The value of work experience: Giving yourself another dimension.

Having a degree is a tremendous asset when it comes to making yourself more employable, but it’s not the only way to stand out to potential employers. Work experience is an important part of becoming ‘workplace-ready’. Building useful skills that cannot be taught in the classroom as well as contacts that students otherwise would not be exposed to.

Work experience also equips you with knowledge that will enhance your job applications and particularly your interviews. Because you’ve gained a better understanding of the sector you want to go into, you’ll be able to talk more authoritatively and ask questions that resonate with the employer…

You might think that the only point of doing work experience is for CV fodder. You probably think you’ll just sit there twiddling your thumbs, making tea, envelopes to stuff, stamp and send. Although some work experience does involve doing menial tasks, it can still be very important.

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.

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.

It’ll help you identify your own skills and perhaps even highlight the areas that you might want to work on. Ok, so we’re not going to go all ‘Gap Yaaah’ on you and tell you how it’ll totally “change your world view, man”, but it’ll definitely give you a good understanding of your strengths and weakness.

About 80 per cent of employers think work experience is essential, according to a survey by the City & Guilds vocational training organisation, and two-thirds of employers would be more likely to hire a young person with work experience over someone with none.

So go out there if you haven’t done so already! And If you’ve been doing some already, go ahead and encourage someone else out there who you know would benefit from it.

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