What are the benefits of work experience?

4 August 2021

a woman having a discussion with another woman in an office environment

The term ‘work experience’ often refers to a short period of time spent within a company gaining an understanding of a real working environment. In most cases, work experience is unpaid, and it usually involves shadowing existing employees and carrying out tasks to give you a feel for a specific role within a certain industry.

But why should you bother gaining work experience in the first place?

Why is work experience beneficial?

The truth is, there are a number of reasons why work experience could be highly beneficial to you. To find out some of the top advantages, keep reading.

– It gives you first-hand involvement to see if a job is right for you

It might sound obvious, but gaining experience in a role that you’re seriously interested in fulfilling one day gives you first-hand involvement to see if the job is everything you expect it to be. It’s likely that your work experience will confirm that it’s the sort of role you’re looking for, but it might also make you realise that it’s not quite the right fit for you. In this case, this will give you the chance to rethink your next career move.

– It gives you the opportunity to meet new people

During your work experience, it’s likely that you’ll meet and get to know a whole host of new people who are working within an industry that interests you. Aside from being a great way to socialise within the workplace and even establish new friendships, you’ll be able to grow your network and make professional connections with like-minded people. While you’ll learn a lot about the role itself during your work experience period, there’s a good chance that you’ll learn a lot from the people around you too.

– It can increase your chances of getting hired

In a large pool of hopefuls applying for the same job, it’s important that you’re able to set yourself apart from the other applicants – and having some work experience under your belt could do just that. In fact, an employer could disregard your application entirely if you don’t have any form of previous work experience, so it could definitely increase your chances of getting hired if you’ve spent some time in the workplace. 

– It gives you insight into the world of employment

Especially if you’re fresh out of education, such as college or university, completing a period of work experience gives you the opportunity to gain insight into the world of employment. Even though it’s unlikely you’ll be paid for your time, you’ll still be required to do everything that a regular employee is expected to do. From turning up on time every day, adhering to company guidelines, to dressing appropriately for the role, work experience enables you to practice for when you enter the working environment for yourself. 

It can give you a confidence boost

Regardless of whether you’ve just graduated and you’re looking for your first job out of university, or you’re considering completely changing your career path, the working world can seem daunting. The good news is, completing a period of work experience could give you the confidence boost you need to go out there and reach your professional goals. 

How is a work placement beneficial?

The term ‘work placement’ is often used interchangeably with the phrase ‘work experience’. Many people consider them to be the exact same, but it could be argued that there are some key differences between the two.

A work placement is sometimes used to refer to an extended period of time spent gaining on-the-job experience in a place of work. Work placements are normally completed as part of a course. For example, a student enrolled at university might complete a ‘year in industry’ work placement in order to complete and obtain their degree.

The benefits of a work placement are very similar, if not the same, as gaining work experience. In fact, there are many overlaps, but to discover some of the additional benefits of work placements, read on.

  • It’s more in-depth

You might find that a work placement is a lot more in-depth than a period of work experience – especially if it links back to a course you’re studying. If it’s been organised through your education provider, such as college or university, or even via your current employer, you might find that the experience provides you with a much more detailed and honed-in understanding of a particular role within a specific field of work.

  • It gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your skills 

By working within an industry that you’re seriously contemplating for your future career, it gives you the chance to fine-tune your skills so that you’re ready for the work environment when it comes to applying for jobs. You’ll also have the chance to apply elements of your academic learning in the workplace.

  • It adds invaluable experience to your CV

If you’re completing a work placement as part of your education, you’ll be able to add any invaluable skills and knowledge you’ve gained to your CV, making you a much more attractive candidate to employees. This is a huge bonus if you’re about to finish college or graduate from university, significantly increasing your chances of securing your first job.

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