There are so many reasons why work experience is useful; the clue is in the name. So many employers ask for experience in your chosen field, sometimes it can be more important than your qualifications depending on your career path. Historically, internships have had a bad reputation, but they are highly valued. They help you get to grips with what you would be expected to do in the role, as well as gain familiarity with the working day and environment. Their importance is evident by the fact that up to 71% of graduate jobs can be filled by previous internee’s and those that have worked in the company in another capacity.
Norman Day, director of the careers and employability service at the University of Hull said: ‘Many international companies won’t consider applicants for their graduate programmes without work experience’. So what are the main reasons why you should complete an internship?
- It’s a chance for both you and the company to try each other out; you can see if the job fits you and if you fit the job. You will also get the chance to learn new things about the company/profession that will give you an edge when you apply for a job.
- A work placement can build skills that you might not necessarily learn at university such as negotiating and leadership.
- The assistant director of work experience at Birmingham University explains its value: ‘It’s proper work that’s of value to the company, and set up so that the student gets practical experience and learns a great deal…The company should treat you like an employee’.
- You get a chance to meet people who can be useful in finding out how to develop your career further and also as possible references.
- It shows dedication and passion, especially if your placement is unpaid – you are demonstrating that you are willing to give up your time for free to progress your career.
- As demonstrated with the amount of employees recruited after already working at the company, there could be a chance of a permanent job afterwards so the placement should be treated as an extended interview. Careers in law and media can often be filled with up to 50% of employees who have completed an internship at the company.
- If the placement isn’t all that you hoped it would be, it could be a blessing in disguise by showing you that this career is not for you.
Top undergraduate employers 2014-2015 as rated by students (Ratemyplacement):
Barclays offer summer internships and short-term insights and normally have about 300 vacancies. These are in the investment banking, personal and corporate banking sectors. They offer a competitive salary, real-world experience and hands-on involvements.
- Bank of America
They offer a range of roles relating to investment banking and have a presence in over 90 countries.
This Professional Services Organisation recruits in accountancy, consulting, finance and IT and promises that your experience there will last a lifetime.
- Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley offer 10-week summer programmes and industrial placements which they say is the main way into their full-time programmes.
Another Professional Services Organisation, they offer a wide variety of roles to recruit into such as HR, technology, marketing and legal. They value their placements and see them as a great opportunity.
Microsoft, John Lewis, Disney, TeachFirst and Nestle also made the top 100, so there really is something in every sector.
So if you’re looking to secure a full-time role, then completing some work experience or an internship can certainly help your application. As well as reassuring the potential employer that you have the skills and experience they need, it will help you establish whether this is the right career path for you. As well as being advertised, some companies will consider you if you just send a speculative application or an email expressing interest. So if there is a company you would really like to work for, contacting them won’t do any harm and may help you get your foot in the door.