Everyone knows the adage; you can’t get a job if you don’t have experience but you can’t get experience if no one will hire you. This is the harsh truth that many a university graduate has encountered, but there are now more ways than ever to gain experience — the first step towards securing full-time employment.
Paid or voluntary, internships remain one of the best ways to gain experience in your industry. Interns are exposed to the ordinary activities of an organisation and as the program continues, they are normally given more autonomy and responsibility.
The long-term benefits are even more significant, with many interns (provided they perform well) eventually hired by that same company, sometimes in a full-time capacity.
Similar to an internship, work experience is exactly what it sounds like. Often completed as part of a high school or university program, it involves students assisting employees with any number of activities, which could be taking minutes during a meeting, brainstorming for an advertising campaign or posting on the company website.
Work experience is traditionally unpaid but the benefits are extremely valuable. Not only do students get the opportunity to understand how a business operates on a daily basis, they also meet a number of people within the industry. These types of networks can be one way to get a foot in the door somewhere in the future.
This won’t necessarily be applicable to all occupations but there are several industries where an impressive portfolio is even more valuable than traditional work experience. Obtaining a role in advertising, design, journalism, software engineering, video game development or marketing could be made far easier with relevant examples of work.
A reporting role at a major newspaper will be likely filled by a graduate with a track record of published work rather than a someone with the same qualification but no evidence of articles outside of their coursework.
Current students have greater access to educational resources than any cohort before them. Technological advances have enhanced the capacity for learning from home and on-the-go, with countless programs, material and online courses available.
Software development hopefuls can practice various coding languages, marketing students can add a string to their bow with Indesign tutorials via YouTube and sites like EdX even offer a range of online courses from powerhouse universities in the vein of Harvard, Dartmouth and MIT.