What is work experience and why should I do it?

Is it even that important?

It’s only for a short time so does it even make a difference?

When you hear the words “work experience”, the above questions are probably ones that you might ask yourself. You hear that it’s good for you but you’re not sure why.

Fear not, this article will explore what work experience is and why participating in it is crucial to your present and future career prospects.

First of all, what is Work Experience?

By definition, work experience is defined as a short term experience of employment commonly intended for young people (students) so that they can get a feel for operating in a professional working environment.

So essentially what this means is that you work for a little while at a certain place so that you can pick up skills and gain knowledge of how the company works.

Work experience is absolutely crucial for a variety of reasons and this article will identify and explore the 5 main reasons why you should get work experience during the holidays.

The job market is Extremely Competitive

In this day and age, any adult will tell you that getting a full-time job is hard; harder than it’s ever been!

A recent research report conducted by Flinders University shows that between 2008-2014, the percentage of new university graduates in full-time employment dropped from 56.4% to 41.7%.

What this basically means is that, on average, less than half of all the people that graduate from university will find a full time job!!

Education definitely is important, but if everyone has a degree, what separates the employed from the unemployed?

With the job market being this incredibly competitive, it’s very clear that you need an edge over your competition.

Getting work experience will give you this edge. Employers greatly value  real-world experience in a professional environment and by getting this experience, you immediately place yourself ahead of the competition.

By getting work experience, you stand out from the pack and also make yourself much more attractive to potential employers!

Builds your Resume

This reason closely ties in with the previous point.

As stated above, the modern day job market is incredibly competitive and work experience is something that can give you a valuable edge over your competition.

Once you finish your work experience term, you’ll get a reference from the company that recognises your time there and endorses you and your skills.

As a result, the reference will provide a significant boost to your resume. This not only helps your long term employability, but will also make it easier for you to get a casual or part-time job whenever you want.

So essentially, the work that you do for a very short while during your holidays will benefit you greatly both  right now as well as in the future.

Before you get your first full-time job, your aim should be to build up your resume as much as possible. Doing this allows you to have a lot of options in your career and ensures that you have the skills to succeed in the workforce.

Get an early feel for a Possible Future Career

Considering a career in a particular field?

Ever look at a profession and feel it may be for you?

Getting work experience is both the easiest as well as the most rewarding way to answer that question.

By gaining valuable experience operating in a professional environment, you can get a great insight into what a career in that profession entails and can make a judgement on whether it suits you.

You’re also afforded the chance to talk to experienced workers on the job and learn more about the industry and what it takes to perform successfully.

Crucially, getting work experience presents you with a fantastic opportunity to get professional contacts.

Knowing people in industry is invaluable as you can rely on their experience to help you make an important decision or to guide you through parts of your professional life. However, there is a much greater benefit.

Which leads us to our next reason…

Opens up Job Opportunities

Any time where you have an opportunity to get yourself known professionally and open up career prospects, it’s definitely in your best interest to pursue it.

If you manage to impress company officials during your time getting work experience, you may be offered a part-time job or a casual role over Christmas.

You know what that means….more money!! Not to mention it’s another layer of experience that you can add to your resume.

Similarly, you also put yourself in a position where you may be offered a full-time job or cadetship during or immediately after graduation from university.

This process involves an agreement with the company where you proceed to study a course related to the industry in university and immediately after completion, are offered a full-time job.

Cadetships involve working with a company while completing university study. For example, you work full-time (4 days) and go to uni one day a week.

Any way you look at it, getting work experience opens a door of possibilities which can help kick-start your career.

Chance to develop Necessary Work Skills

There are certain skills that are required in the workforce that simply cannot just be taught in a classroom.

These are called soft skills. Soft skills are defined as personal attributes of an individual that allows them to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

Soft skills are vital to working efficiently and can only be developed with experience.

Three of the major soft skills are:

  • Communication skills– your ability to communicate well with your colleagues in order to get a job done.
  • Teamwork- employers value people who can work well with others. Collaborating with your co-workers is an essential part of every profession and a skill that is necessary to get any job.
  • Problem Solving- the ability to analyse a problem and think clearly and quickly to come up with a suitable solution.

Of course these aren’t the only essential skills you pick up during work experience. Other include:

  • Working under time constraints- the ability to get a job done within a certain amount of time and/or under pressure is a skill that is absolutely vital to succeeding in the workforce.
  • Taking/following instructions- communicating effectively and following instructions from your boss/supervisor.

The skills shown above may seem to be fairly easy to put into practice, but the reality is that they’re only learnt and developed with experience.

If you’ve ever played a sport, you’ll know that the only way to get better is to actually play. You can read up on all the theory that you want, but you won’t improve unless you get in there and get your hands dirty.

Developing work skills operates on exactly the same principle.

So that’s that!

Hopefully by now you’ve realised that getting work experience is not only greatly beneficial to you, it’s almost necessary in this day and age.

Providing significant short and long-term gain, it will prove to be a great stepping stone upon which you can launch your career and get ahead of your competition in the workforce.

So what’re you waiting for?

Get out there and go for it!

Good luck!

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Aditya Krishnaswamy sometimes found writing in the HSC tiresome, but is very fond of it nonetheless. Completing the HSC in 2015, he found that his experiences studying HSC Advanced Maths and English, Physics, Chemistry and Ancient History were begging to be shared with keen school-goers with the hunger for success. About to study Advanced Engineering at the University of Sydney, Adi hopes his time tutoring in two organisations as well as his time studying in 3 different countries across 2 continents in his 19 years of life can help you get through the pressurised odyssey that is the HSC. A lifelong follower of numerous sports (namely cricket, American football and rugby league), he might even be able to educate the sporty side of you!