies have started to use work experience placements to their advantage, meaning they now allow work experience candidates to do some real worthwhile tasks. This means that most placements will actually throw you in at the deep end and get you fully involved.
If you are not completely sure about what career path you want to take, then work experience is something that should definitely be considered. For a start, if nothing else, a work experience placement will give you a taste of what a standard working day is like. You’re likely to be treated like a temporarily employee in a professional environment and be given assignments just as if you were a fully-fledged employee there.
Also work experience gives you the opportunity to meet people in the field your studying in. You can ask them any burning questions you may have about your potential future job, and they can give you some top tips about how to get into a competitive job.
Placements aren’t just there to encourage you to do a job, but also to learn if a job isn’t for you. One of my friends at uni went on a hospital work experience placement in South East Asia and realised that her life-long dream on being a Doctor actually wasn’t for her when she started feeling increasingly nauseous around any blood! While she was gutted, and did enjoy here placement abroad, it saved her 8 years of training and studying for the wrong job. By the same token, another friend of mine undertook a work placement at a PR firm because it was the only one that accepted her. Despite being in an IT course at uni, she loved the work experience so much she decided to pursue a career in it!
You should be open to all opportunities that come your way at Uni. Sadly, having a degree doesn’t just been that you’ll get a job – you need to stand out from the crowd. If you do end up having a placement somewhere that is pointless – aka: glorified tea make – then so be it. It will still look good on your CV and you can just take another placement somewhere else!