It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do for a career in 1, 2, 5, 10 or 20 years’ time. That’s what work experience is for!
Instead of diving head-first into a full-time job, work experience can give you a short-term position with long-term benefits. Here are some of them.
Decide what you do (and don’t) want to do
You may know – or think you know – what you want to do for work, but until you get into the workplace and begin to understand the realities of a job, you will always be a little unsure of what that ‘dream’ job is like.
Taking one or more work experience positions will give you an idea of what to expect when you get into the jobs market full-time, and what to expect of a certain job or industry.
You can then start to place ticks or crosses next to jobs or industries, depending on your experience.
Learn skills that will help you in any job
Most jobs have a lot in common, no matter which industry they are in.
‘Soft skills’ like communication, working as part of a team, timekeeping, prioritising, and meeting deadlines are transferable from one job to the next.
You may do some work experience that isn’t anything like your desired job, but you will likely still learn a lot that you can apply for the day you do land that dream role.
Understand what a workplace is really like
Until you step foot inside a real-life workplace, it’s impossible to know what to expect. Not that it’s scary or daunting in reality, but it might seem that way before you have your first day on the job.
You will quickly realise whether the soft skills mentioned above come naturally to you, or if you have to work on them a bit.
Increase your confidence
In learning about the workplace and what skills you possess, you will become more confident in a workplace setting and in your future prospects.
Over time, the experiences you go through and skills you pick up will stand you in good stead no matter what future jobs you have.
Add experience to your CV
If you are short of employment experience, you may be frustrated to find employers who are more likely to hire people )even for junior roles) who already have some experience of the workplace.
Although not all employers see previous employment as a necessity in a new hire, it doesn’t hurt to have a bullet point of work experience and a good reference for prospective employers to contact to hear what a good job you did.
This will also give you something tangible to talk about in an interview.
You might get a full-time job out of it
Of course, if you do really well during work experience, and your employer is in a position to do so, they may offer you a full-time job.
It’s best not to expect this outcome from the beginning, but keep it in mind and always listen out for potential vacancies being discussed within the team. If you really like the job and the workplace, you could be really proactive and talk straight to the HR team or the person in charge of hiring people and ask them if there are any vacancies.
Make connections that could last for years
A lot of the people you work with and for over the years will come and go, but some will leave a lasting impression.
In the case of work experience, perhaps the short term role won’t lead to a full-time job, but the manager may know of another business that has a vacancy to fill, or perhaps a colleague knows of another work experience opportunity elsewhere.
You’ll be surprised what a small world the business world can be at times, so keep you eyes and ears open for opportunities.
Understand the link between education and work
Studying a subject is one thing, but until you see what a related industry or job is really like in the flesh, you will always be wondering what it’s really all about.
Whether it’s English, maths, business studies, science, design, ICT, finance or any other subject, you will see how big and small things you’ve learned along the way can be applied to a job, whether they seem directly related to that subject or not.
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