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
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.