Why are work experience placements so important?

I studied Advertising at Southampton Solent University and within about 2 months of starting my course, I realised what a competitive career I was looking to enter. Big ad agencies who handle accounts worth millions of pounds, only want to hire the best individuals. One of the ways in which you can ensure you’re “one of the best” is via work experience. In this post I’ll discuss why are work experience placements so important?

I cannot stress how important it is that you find your niche within this field; something that sets you apart, because there is nothing worse in advertising or marketing, than having someone who just blends into the background.

A good place to start is to gain work experience. It gives you a real taste for what working in your chosen industry is really like, allows you to make vital contacts and gives you the chance to find your strengths if you don’t yet know what they are.

The importance of work experience

You’ve already read the most important reason for it, “experience”. At the end of three long years at University comes crunch time. Get a real job. You and all those other thousands of students who are also finishing Uni the same time as you. Who up and down the country, have studied more or less exactly the same course as you. So when competition is that high, one of the first things potential employers are going to look for is a reason why you are better than the hundreds of other CV’s he or she has piled on her desk. One of those reasons could be work experience.

In short, it sets you apart. It shows your potential employer that actually you weren’t more interested in Uni for the “experience”. You took it seriously, you wanted a career out of it, worked hard and put yourself out there. In my first year at Uni, I got myself a work experience placement at London ad agency, Fallon. From this alone I gained valuable insight, skills and knowledge which benefited me massively in my following years at Uni.

The benefits to work experience placements

Once I had my first work placement under my belt and on my CV, I found it was so much easier to enquire about other potential work experience placements. It basically created a domino effect and I found the more I put myself out there and the more placements I gained, the more people took me seriously and decided I was worth a shot. At the end of the day, an employer has nothing to lose by offering you work experience, but you have everything to gain.

Since leaving Uni, my work placements have continued to benefit me, offering me the opportunity to talk about something relevant and worthwhile at job interviews. Potential employers are always impressed to hear that you actively looked for work experience off your own back too, as opposed to doing it because your University course made it mandatory.

So to everyone who’s just starting Uni, or returning after their summer off, seriously make sure you start considering gaining some work experience and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do so. The majority of large companies start looking for their summer applicants after Christmas and in the new year, so make sure you get in there quick so as not to lose your shot.

If you’ve got any questions or comments, feel free to give me a shout on Twitter, thanks!

Image courtesy of Lukedesignmachine