Why work experience is worth it

work experienceAs soon as I turned 16, I was desperate to get a weekend job. My first position was as a ‘Saturday girl’ in a children’s footwear shop- I can still reel off some facts about Hush Puppies if you asked me. However, at that point I never thought about getting some kind of work experience to help me towards a future career path.  None of us know quite where that will take us, but it is useful to start building up some experience that you can draw upon in future job applications and interviews.

A summer job isn’t just about extra cash

No matter which job you take on, workplace situations can be taken apart to reveal skills that companies and universities look for in an ideal candidate.

Communication skills: From resolving an issue with a customer to making 50 phone calls to other businesses in just  one morning,  pick out situations where you’ve demonstrated a polite and professional manner at work (even if you felt like screaming on the inside at the time!)

Organisation skills: Whether you are at school, college or university, juggling a part-time job alongside your studies displays the ability to organise and work to your own schedule. You can develop this idea throughout the summer holidays by starting activities to run alongside your summer job that illustrate your interests. From maintaining an online blog to volunteering at a holiday club, the more productive you make your summer holidays, the better.

You’ll start to identify your strengths

Try to tie in your personal interests with some aspects of the job at hand when you’re writing applications. If you like to keep your room meticulously organised, go for an administrative position where your skills will be much appreciated. If you are able to strike up a conversation anywhere, why not go for a customer-centered role?  Future employers are looking to see how you would slot into their business, so try to give some personal examples to back up your statements.

It’s a great introduction

Applications for summer internships at big businesses tend to reflect the same process for graduate schemes, so fire off those CVs and puzzle over competency tests for the best kind of practice. You can typically apply once you’re in your penultimate year at university; however some banks and financial institutions offer week-long placements during spring for students in first year. If you have the opportunity to get started early, take it!

Once you’re there, interns can get to grips with how a company runs by rotating around various departments over a course of a couple of weeks. Ask around the office for information on how each section works and make the most of the rotations to develop your understanding.

From there, you can get a better idea of where you could slot in the future when it comes to applying for graduate schemes. If you find that something isn’t quite your cup of tea during an internship, take it as a learning experience which is putting you further towards the right direction of where you’d like to be.

Every application is good practice

It is useful to get into the routine of thorough research when you’re hoping to join a company or business for some much sought-after work experience. Work out what it is about the institution that draws you in, and how your own inspirations and future aspirations relate to their services. The process of getting work experience and a part-time job will prepare you for future job applications where interviews may be a little bit more daunting!

Interviews can take a variety of forms; however the qualities that assessors are looking for follow a similar formula. Do your research on the company, back up descriptions of your work ethic with everyday examples, and don’t forget to think up of a good question to ask at the end. Once you know that you’re going into an interview with a bank of things to talk about, you can start collecting placements to make your CV stand out and demonstrate your interests.

For all those early-birds at schools and colleges thinking about placements, check out the next issue of Source Magazine to see how important work experience is when writing your UCAS personal statement…

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