Whether you’re a first-year or a second-year student, now is the perfect time to start looking for that all-important work experience. You’re going to hear it a lot from your tutors and lecturers, to ‘make sure you get at least one placement’ and if like me, procrastination is your worst enemy. I suggest you set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forgot about it or think, ‘oh it’s fine, I’ve got ages’, because the truth is you haven’t; first year is going to fly by and second year won’t wait for you!
You might think that the only point of doing work experience is for your CV. You probably think you’ll just sit there twiddling your thumbs, or be given a stack of 2,000 envelopes to stuff, stamp and send. Although some work experience does involve doing basic tasks, it can still be very important.
Some work experience placements might even give you the opportunity to take on some really interesting and challenging responsibilities. There’s no doubt about it; work experience is incredibly important!
In my first year I ignored my lecturers badgering on about finding myself that all-important placement until it was too late. When I finally sat down and wrote my letter, got it checked over and it was all ready to send, half the year had already gone; finding my placement was looking like an impossible task, but I didn’t give up, I stayed positive and sent my letter by post and email but unfortunately the reply I got was ‘sorry, this year’s placement positions have already been filled’. Typical, I knew I should have started earlier but I thought it was going to be so easy to find a placement, how wrong was I!
However, I wasn’t disheartened and I applied for a placement at the Sunday times. Although I had missed out on the forthcoming placement for the summer, I was in luck and I was offered a place for the following year for two weeks, which was great; as it was in my field of work, most courses ask for at least one placement but more is ideal, as it’s only going to better you, not only for your CV but for your own experience and for your end-of-year final projects. I do wish that I had listened to my lecturers and found a placement in first year and second year, just to have gained that extra experience, I say first and second year because it is unlikely you’re going to be able to find the time to do a placement and all your final-year projects, exam prep and dissertation all at once. However, the fact that I didn’t give up even though it seemed like I was never going to find a placement paid off and I had the best time I could have ever imagined at my two-week placement. I am so glad that I have done it; it gave me a great insight into the world of journalism and made me even more passionate about possibly going down that career path.
However, if you still need convincing on why you should do work experience, here are 5 facts on why it’s so important:
1. In at number one: young people are more likely to be successful in their job hunt if they have done some good work experience. Fact. Want some evidence? Well, over half of the graduate recruiters that took part in a recent research study by High Flyers said that, “graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.”
2. If you haven’t got a clue what career you want to do, work experience is a perfect way to sample all the career options out there. It’s a way of exploring different jobs without actually committing to anything. You can dip your toe in the water without taking the full plunge.
3. It’s the best way to get a real sense of your chosen industry. You’ll get to speak to employees and ask them questions. You won’t know what it’s like until you get closer to the action.
4. Doing work experience shows passion and interest. Evidence that you have done work experience shows the employer that you are motivated to get into a chosen career and that you’ve done your homework.
5. If you’re floundering about and frankly aren’t that bothered about your career, work experience might just be the kick up the backside you need. If you do a variety of different work experience placements, you might find something you are passionate about and get motivated.
Speak to your Faculty Work Based Learning Unit to support you with industry placements or visit the following websites to look for work experience opportunities:
If you’re still unsure of where to start, speak to one of our careers consultants or employability officers face-to-face via ASK appointments or use our e-guidance service for advice over the telephone or by email. Call 0116 2577595 or email firstname.lastname@example.org