Work Experience can offer you many opportunities to get a little bit of experience under your belt and out you in a good position for the next stage of your application process, whether it is 6th Form or College, University or the world of work. Some people think of "work experience" as just meaning those one or two week placements you get at school, but really any form of work you do before you start your career counts. It can be either be voluntary or paid.
All Experience is Good Experience
Yes it is. The job stacking shelves (sorry, Product Replenishment) can put you in good stead in any application process. They show some life experience, team work, responsibility and an ability to juggle priorities successfully.
I don’t have any work experience, what counts?
Anything counts, be it voluntary or pay, even if it was for just 2 weeks clearing bird poo off the local politicians car, it will look much better then the phrase ‘I spent the majority of my College/University career sitting on my bum, watching daytime television and eating microwave pizzas’. Work experience counts a lot towards prospective employers and admissions tutors, because they can look at your CV/ personal statement and see you have some life experience. It shows you have motivation to get up in the mornings and do a hard day’s graft.
What skills can I gain from work experience?
There are so many skills that can be picked up from work experience. For example if you had volunteered for a charity shop, and had worked on the till, you would have to have dealt with customers at some point. Congratulations you have some people skills. You probably would have had to talk to customers and colleagues, following instructions and queries. You now have communication skills! Yay! Just suppose for a moment that your customer bought many items and the till you had was nothing more then just a money box and a piece of paper. You have to add these up some how. There you go, numeracy skills! These look kick ass on your CV and/or personal statement and give prospective employers and admissions tutors a good insight on many things, and the skills you possess. They can assess your character and your work ethic.
What types of work experience should I be looking for?
OK so a job at the local supermarket isn’t going to be the most exciting or well paid job in the world, but again you still can gain a lot of key skills from these jobs. When applying for university, admissions tutors on certain course look out for work experience in their respective sectors to really get a good understanding of whether the candidate would be suitable. For example when applying for pharmacy degree, ask for some work at a pharmacy behind a counter. When applying for law, ask for work at a law firm filing papers. I emphasise the fact that admissions tutors get very impressed when they see this. There is always the possibility that you could gain future employment from these firms after you complete your degree.
Where can I get information on work experience?
Every university and college will have there own careers advisor who can put you in the right direction. There is also the possibility that lecturers at your university/ college will have contacts in industry and talk to them about you having a few weeks work experience. There are some companies who offer on-line project based work experience (http://www.persephone-one.co.uk/Workexp.html)
What can I hope to gain from doing work experience?
Sometimes, in these cases, pay isn’t an option: after all you are volunteering for a few weeks at their firm and most of the time employees take time out of their busy schedule to train you up. However, if you want an employer/admissions tutor to be impressed, you have weigh up the pros and cons. Work for free for a few weeks, or have trouble getting your dream job or first choice university course through lack of necessary skills. The choice is yours.