Work experience, volunteering, internships….why are they important?

…… make sure you’re in the best position to move on into the work/study area of your choice on graduation!

With hundreds of opportunities already being advertised on our vacancy database, MyCareerHub alone, the start of semester, before the academic work really kicks in, is a great time to start working out what sort of experience you might need, and how to get it.

You’ve no doubt heard often enough, from the Career Service and beyond, that your degree alone is unlikely to be enough to get you that job in the graduate workplace.

Don’t get me wrong, your degree’s vital – get the best one you possibly can – however, it’s also the starting point for all graduates, so whatever else you can combine with your degree is what’s going to make you stand out.

As philosophy grad Katy remarked recently – ‘During the summer of my penultimate year, I did an internship (HR, Standard Life) which resulted in being offered a permanent job so this work experience was central to gaining my current role.’

Getting experience is also useful for the opposite reason – are you really suited to the particular job you were considering?,  as PPLS grad Gwen illustrates:

‘I’m very glad I got a placement in the career I thought I wanted to enter (teaching) while I was still in uni.  I hated it, and learning that was even more useful – I could easily be doing a teaching qualification instead of an accountancy course right now, which would definitely have been a mistake.’

So that’s where  work experience, internships, volunteering, getting involved with clubs and societies can all make the difference. You’ll gain:

  • experience – of particular work-areas, situations, organisations, to help you secure your next move after graduating, (and also useful for deciding against career-options, as well as confirming them, as Gwen so eloquently demonstrates above!)
  • skills – transferable to different areas
  • ideas – for your future direction

…….to market to future employers, and to help you work out your next steps after graduation.

Work experience, internships etc come in many shapes and forms, and some opportunities are more formal than others.

Most of you will develop a mix of experience during your university years via volunteering, active involvement in clubs and societies,  part-time and vacation work, as well as the more formal internships and work placements.

Use the Careers Service Internships and Work Experience  section to help you track down:

  • advertised internships – often with big-name organisations, consulting, financial and legal sectors, though some in the Third Sector, SMEs, on campus , via STEP internships etc
  • unadvertised ones, via research and speculative application, very  possibly using social media too (often necessary in media-related work, see Scotsman experience above)
  • internships on campus – in a range of different roles and university departments
  • internships with SMEs
  • unpaid work experience (sometimes necessary when trying to get relevant experience for psychology-related careers, publishing, media etc) – though make sure you’re not exploited – we only advertise suitable opportunities of 4 weeks or less.

And go along to the Careers Fair, Third Day, and employer events to talk directly with employers and find out about their internships, work experience, and the type of experience they look for in new recruits. Check MyCareerHub for details of events throughout the semester.

Get working on your work experience, to ensure your future works out in the way you want it to.

This entry was posted in internships, volunteering, work experience and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Work experience, volunteering, internships….why are they important?

  1. Lee Madden says:

    Great post this one ☺



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