Why is work experience important?
Work experience help you stand out from the competition when it comes to finding a job, as many recruiters want examples of work experience, in addition to your academic and extra-curricular achievements. Almost any kind of work experience can make you more attractive to employers and, without a doubt, it is one of the best things you can do to make yourself more employable.
Work experience helps you to:
- Develop your confidence, and skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership, time management, customer service, problem solving, IT and software systems, and show that you are successful at things such as following processes and procedures, making sales and meeting targets and deadlines.
- Put your academic knowledge into practice in the real world and meet people, build contacts and potential referees for future job applications.
- Explore your options, gain an understanding of your chosen career interest or industry, clarify your own career aspirations and achieve personal goals and potentially receive a ‘foot in the door’ and possible job offer.Paid work experience can also provide a valuable source of financing living, social and travel costs.
Examples of work experience
- Internships: usually 4-12 weeks long, often take place over the summer or vacations. They are mostly paid and involve working on live work projects and tasks. Find opportunities on My Jobs Online.
- Placements: these are part of your degree, usually paid and up to a year long.we strongly encourage you to consider doing a placement as part of your degree programme. If you don’t have a mandatory placement as part of your degree, check out the optional work-related learning modules and sign up. Flexible placement options are available, from a Professional Placement Year, to shorter summer placements which are all credit bearing. If you are unsure how to contact your Placement Coordinator or Placement Tutor, email email@example.com.
- Work shadowing: usually unpaid and just for a day or two where you spend time observing someone in their role at work. Useful for people who want to check-out different careers before they commit to them. Family, friends and university contacts can be a good place to start.
- Work experience: is often unpaid and short term e.g. a few days or weeks, where you may be doing some observing or getting involved in some work activities. Some companies offer tailored work experience schemes, however, most students make contact with their chosen organisation directly or through family, friends or LinkedIn contacts.
- Research: at universities, research institutes, charities, governmental departments and companies can help you to build on skills developed during your academic studies and develop data collection and analysis, technical skills, funding and report writing, especially useful if you are considering an academic or research career. Explore reading.ac.uk/careers/urop for opportunities at our Uni.
- Paid part time/vacation work: Commonly in retail, hospitality, healthcare, tutoring and office roles, many with a customer service focus. These give an excellent opportunity to proactice your skills, and see how organisations work first hand. Plus they can provide the opportunity to earn flexibly around your studies and commitments.Opportunities may be available on campus, visit reading.ac.uk/campusjobs to see our current opportunities.
- Teaching, and tutoring : using your subject strengths and knowledge or languages to support students at different levels develop confidence and learn and develop their abilities. Students in Schools offers the opportunity to volunteer at local schools.
- Self-employment and self-made opportunities: you may run your own business, be a social media influencer or vlog creator, write blogs or articles, provide technical support, produce music or play in a band, these can showcase your enterprising skills and creativity.
- Previous industry experience: can demonstrate valuable transferable skills even if you are changing direction.
- Sports leadership and coaching: using your sports achievements and any coaching experience or certifications can be a great way to demonstrate commitment, communication, teamwork and leadership.
- Volunteering: if you have a connection with an organisation’s ethos, you could offer your time to support their activities. Whilst unpaid, this is very useful on your CV in terms of experience and transferable skills. Do-it.org advertises opportunities locally and nationally.The hours you spend could count towards the RED Award.
- Working for a family business: even on a voluntary basis, can show your work ethic and skills in exactly the same way as working for any other business.
- Positions of responsibility: this could include roles such as course representative, elected role in the Student Union, a role in a committee or society, ambassador or mentor at university or in the community. These show that you are willing to lead, and show what you can deliver.
- Other Experiences: virtual Internships, company insight days and career fairs can be a good way to network and find out about different opportunities and industries. Take a look at ratemyplacement.co.uk/insights or e4s.co.uk.
- Make your own experience: contact organisations directly by phone or email to enquire about work shadowing and experience opportunities, as many are not advertised.Follow up contacts or industry professionals through family, friends, career events and presentations or via LinkedIn or social media.