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Work experience for students

Published Monday, 03 August, 2015 by Beth Bradshaw

Three months off is a long time – a very very long time! Plenty of time to see friends, family, have a good catch up and even earn some money. However, it is also plenty of time to gain some valuable work experience in an industry your degree potentially leads to or perhaps one that interests you.

You don’t need to commit yourself 24/7 to your placement, as they will offer various lengths of placements ranging from as little as a few days to full time (4-5 days a week) for a couple of weeks. So don’t worry, it won’t take over your summer completely!

Work experience is especially important for graduates seeking employment. The job market nowadays is becoming more competitive by the day, with more and more students graduating with degrees and more applicants per job. Employees now aren’t only just looking for that 1st/2nd class degree in a potential candidate, but also work experience in industry. Both are just as valuable as each other – yet both will teach you different sets of skills, therefore a combination of the two is the best chance you can give yourself in the job market…

So – why are these placements so valuable to students?

  • They will add that extra string to your bow (or CV) and increase your employability.
  • Placements are a great way of sampling various careers and industries, which can help you to determine the right career path for you!
  • They show off your passion and interest in an industry, both of which are favourable traits in an employee. You are also giving up your own time for the placement, an environment in which you have never experienced before, with no financial incentive at the end of the day it shows dedication and willingness to learn.
  • Introduces you to a working environment, which you can apply to multiple careers.
  • You will be able to identify your strengths and skills in the workplace, not to mention your weaknesses – you might have graduated with a first class degree, but you don’t know all the tricks of the trade!
  • Some placements (usually only if they are successful!) could even lead to job offers to full time work, paid work experience or graduate schemes, further placements or links to other opportunities. That is providing you make a good impression within the business you are working in and stay out of trouble!

Where can I find a work experience placement?

  • Sometimes it’s a case of who you know – so ask around friends, family, friends of friends and family friends for an in to a business. It’s worth a shot!
  • Go into businesses and try to talk to management (or whoever is in charge) face to face, equipped with your CV and a big smile, and offer up yourself for some voluntary work!
  • Your university may have a department that helps students seek suitable work placements, so look into what they can do for you.
  • There are various websites including ac.uk and Targetjobs.co.uk that will help university students seek placements/internships in their chosen industry in locations all over the UK.

I am lucky enough to have a mandatory work placement built into the 3rd year of my degree, and as I’ve started to look around for various opportunities, I’ve realised how important and useful it’s going to be when I graduate next year. So if work experience isn’t a part of your degree, perhaps it’s time to get searching for a placement and get the ball rolling!

Good luck! If you’ve got any great websites for work experience placements or tips for starting on your placement, share with fellow students in the comments section below!

 

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