Rising unemployment is making it more difficult for graduates to get a job right away so many are planning to take a gap year to escape the recession, in the hope that the situation will have improved by the time they get back.
There are many benefits to be gained from getting some work experience during your gap year. Employers will not just be looking for formal qualifications – they want to see the type of skills that can only be gained by work experience in a commercial environment. You can really make your CV stand out from the competition with the right kind of relevant work experience.
Benefits of work experience
- Improve chances of getting good graduate job – gaining some work experience is likely to land you a better job in the long run. Employers don’t just look for academic skills, they place a lot of value & importance on experience. They can also be reassured that you have relevant experience on which you are making sound career choices.
- Make more informed career choices – you are more likely to make the right decisions about your future career if you have some idea of what to expect and whether you will enjoy the work involved.
- Meet useful contacts – you will meet people who could be useful as future referees, for giving you career advice, or even good contacts for getting a job. Make the most of your networking opportunities & make sure you impress the company with your work.
- Acquiring job hunting skills – you will gain experience of job hunting & making job applications, as well as attending interviews.
- Improve your interview technique – there is no such thing as a wasted interview! Every interview you experience will improve your performance and help to improve your interview technique. Even if you don’t get the job, ask for feedback on your interview performance. Make sure you use this information constructively to make sure you do better next time, rather than becoming upset if you don’t perform well.
- Experience of workplaces – gain a better understanding of office environments and experience different companies’ work environments to see what you prefer. You could also gain valuable practical experience of, for example, construction site safety rules.
- Find out more about a specific career/company – this will help you make better career choices. Is the work what you expected and do you enjoy it?
- You may be offered a permanent job – if you impress the company enough, they may want to keep you on! You need to think carefully about the benefits of staying and gaining more work experience, or leaving to gain professional qualifications. Find out if acquiring a qualification will benefit you in your later career – for example, in terms of potential salary. Maybe they could hold the job offer until after you graduate?
- Gain confidence – work experience will make you more confident of your abilities which will help you in interviews
- Money – many forms of work experience are paid, although you will find that some are voluntary.
- Skills development – work experience is mainly about developing new skills as well as enhancing your existing ones to increase your employability. Recruiters are looking for a broader range of skills than those gained from just studying.
- Apply your theoretical knowledge – work experience that is directly relevant to your course will allow you to apply your theoretical knowledge to real work situations. This can help to motivate your studying as you can see its’ relevance and how it works in practice.