5 reasons why work experience is CRUCIAL to getting a grad job
So, you’re getting a degree, and you might even be aiming for a first, surely that’s enough to bag you a place on that grad scheme? Unfortunately not. That’s not to say that your degree isn’t important – of course it is, however, with almost 2 million students across the UK, you’re going to need something to set you apart from your peers.
So, why should you get work experience whilst you’re at uni?
If you didn’t already know how important work experience is to graduate recruiters, then this should certainly convince you. According to HighFlyers research “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.” See, it’s not just us who thinks work experience is important!
Don’t have a clue what you want to do? Perfect, work experience or placements will give you the insight you need to make better career decisions after university. From our experience, as graduate recruiters, one of the reasons why students with no work experience struggle to get on a grad scheme is – they have no idea what they want to do – and it shows. With little direction and no experience, convincing grad recruiters that you want to work in Marketing (for example) is a mean feat. The beauty of work experience is that it’s not forever, so, it gives you the opportunity to try out different types of company/jobs without the long-term commitment. The more experiences you have, the closer you’ll get to understanding what you enjoy, and what you really want to do after uni.
It shows employers that you’re motivated (and not just to finish that essay so you can go to the pub). Pursuing work experience or placements gives the right impression, it shows employers that you’re thinking long-term and that you’re interested and driven. And, we can guarantee that once you’ve got a placement or some work experience under your belt you’ll be exactly that! Gone are the days when a placement was all about how many envelopes you could stuff, stamp and send in 8 hours. Yes, some placements will involve ‘menial’ tasks, but so what? All experience is great experience when you’re not sure what you want your career to look like (and you’ll still be in a professional environment getting to see how it all works). More often than not though, a placement or work experience will involve some really interesting work with real responsibility.
Expanding your ‘professional’ network beyond your Mum, Dad and Auntie Julie can work wonders for your future career. You never know who you might meet, and how useful they may be in helping you get a job in the future. Who knows, if you do a great job on placement, you might even be offered a role after uni! But seriously, building relationships with your employers is a great way to get feedback on your performance, get some advice and guidance, and secure a great reference too.
Skills. Work experience gives you the chance to figure out what you’re good at…and what you’re not so good at too. Spending time in a professional environment will open your eyes to the world of work, and whilst you’re getting to grips with the office politics, you’ll be realising what your strengths are, and maybe what skills you need to improve on. Understanding your skill-set will give you the ammo you need to get you through the grad scheme recruitment process – you’ll be able to breeze through those ‘tell me about a time when’ questions with real life examples. I mean we don’t want to say it, but work experience will probably help you “find yourself” and give you a “whole new perspective on life” (after you’ve figured out how the hell to manage your inbox, and got over your fear of the printer).
And if that’s not got you googling ‘placement opportunities’, we’ve gone and asked one of our very own placement students, Chloe, what she’s learnt on her year in industry so far…read Chloe’s blog here