The Importance of Work Experience
What is the one thing that companies want from an employee? A degree? Subject knowledge? Well, they do want that, but most importantly they are after people with real experience of the industry. I always believed that the degree was the most important part, but have come to realise you need to know what to expect in real situations.
Before heading off to university in 2015, I thought I would get most of my experiences there. However, that really wasn’t the case. I didn’t utilise my time there properly and missed out on so many opportunities whilst doing my undergraduate degree. I ultimately found myself in a recurring cycle of emails from employers saying I didn’t have enough experience once I graduated in 2018.
Fast forward to today, I’m currently doing my Master’s degree in hopes to gain more experience and knowledge about the industry. I also thought that being a MA student would give me the edge to gain more experience – just email a company and they’ll be interested. However, it really doesn’t work like this and I have struggled a lot with securing myself a work placement for the year. There have been a lot of hopeful emails sent with initial responses, but then absolutely nothing. This is when you’ll probably say; ‘why don’t you pick up the phone meg, that’ll be quicker?’. Well, that’s because I’m not the most confident person on the phone. Not ideal for the industry I want to go into.
But, I plucked up the courage and eventually did it. I had lost hope of getting a response via email and just had to do it. You definitely need perseverance to find a work placement, it’s the only thing that will get you through the rejections or no responses.
Whilst I regret not trying to find something during my undergraduate degree or sooner this year, I pushed on through and have found myself a placement. I’m currently at a marketing communications agency here in Southampton. After getting that one ‘yes’ from a company, I feel like I have found my voice and feel confident enough to contact other companies so I can gain some more experience before I finish my course in September.
If there is some advice I can give you, it's get as much experience as possible - it all helps and looks amazing on your CV, and if things aren't going your way, just keep on pushing and something will eventually pop up.
If you have any advice or tips for gaining work experience, please let me know!