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Ellisse Vernon | BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
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In an increasingly competitive graduate job market a good degree is not always enough to secure the job that you want when you graduate. Experience is critical!
As well as looking at your academic achievements, employers will want to see evidence that you have developed a range of skills that will be beneficial to them.
One of the most useful and beneficial ways of doing this (and helping you to decide on the types of jobs that you want to apply for after graduation) is by gaining work experience.
Work experience provides you with the skills and exposure that will allow you to stand out to potential employers and is a crucial part of becoming ‘workplace-ready’.
Work experience is anything that gives practical experience, from working with a large city employer to working unpaid as a volunteer at the local wildlife charity; this all counts as work experience.
Employers increasingly, want new recruits to be able to add value to their company straight away. If you can demonstrate that you have already achieved a certain level of competence, you will be far more likely to get the job you want.
Securing some work experience whilst you are at university will help you to:
Decide what you might want to do: it can help to confirm career aspirations or even help you to realise that the career that you thought was right for you, is perhaps not. Work experience enables you to see for yourself, what working in that particular career could be like.
Allow you to put the theory about what you have learnt at University into practice: some students choose to base their dissertation or final year project around an initiative or project they have worked on whilst on placement. The support that the organisation can offer in this situation can be invaluable, whilst it allows the student the opportunity to see how something works first hand.
Improve your chances of getting a higher degree result: research has shown that students who have completed a placement or an internship are more likely to obtain a higher degree result, and with increasing competition for highly sought after graduate jobs, your degree classification is crucial.
Networking: a placement or internship provides you with a foot in the door and the opportunity to meet and network with people who can help you with your future career plans.
Secure a graduate job early: lots of organisations use periods of work experience as a recruitment tool. Increasingly, more and more organisations are using students working with them (particularly on placements or internships) as part of their recruitment strategy. Recruiters could be much more likely to employ a student they have seen ‘in action’ rather than one they have only met in an interview situation.
Work experience is any opportunity that provides you with the work-related learning that will help you to prepare for employment. It can take many forms including work-shadowing, part-time work, vacation work, voluntary work, placements and internships.