For many students, choosing the right career after university can be confusing and incredibly daunting. With assignments and dissertations rightly taking precedence for many third year students, securing employment straight after university can be tough.
Work experience can help many students decide on the right job role in future and gain valuable practical skills that are attractive to prospective employers. However, there are so many more benefits of work experience for students, such as:
- Helping you decide the right career path
- Enabling you to put theory-based learning into practice
- Helping you to build relationships with the right people
- Improving your chances on securing a graduate job
- Improving your self-confidence, maturity and independence
Let’s explore the above advantages of work experience in a bit more detail…
Helping you decide the right career path
One of the biggest advantages of work experience is that you are able to gain a real-life insight into an industry you are considering as a long-term profession. Gaining the right work experience can help to confirm whether your initial choice of industry is the right one to pursue in the future.
Likewise, work experience may also highlight that the day-to-day work involved with a particular industry was not what you initially expected and may prevent you from taking any further action. Either scenario can be really helpful as it clears up any misconceptions and helps you visualise and understand what might be expected of you if were to be offered a job in that particular field.
Enabling you to put theory-based learning into practice
It’s no secret that the best way to acquire skills is to ‘learn by doing’. There is a lot of theory-based learning at university which gives you the all-important background information and foundations for success within your chosen course.
Opting to undertake work experience will help you apply your theory-based knowledge in a real-life setting and help you to properly understand and form a connection between learning and employment. Many employers (including ourselves) are more than happy for students to test new ideas and offer creative input into client campaigns, giving students the opportunity to put theory into practice.
It’s not uncommon for students to base their final project or dissertation on a subject that was explored during a work experience placement as they have a well-rounded view of the initial theory, all the way through to implementation. Businesses can offer support and guidance throughout the project and help students to see how it works first hand.
Helping you to build relationships with the right people
Any work experience or internship helps you to network with individuals you may otherwise not have met. Securing a work placement essentially helps you to get a foot in the door with prospective employers and form relationships with people that could influence your career path later down the line.
Improving your chances on securing a graduate job
Many businesses see work experience as a mutually beneficial opportunity. Not only does it provide students with a better chance of finding a graduate job after university, it also helps employers test a student’s capabilities with a view to recruiting them, should there be a position available in the future.
Students who undertake relevant work experience based around a role they are applying for, are showcasing to employers that they have a more rounded understanding of what that role may entail and this is looked on favourably by many businesses.
Improving your self-confidence, maturity and independence
Work experience doesn’t just help on a practical level, it helps to develop and strengthen personal attributes too. Stepping into employment straight after university can be a scary prospect for many students. Work experience can bridge the gap between learning and employment and help build the confidence of students when applying for jobs in the future.
Adding work experience to your CV demonstrates your motivated, independent and proactive in finding the right role to employers, an attractive quality which stands out during the recruitment process.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a personal account from a student who undertook work experience at our agency and how they found the process from start to finish:
“Being in my final year of university, it began to dawn on me that I should really be thinking about what I want to do after my studies. I took a million and one ‘what job should I do?’ and ‘what career is for me’ quizzes online, and after getting answers from ‘Doctor’ to ‘Cake Tasting Expert’, I finally decided that I just needed to throw myself in the deep end, and get some work experience.
I attended the careers fairs at my university and this is where I met Sarah (Client Director) and Sophie (Senior Account Manager) from a Harrogate Search Marketing Agency, Zelst. They had a wealth of knowledge on search marketing and gave me a snapshot of what a job in the industry would entail. It was really eye-opening as I had never thought search marketing would have so many different areas to it.
I was lucky enough to be offered a week of work experience at the agency and during this time, I covered many aspects of search marketing and began to develop my understand of each service. This included:
SEO: After teaching me the basics, I found it much less complex than the intimidating ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ would imply. I found this area really insightful, as I learnt that there is so much more that goes on behind what appears on your Google search page.
Content Ideation: After critiquing and pitching suggested content for a client, I was able to get creative and create an infographic to sit alongside the pitch. Using the graphic design tool, Canva, I created a couple of infographics to engage the clients’ target audience. Not only did I learn new skills in using Canva, I also learnt how varied and diverse a career in digital marketing can be from day to day.
Social Media: I felt like this area was something I had already had a lot of experience in. But after learning about social media for business, I quickly realised that there is a lot more to social media, than posting your holiday pics to Instagram. There’s many factors to take into consideration when using a business social media page, such as creating appropriate and engaging posts, to keeping a close eye on competitors and seeing what they’re doing differently and what we could take from that and improve on.
Biddable Media: From not knowing much at all about how adverts are presented to Google, to actually creating my own adverts using Google AdWords was a testament to the mentorship at Zelst. They showed me the ins and outs of creating effective adverts, and how to measure their success by analysing metrics such as click through rates and sale conversions.
In just one week, I have learnt so much about the world of digital marketing and I owe it to the team at Zelst for all being such great mentors during the process. The experience has given me a taste of what a real job in the digital marketing sector is like gave me a clearer indication of where I want my career path to take me. I’ve found that I have genuine interest in many of the aspects of digital marketing which I hope to pursue further and hopefully go into a job where I can advance those interests. I can’t thank everyone at Zelst enough for making me feel part of the team from day one, and for all their expert knowledge in their respective fields.”
We understand the frustrations of many students who are applying for graduate roles and are subsequently rejected due to their lack of experience and this is another reason why work placements can be so valuable to get your dream job.
At Zelst, hiring graduates is a big part of our recruitment strategy. We don’t look for years and years of experience, we simply look for enthusiasm, passion and dedication to search marketing and everything it entails.
We offer a range of opportunities for students including internships, graduate roles and work experience. We love to stay connected with the up-and-coming minds of the future and harness that desire to learn, to build a team we are proud to work for our clients.