In the run up to the launch party for our You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook Korin Grant and I are posting a series of blogs aimed at students and new grads which offer some tips on career building. In this third post we look at the issue of work experience.
Work experience is important for lots of reasons. It helps you to learn about yourself, gives you the chance to meet new people, try new things and demonstrates your passion for an area. It can also be lots of fun and sometimes helps to pay the bills!
So here are a few things to note about work experience.
- Not all work experience comes from paid ‘work’. Volunteering, shadowing opportunities, insight days, student societies, community groups and positions of responsibility are also great ways to develop your skills and road test career options.
- Your work experience doesn’t need to relate directly to the career you are interested in. Any work experience is valuable. Employers want to hear about the summers you spent serving ice cream and the part time bar work you do at uni. It’s about the transferable skills that you gain and how this demonstrates your ability to contribute in their organisation.
- Use work experience to help you to connect to people and organisations related to your chosen career option. Maybe you can’t work at Google yet but you can volunteer with an organisation that needs your help developing their social media presence and using web analytics.
- Finding new work experience is particularly easy at university. There are volunteering opportunities, student led societies, competitions, part time work, research roles, hall representatives, council positions, careers fairs, mentoring roles and more.
- If you can, consider extending your studies by a year and either seek out a placement or study abroad. Both options will offer you the opportunity to develop, learn new skills and expose you to lots of new people and experiences.
- Make sure you add your new work experience to your CV and LinkedIn profile! Learning to talk about your work experience and telling people that you’ve done it is almost as important as doing it in the first place!