Work experience is simply marvellous. It will give you some super useful skills, an insight into the world of work, the chance to meet new people and it will make your CV sparkle – perfect for when you’re looking to impress placement and graduate employers.
Take a look at these handy resources and advice to see how other students have benefited from work experience and why employers just love it when they see it on your CV.
WHAT COUNTS AS WORK EXPERIENCE?
Excellent question – we’re glad you asked. Here’s a video we prepared earlier to answer that for you.
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to gain experience and develop your skills. For more information about the different types of work experience and the benefits of them, take a read of this blog post.
That’s entirely up to you! But there are certain factors to consider that will help you narrow down your decision, including:
- Your career aspirations – do you want something that will give you an insight into your chosen industry? Or are you open to try something that’s not degree-related?
- Your current skills – are there certain skills you want to develop further or maybe don’t even have at all? Identifying your strengths and weaknesses can help you see what you need to do.
- Your interests – you’re more likely to feel motivated about getting work experience if it’s something you’re passionate about and believe in. Look at societies that are relevant to your hobbies or volunteering organisations that align with your beliefs and values.
- Your availability – have you got time to work every Saturday? Can you easily travel to that role in Bilston? There are lots of practicalities to consider when looking at opportunities. It’s recommended you only work a maximum of 20 hours part-time during term-time too, so there’s also that to bear in mind.
There’s no such thing as too much work experience. Having a breadth of work experience where you’ve picked up a range of relatable skills and knowledge will work wonders for your placement and graduate job applications. Plus, employers will like it if you’ve recently gone out and proactively sourced your own opportunities because you want to progress your career – rather than just taking part in a week experience week because it was compulsory.
100% yes. Having experience will show an employer that you have interests and experience outside of your studies and you will also gain real-life examples of your skills in action – so make sure to talk about them in interviews!
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what a student recruitment officer from KPMG said about work experience:
“General [non-degree related] experience is really important as it teaches transferable soft skills that we find very valuable in the workplace. Retail and customer service-related experience is very useful and enables students to perform better within their graduate roles. A varied mix of different types of part-time work would be optimal. It gives you a broader skill set and commercial awareness.”
Nope. While some types of work experience could give you insights into your chosen industry (internships in particular are useful for this), it’s not essential. Many employers are looking more at the transferable skills you pick up from work experience (such as team work, communication and leadership skills) rather than what you actually did.
Plus, one of the benefits of doing work experience outside of your degree area is that you get to explore industries you might not have previously considered – you never know, it could end up changing your career plans for the better!
It’s never too late! While we always encourage you to start looking for opportunities in your first year, you can still learn new skills and gain experience as a final year, postgraduate and even as a graduate.
If you’re finding you’re not being shortlisted in graduate applications, then try getting a part-time job or volunteering – you’re bound to notice a difference in your application success rate.
There are so many places you can look! As always, Aston Futures should be your go-to website when looking for any type of opportunity, but there are loads more handy resources just a quick Google away:
- For part-time jobs, you can use job sites such as Indeed, Total Jobs and Reed – just specify you’re looking for part-time jobs in the filters.
- There are a few dedicated volunteering websites you should check out – vinspired.com is a volunteering platform for people aged 14-30 and Do-it can help you find volunteering opportunities relevant to your interests.
- You can find internships on a number of job sites too, but you could also look on Milkround, Prospects, Student Job and employment 4 students.
- There are 130 student-led societies and clubs here at Aston, which you can join at any time throughout the year. Take a look at what they are.
First of all, congratulations – give yourself a pat on the back for being a star. Secondly, your work isn’t over once you find a role – now it’s time to make it count! Have a read of this great article by UCAS which lists ten ways to get the most out of work experience.
STUDENT CASE STUDIES
So we’ve already established that we think work experience is great. But what about the people who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt? Well, we asked them to share their work experience stories…
“I gained an internship within the nuclear and power industry, which enabled me to understand what I was passionate about and ultimately make an informed decision on the type of career I would like to pursue.” Read Muhammed’s blog post.
“The experience you gain and skills you develop by being in a society are invaluable when paving your future career path. Going into interviews and assessment centres, I now feel more confident in my ability – work experience is definitely worth it!” Read Zafirah’s blog post.
“The most useful experience I used in my application was self-employment as a gardener in my local area; I even used this as an example in my final (and very corporate) interview with IBM. This just shows that having a diverse variety of experiences can be truly helpful in securing great roles, even if they appear to have no relation at first glance.” Read Jordan’s blog post.
WORK EXPERIENCE FAIR 2020
If you’re sitting there thinking ‘I need to go out and get me some work experience ASAP’, number one – that’s great. Our job here is done. Number two – book yourself onto our Work Experience Fair.
This event, in partnership with the Students’ Union, will be your chance to chat to a wide range of local employers and registered charities with exciting work experience opportunities that can fit around your studies.
It will be taking place on Tuesday 10th February from 10.30am-2.00pm in the Students’ Union Hall, so print off a copy of your CV and book your place through Aston Futures. We’ll see you there.
STUDENT EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2020
If you’re already one of those awesome people who has a part-time job, then you are eligible to be nominated for the Student Employee of the Year Awards!
This is a national competition that recognises and celebrates students who successfully combine a part-time job alongside their studies and make an exceptional contribution to their employing organisation. If you're a winner, you get a fancy award, an inviation to the SEOTY awards dinner and a £100 cheque.
To be in with a chance of winning, ask your employer to nominate you for a category before 5pm on Friday 27th March 2020.
Our JobShop team are just itching to help you secure some work experience. So, whether you’re eager to enrich your life and those of others by getting stuck into some volunteering or you’re looking to earn some extra money with a part-time job, make sure you go and speak to them. They’ll be able to help you explore roles, offer you CV advice and help you prepare for interviews.
Tel: 0121 204 4844
Visit: 1st Floor, South Wing (next to the Careers+Placements Centre)
The JobShop is open 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday, all year round.
You can also book an appointment with a member of the team through Aston Futures.