In Year 10 and Year 12, students are expected to complete work experience for a certain amount of time. This involves students immersing themselves in a work environment outside of school, where they can learn about certain careers. Many students see work experience as a holiday. After all, they get to miss school for at least an entire week! However, work experience is much more valuable than you may think, as it can lead to an extensive amount of opportunities.
If you want to discover why work experience is actually so important and reasons for why you should do it, check out the rest of this article!
Why is work experience important for students?
Work experience is important because it allows students to fully immerse themselves into a certain career role. This allows them to fully learn about different professions, possibly giving them ideas about what they want to do themselves, in the future.
Work experience also looks good to employers. This article from UCAS shows how two thirds of employers actually look for graduates who have work experience specific to the job they are applying for!
As a result, many undergraduate degrees offer plenty of work experience opportunities to their students. These are known as work placements and are longer than any work experience programmes in Year 10 or Year 12.
You can discover how else they are different if you check out this article from Think Student. However, even if you are not completing a degree at university, it is really advised that you also do work experience.
If you are struggling with actually finding any work experience that suits you, check out this article from Think Student for some tips. Alternatively, if you are just struggling with ideas for work experience, check out this article from Think Student for some helpful guidance.
If you want to understand more about why work experience is important, check out these 10 reasons:
1. Allows students to learn about different careers
Many students struggle to find a work experience placement that suits them. After all, let’s face it! Not many students know what they want to be when they grow up. This is completely fine of course!
However, this just emphasises why work experience is so important. If you really can’t find a work experience placement and are not sure about what to do, it is best to just go for a random company, or any place that will take you.
Your school may even help to find you a placement. This experience will then allow you to discover what it would be like to be in a certain career. You may be placed in a job that you have never heard of before but then find that you love it!
As a result, your work experience placement would have been invaluable to you, as you learnt about what you truly wanted to do in the future. However, if you find that you absolutely hate the career you experienced during your work experience, this is fantastic news too!
After all, you would then have more of an idea about what career you definitely don’t want to do in the future. Therefore, work experience is important for students to discover what they really want their futures to be like.
2. Makes the transition from school to work easier
When you are a student, your whole life seems to be friends and school. Therefore, work experience breaks up the routine a little bit and shows students what life will be like after they finish all of their education.
This can be useful, as throwing yourself into work straight after school, without knowing what it will be like at all, can be quite a daunting thought. As a result, work experience is essential to allow students to break out of their school bubble and see what the real world is like.
After all, work is very different to school. You will be expected to be independent and professional. There are no more things like house points! If you make too many mistakes, you could actually be fired!
If you are worrying about having a full time job after school, check out this article from Very Well Mind to discover how to mentally prepare yourself.
3. Helps to develop important skills
Work experience can help students to develop their ‘soft skills’. These refer to skills that the majority of employers look out for when employing candidates.
They include characteristics such as good communication, being able to make decisions and having good organisational skills. Work experience can help you develop skills such as these, as well as leadership and teamwork.
This could benefit your personal life but also make you stand out to employers. If you want to discover more about soft skills and how work experience can help you develop them, check out this page from the National Careers Service.
4. Pushes students out of their comfort zones
As already mentioned, students often live in their own little bubbles when they are at school. However, when they start work experience, they could be pushed to do a variety of things which would benefit them in the future.
For example, a shy student may be asked to talk to a large group of people. This would seem terrifying at first. However, the student would soon learn to face their fears and get on with the task at hand.
Consequently, they could actually become more confident and use this newfound skill in their everyday lives. Being pushed out of one’s comfort zone can really show you what you are capable of and reveal how much you really can achieve if you try hard enough!
Knowing that a student has been pushed out of their comfort zone and succeeded in work experience would be seen as impressive to employers – even more so than good grades! If you want to discover if employers really care about your GCSE grades, check out this article from Think Student.
