Why is work experience so important for your career?

Although it’s not always the case, it’s been somewhat implied that students are expected to go from GCSEs to A-Levels and then finally, to a degree at university. There are always a few exceptions, but nowadays most careers require a certain path into the industry.

But with thousands of students all taking the same route to get a job in law for example, employers rely on something else to assess applicants and students need something different to make them stand out. This is where work experience comes in.

work experience office (Photo: EG Focus via flickr)

(Photo: EG Focus via flickr)

For a while now, two common debates have been going around in terms of education. The first is whether an apprenticeship or a degree will help you get a career in your chosen industry, then the second – and more relevant – debate is whether it is more important to get a good qualification instead of good work experience. In my opinion, it’s the latter.

Whilst a degree is a great opportunity to demonstrate your comprehension of a subject, work experience sees you put that understanding into action. Without having that insight into the career, you only have the skills and don’t know how they are applied into a real-life work scenario. A degree is the academic aspect of a subject and work experience is the practical side – both are just as important.

Work experience not only develops your career opportunities, but also you as a person. During a typical work experience placement, you will experience different aspects of a business, which all enable you to work on different characteristics such as interpersonal and analytical skills.

On a similar note, my subject – which is journalism – places a huge emphasis on experience because it demonstrates so much about a person’s character. To be able to gain work experience shows that you are committed to the subject and that you are actively looking for opportunities, which is important regardless of the subject you are studying.

Overall, work experience can benefit anyone studying any course, regardless of their career choice. It’ll develop them as a person as well as their career prospects, and it’s definitely more than just making cups of tea.