Work Experience Whilst at University: Is it Essential for Your First Job?

Work Experience Whilst at University: Is it Essential for Your First Job?

Going to university is seen by most as an adventurous and exciting period in life, as well as a transitional period which sets you up for the rest of your life. Work experience such as an internship abroad or utilising language skills in a role closer to home is often undertaken by many language students to boost their CV and maximise their chances of getting a graduate job, but is it worth it?

Gets You Used to the Workplace

For those who have a clear objective at university and are set on a career path, work experience can provide a good indication of workplace environment and conditions. This can be useful when applying for a language job after university, as employers value someone who can quickly adapt to the job.

It is also a good way to test the waters and see if the job type is right for you, something which will save you time when you apply for jobs after university. The experience can also ease the shock of transitioning from studies to full time work.   


Can Detract from Studies

Although the period spent in work experience differs from student to student, it is usually significant and can be time consuming. Studying for a language degree is often stressful enough, and having to work and study simultaneously may detract from academic study time and all important results in the long run.

Therefore, think about how useful experience is to your field, and how much time and effort you will spend juggling two large commitments. You are, after all, studying for a language degree, which is arguably the most important qualification when looking for a graduate job, and should always be your priority.  


Some Employers Require Experience 

Gaining experience is essential for some employers. Looking to the finance industry as an example, many recruiters will demand at least one year of experience. For such areas it is possible to gain an insight by managing your own personal finances, for example by setting up your own ISA or opening a demo account to with a forex or CFD broker. However, this would often be just the starting point.

To check whether experience is necessary, it could be worth contacting a language industry employer or looking online to see how valued experience is in your chosen region or language. It is worth noting that the entry requirement for some jobs is solely a degree, as full training is given. If this is the case, work experience might not be advantageous to you.     


It’s Not for Everyone

It is all well and good getting good work experience, but the truth is that many students have no idea what they want to do after university. Work experience chosen at random is likely to be uninspiring and unlikely to lead to a career, so it is certainly not something to be rushed into. 

Language degrees are not career specific, and there are students who have no intention of using their degree to find a job, but rather to extend their subject knowledge. A music degree, for example, does not lead to a specific industry in the same way an engineering degree does, so work experience may be more useful to the latter. 

The significance of gaining work experience really depends on how quickly you want a job after university, and how much you learn from the experience itself. It is most useful to people who have a clear idea of where they would like to end up career wise, but you must be able to tell an employer how it is relevant to the job you are applying for. It is far from essential, but ultimately it is down to you to decide whether it would be beneficial or not.  

Today's blog comes from Freelancer, Murray leClair.