Post 2, March 2012
Natalie graduated with a degree in psychology before taking a PGCE. She is currently working as a primary school teacher but is contemplating a career move.
As the government’s controversial work experience scheme has featured a fair amount in the news over the past week or so, I have taken the opportunity to have a look at the pros and cons of work experience in general.
During the month of December I recall reading an article in a leading fashion magazine about the benefits of such schemes and detailing a number of companies offering similar kinds of placements. It seems that organisations, from the BBC to certain publishing houses, take on individuals in a work experience capacity.
For those of us unsure about what type of work, workplace or company we would find interesting, enjoyable and presumably thrive in, the concept of sampling the role seems a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience. It may help you to determine whether to cross the idea off your list completely or to fast track it to the top of your pile.
For those individuals with clear and specific career aims it is a chance to meet some valuable contacts and show off your skills, knowledge and enthusiasm. It may help to define your goals by providing a clearer path of how to get to where you want to be. It may encourage you to gain additional qualifications or provide you with an idea of where to apply for similar jobs. Furthermore, it seems that most employers look favourably on those individuals who have taken on work experience roles. It suggests a genuine interest in the field and whether it worked out or not, that you are motivated and willing to experience new ventures.
However, most work experience schemes are fiercely fought after and employers are able to choose from a large selection of applicants. There are also issues surrounding age and experience. Some organisations specify that the experience they are offering is more focused at, for example, those who have just graduated or those with two years’ industry experience.
Then there’s the issue of money. How much are companies willing to offer you? This varies greatly. Obviously, as with the government’s scheme, it may be that there is no financial incentive. The time a company is willing to offer you is also dependant and can vary from one week to 12 months. It can therefore be difficult to find the time and funds to support yourself in gaining the experience. Resigning from your current role or committing yourself for that length of time may prove difficult.
However, there are work experience schemes offering a salary or shorter placements which may make it easier to take time off work to complete. It does seem that one could absolutely benefit from gaining work experience. For example, if you manage to demonstrate that you’d be an asset to a company, even if a suitable job isn’t available currently, you may well be in mind if a position does arise. Plus, the skills you gain will also enhance your CV, improving your chances of gaining future roles.
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