Work experience: What's in it for you?

Alistair Lindsay at RateMyPlacement.co.uk offers 5 reasons why an internship is a worthwhile investment.

Taking time to complete work experience or an internship is a big commitment. Work placement schemes invariably involve hard work and require sacrificing a large proportion of your holiday so why should you bother doing it, or even considering it any further? Well, we don't want to preach to you but there are a lot of advantages to it, and don't just take our word for it, we have invited a few guests to talk about why they think you should get work experience...

1. Work experience gives an edge in the job market...

Nowadays, you need more than just a good degree to get a job. Every year around 160,000 students leave university with a 1st or 2.1 which means you have a lot of competition for your graduate job, especially given the current economic downturn. So how can you differentiate yourself? Get some work experience and don't end up at the Job Centre!

2. You will learn things that you can never learn at university...

What do you learn at uni? For the most part it is academic theory, you may also learn that 3 nights out on the spin will severely hurt your head and bank balance. However what you don't learn is how to interact with a colleague, a boss, a client, or even managing a team. On a placement or internship, however, you will have a better understanding of all these things, and much much more.

3. It will help you get your ideal job...

A placement or internship helps every part of your bid to secure a graduate job. You will practise writing a CV / application, then you experience interviews and assessment days and you learn how to handle yourself in the work place. Then after your placement or internship it goes full circle again, your CV has more on it, you have more to talk about in interviews and you won't make those silly mistakes you made first time around in the office.

4. You will earn some money...

How many jobs will you have as a student that will pay the equivalent of £15k, £20k or even as much as £35k per year? If you want to, you can earn and save good money on a placement or internship which will really help you during term time or help pay off your loan. Don't forget though, it's not all about money... You may be better off in the long run to get a job you are actually interested in rather than take the job that earns a few extra pounds.

5. You will learn what you do, or don't want from a job...

There will be some great bits about your work experience, and there may well be some horrendous parts to it too; you may find out you love working with people, or might not be able to think of anything worse than a client moaning at you all the time. You may have thought you could handle 12 hour days, but actually not seeing friends for 4 months isn't so appealing anymore. A placement is only for a year, and an internship is only for a few months, so you would much rather find out what you want now, rather than spending hours applying for the graduate job, and being stuck in it for 2 years, before you realised it isn't actually the job for you...

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