5. Increases motivation to get good grades
Being a student can be difficult. Your parents may say that they are the best and easiest years of your life. However, for many individuals, this may not be the case!
After all, the endless exams and revision can be extremely taxing on one’s life. This can lead to students losing motivation, as they feel as if school will never end! However, work experience has the potential to change this.
This is because if students are able to see what they can achieve after they get good grades, this could motivate them to keep going and power through those exams. However, if you are still struggling with motivation, check out this article from Think Student for some tips.
6. Looks good on a CV
One of the main reasons that work experience is of utmost importance is because of how good it looks to employers. Employers like to see when applicants have shown so much intrigue and passion for their future job that they have gone and completed relevant work experience.
In fact, this article from the UCAS website states that “29% of employers say that work experience is critical when recruiting young people”. Even though most employers don’t see work experience as critical, it is sure to make you stand out when you are up against candidates with no work experience at all.
This is because work experience shows employers that you are dedicated to achieving the career you really want. You could potentially have also picked up some useful skills from your work experience placement which would be helpful in your new role.
7. To build a network of contacts
If you haven’t heard of the term ‘networking’ before, don’t worry! It is really easy to understand. It basically involves meeting new people who share the same career, industry, interests or skills as you.
It involves the building and maintenance of relationships with these people. Networking is an important aspect of building a career because it can help individuals to gain more connections and opportunities. This can lead to more referrals for jobs and eventually could lead to you building up a good reputation for yourself in the workplace.
Completing work experience could actually be the start of your networking strategy. This is because you could meet people in the industry you wish to delve into and hopefully make a good impression on them!
They could recommend you to others for a future job related to your chosen industry, growing your reputation! If you want to discover more about networking and the benefits of doing it, check out this page from the National Careers Service.
8. To discover more about yourself
As already stated, work experience can help you discover what sort of career you would like to go for in the future. However, using work experience for research doesn’t stop here.
In fact, it can actually help you to learn more about yourself! Work experience can allow you to discover what inspires you and what your interests are. You can use work experience to discover your skills and what you are most talented at.
Knowing your strengths is an important attribute to have, as it allows you to select the correct career for you and choose to do projects that you know you will do well in. If you don’t know what your skills are before you enter the world of work, you could end up just being all over the place!
If you want to discover more reasons why work experience could help you, check out this article from the National Careers Service.
9. Increases independence and self-confidence
When you are on a work experience placement, you won’t have teachers supporting you like you would normally have in school. In fact, you may be expected to take initiative and work independently on projects or tasks.
This may seem daunting, as you probably won’t already know anybody in the workplace and would never have done the tasks you would be allocated ever before! However, the experience of being thrown in the deep end could be a turning point in your life.
This is because it would challenge you and force you to be independent. As a result, confidence in yourself will grow and hopefully, you will become more capable. These characteristics are transferable to every job.
10. Could lead to securing a job
As already mentioned, networking could occur during your work experience placement, exposing you to a number of individuals who could offer you different opportunities.
If you find that you really love the job you are experiencing, you may hit the jackpot and find an employer who is looking for a potential candidate. You could use your work experience to get your ‘foot in the door’, as shown in this article from Parental Guidance.
You could then be offered opportunities such as internships! If you want to discover what an internship is, check out this article from Think Student.
Should you do work experience?
Teachers will always recommend students to do work experience. This is because the benefits from doing it are so large! You will be thrown into doing jobs and tasks that you may have never done before and pushed out of your comfort zone.
You may find that you don’t like the work experience placement you were put under. However, this is not the end of the world. After all, you should do work experience because it provides an opportunity to learn.
This is because after you have done it, you can review the experience and analyse the different aspects. For example, you could mull over what aspects of the job you enjoyed and what parts of the job you may have found challenging.
You could learn about what employers expect of you and how you could potentially prepare for a similar job role in the future. If you want to discover more about the benefits of work experience and how you can learn from it, check out this article from My Future.