Work experience - worth it or not?
By Heleana Neil
This is a guest post from Heleana Neil, who previously joined our London office for work experience.
T he prospect of walking into a company you don’t work for, or even know very well, can be unsettling and off-putting for some – and the big question that hangs over the whole ‘work experience’ idea is, is it worth it?
Stereotypically, work experience is associated with making cups of tea. Applicants know that they probably won’t be given particularly important or vital jobs to do, and may worry they will be given mundane tasks. However, I feel that a work experience placement is definitely worthwhile for many reasons.
If you are unsure of the career path you want to take, or whether you want to go to university or just straight into a job, it is something you should consider. If for nothing else, a work experience placement will give you a taste for what a working day is like, and you will be temporarily involved in a professional environment and given assignments as if you were an employee.
It is important to try to understand the field that interests you, which you may one day work. You will need to use your initiative and develop a practical skills, such as networking, and you’ll soon find out what the work is really like and if it is the right fit for you.
Even if you don’t end up enjoying things that much, you still gain from that experience, because you’ll know the reality of that career choice – and may choose to look at other routes to go down in the future. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius once wrote, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’.
After my work experience at B2B tech PR agency Fourth Day, I can say that it has definitely been worth it. Last year I did some work experience for an online fashion company, and it wasn’t the same. The placement here offered me more responsibility, and allowed me to work on my interest in writing. I was nervous before I arrived, but the environment was very friendly and welcoming – not intimidating as some people find during their work experience – and I got a true feeling for what it’s like to be part of the company.
As well as this, I now understand the reality of commuting every day and some of the problems that can occur during this process. It’s made me feel more confident about travelling and finding my way around. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Fourth Day, and am very happy to have some PR experience under my belt, which I am sure will serve me well in the future.
Dominik is a trainee account executive, based in the Manchester office