Is Work Experience Essential?

Is work experience essential? Well, the short answer is ‘yes’; the longer version being ‘Yes, and here are some tips about getting it, and what to take from it…’ of course!
You’ve had the short version, so on to the longer one. Quotes from Mike Fetters, the (www.)Totaljobs(.com) Graduate Sales Director’s opinion piece on graduate recruitment, and The Guardian Online careers podcast conducted by Kate Taylor. (Full links below the blog)

Both the pieces I cite from follow a similar theme, and though they’re actually about quite different topics, they serve to underline how the extra step, the extra bits of experience are more relevant now than ever. We all know that being better than your competitors is the way forward, so why do so many of us neglect to think about how to make it the case?
We’ve also reached a point where the system is such that graduates are often skilled and qualified but completely unawares of how to communicate that this is the case.

Kate Taylor tells us quite succinctly about early work experience: “It’s not about the work, it’s about the signals you give out”. I want to make clear that this advice is best applied to early experience (as opposed to a full on Internship of the kind we offer for example) but the advice is solid and can be widely applied; ALWAYS try and give off the right signals, even if you don’t think the experience you have is directly relevant.

Another quote from the podcast is another simple but relevant one, especially in relation to the majority of internships WE offer: “Go for a smaller end production company” instead of a large corporation. How are you going to stand out when you are given no responsibility, when the company is already massively successful, and there are 20 other interns? Compare this to, for example, a young business startup dealing with new media; as an intern you will HAVE to take on responsibility, hit the ground running, but you’ll be able to see some very serious results of your good work and how they shape the company. With these kinds of young companies you stand a good chance of being invited to stay on; an offer that is hugely rewarding and carries with it obvious benefits.

There are too many brilliant pieces of advice in both articles to comment on or relate in this one blog post, so I urge you to listen and read to:

http://careers.guardian.co.uk/audio/work-experience-interns – Kate Taylor

http://www.onrec.com/newsstories/25638.asp – Mike Fetters (from www.onrec.com)

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