Work experience – the myth!

Work experience can be a career changing event in ones life. Not only can it be a fun experience but also help you develop valuable on job skills. Different people have different views about work experience. Some believe that it is a waste of time and that you don’t achieve much from a work experience when it comes to submitting your resumes for a real job. Some candidates are against it thinking that why should they work for someone for free when they can be doing a casual job and earn money. Peoples’ opinions can’t be regulated, however, work experience for some has proved to be a career changing event. Let me explain.

Why do work experience?

You get valuable experience that you can add to your resume – Do you ever put down your pay scale in your resume? If you do, you obviously aren’t doing the right thing. What you do put in there is the things you achieved in your role, the things you were responsible for during your work and improvements and contributions you made at work. Work experience will teach you a lot of new things and new technologies etc. Once learnt, you will have the opportunity to use what you have learnt. You will deal with real technologies and real clients. You will also have the opportunity to contribute new ideas to the business as you bring in fresh and new ideas.

You might get a good reference from your work experience employer

Chances are that if an employer is happy with your performance over the work experience, they will write you a good reference letter which you can use for your job applications. They may also be willing to act as your referee over the phone, come time for reference check for future job applications.

You might get invited back to do part-time or full-time work

Let’s face it. You have probably done work experience for 6-8 weeks where the employer has spent time and resources training and mentoring you. They have spent $$$ allocating a paid person to teach you about the business. By the end of it all, you will have a good idea about the business model and processes, and if they see you have the potential to perform, they might even offer you part time or full time work as they do not have to train you again or spend $$$ recruiting and training a new person.

You make contacts that could help you find a permanent job

You will be dealing with the businesses’ clients on a daily basis and chances are that one of the clients may potentially have a job opening. While conversing with them, they could tell you about that opening or leave you a business card to contact them once you are done with the work experience, and considering that they are clients of the business you are working for, they will give more preference to the businesses reference.

You will certainly learn something new – If your job deals with customers, this will be a good chance to be a customer service provider rather than being a customer. It will also teach you the aesthetics of a business and what happens at the back end of the business.

Getting the most out of your work experience!

Look for employers with structured work experience programs in place, or ones that actually seem interested in helping you learn. Discuss what you want to get out of the work experience with your employer. Be prepared to do some general, boring work, but don’t be scared to ask to be given the opportunity to learn from first-hand experience. Be polite, friendly, professional and enthusiastic, even if it’s not as interesting as you expected. And most important of all, make sure you complete all official paperwork so that you are covered for insurance in case you’re injured during your placement. Always remember that even while doing work experience, you are an employee in the organisation and have the same rights as other employees in the organisation.

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Mansoor Walli