How to get the most out of your work experience

The benefits of work experience

Peter Bakarr spent a week with PageGroup’s marketing and PR team to learn about the world of work. As the week draws to a close Peter gives us his thoughts on why work experience is important and how to make the most out of it.
 
Getting your foot on the career ladder can be tough and the competition is harder than ever. As a sixteen year old, currently doing my A-Levels, I am constantly reminded that securing employment after my education will be tough, especially if I have no real experience. Taking the plunge into a week of worthy work experience can eliminate this issue and provide a lot of other benefits as well. 
 

The Benefits

 
It is a known fact that employers and experts alike will always favour potential candidates with previous work experience. This can make it hard for someone trying to get their first job. Those candidates with work experience can demonstrate curiosity, initiative, willingness and confidence, traits which most employers will appreciate. I strongly believe that work experience is beneficial and can help you to show future employers that you have what it takes.
  • Become more prepared – schools and universities generally don’t prepare young people for the world of work. The things you learn in the classroom are different from those you learn in the workplace. If an employer was choosing between two candidates, they will almost always choose the one with the work experience.
  • Gain an advantage – being able to say to an employer that you have work experience gives you the upper hand on those who do not. You have real working knowledge of what the job will be like meaning you can adapt to the new working environment faster and perform your new tasks better. Furthermore, you do not hold any false perceptions about what the job will entail, you know what to expect. 
  • A chance to explore – The time you spend on work experience give you the chance to explore a profession you are interested in. You are still young, so have enough time to ether pursue or dismiss this career path if you like it or not. Treat your work experience as a practical test of your career ambitions.
  • A chance to network – Networking means interacting with others face-to-face, exchanging information and developing a professional relationship. Networking is a vital element in a young person’s educational and working development. It can make it easier to secure work in the future and can provide valuable insights into the world of work. So get out there and get those names, emails, websites and numbers.
 

How to get the most out of your work experience

 
To make sure that you milk your work experience for everything it is worth you should:
  • Be punctual – This is a common courtesy when you start working in the real world, being late will waste your time and your employers’. Being on time also ensures that you are not missing out on anything that your colleagues have planned for you.
  • Ask questions – Everyone you work with should be willing to help so ask anything you are curious about. This will benefit you immensely so make sure you use the opportunity to learn from the professionals.
  • Try everything – Try everything that you are tasked with ad always give your best effort. Even if you do not enjoy something you can dismiss it as a possible career direction. The things you enjoy can be things to pursue when you look for full time work.
  • Observe – Nobody ever tells you to do this, so I will. Observation is key when in a new environment. Observing people at their work allows you to see what actually happens in the workplace, what kind of conversations take place, what kind of objectives people have and what the atmosphere is like. This is information you can’t get elsewhere.
 

My work experience week

 
From only one week of work experience at PageGroup I have been educated in marketing and public relations, my questions have been answered and challenges conquered. I have shadowed team meetings, completed competitor research and analysis, created a social media calendar and written posts for the social channels. I’ve found it to be interesting and informative and not at all like office work is portrayed on TV. In addition I visited Victoria House where the sales side of the business operates. Observing the work done there provided me has provided me with the authentic experience of marketing and PR and given me a feeling of what a career in this industry would be like. 
 
For more career advice take a look through our advice centre. You can browse internships here.