Vocational courses such as Public Relations and Journalism often require students to go out and get hands on experience through regular work experience. What are the benefits of such work experience though?
A detailed portfolio
When that dreaded time comes of looking for a placement year or graduate scheme, you have evidence of what you are capable of. This will make you stand out against students that haven’t done any work experience as it shows you are willing and capable. It can impress potential employers, especially when you have had work experience with credible and well reputed companies but it also highlights how you can work on a variation of tasks and proves why you are right for the job.
Degrees are all well and good but they don’t offer that hands on essential experience that adds just that little bit extra to your education. University will often educate on theories and how to complete tasks, but without actually working in that area, it can be hard to grasp. Work experience allows you to get a real-life view of the industry, understand office life and see real people doing your potential future job. It also allows you to try out several work placements and understand how your job can change depending on where you want to work, which can offer a more rounded view of your industry.
When on work experience, chances are you will meet a lot of important people. During Public Relations placements, we often liaise with journalists, bloggers and other PR practitioners. These relationships will prove very important throughout your career and once established, are essential to your success. You could be lucky enough to go back to the place you had work experience and get a placement year or get recommended for further work experience with a different business. Connecting with such people on LinkedIn during your placement can create a database of people who may help you out in the future.
Opportunity to change your mind
What you learn in University can really make you want a career in your selected area, however, life isn’t always as University suggests. Work experience allows you to form an opinion on your area of study and whether it is the right career path for you. Changing your mind after a three year degree is not the brightest idea, whereas placements during your first year can make you realise you are studying something that isn’t right for you.
Whichever way you look at work experience, it cannot be denied that it is hugely beneficial. So take a hands on approach and get yourself out there – start your career before you have even graduated!