8 July 2024

Why Work Experience Gets You a Graduate Job

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What’s your goal once university’s over? If it’s a graduate job, you want to do everything possible to secure your dream role right out of uni.

The best way to do this is by gaining relevant work experience before you graduate.

Whether it’s a placement, internship or even a vacation scheme, work experience is so important to have under your belt as it provides you with the practical skills and industry knowledge employers love to see.

Can an internship or placement really help you get a graduate job?

Absolutely! Work experience is there for you to try your hand at your chosen career before anything you take the career plunge IRL.

You’ll get to grips with relevant tasks, work on projects and meet industry professionals. It’s a game-changer.

Also, around 49% of interns and placement students hired by our Best Student Employers were offered full-time jobs.

There are 1001 reasons why work experience is the number one route to snapping up that all-important grad job. We’ve painstakingly picked four. Read on to find out more.

Build your skillset practically

Picture it. You’re in a cool office, maybe there’s a ping-pong table and free pizza on a Friday. You’ve got a snazzy ID badge and are about to head into a project meeting. This isn’t just theory anymore. It’s real life. 🤯

Your work experience is an opportunity to build upon the skills you’ve learned at university while picking up new ones.

Make no mistake, everything you learn at university is 100% important, but you’ll learn so much more doing the actual thing as opposed to reading about it. There are a host of skills you’ll gain while working that you might not have learned at university, some of these can include:

  • Dealing with difficult customers and clients
  • Networking
  • Budgeting

Employers expect you to come to an internship or placement not knowing everything about the role or industry you’re stepping into. The whole point is to give you that practical experience that’ll set you up for success when you either get onto a graduate scheme or a role after university.

“I have developed time management and prioritisation skills. This is especially important when outlining the week’s tasks: what is most critical and needs to be completed first? I have learnt new skills around setting boundaries, learning to say no when I cannot take on additional workload, but also setting aside dedicated time to prioritise my University work. I have also developed my confidence, working to lead monthly CSQ meetings with numerous stakeholders and contributing to both the charity project and business project.”

Commercial Executive, TUI UK

Set yourself apart from other candidates

You share something in common with thousands of other students – a degree! And while degrees are a huge achievement and look damn good on your CV, a Bachelor’s degree isn’t that special on its own.

The graduate market is huge but super competitive. And you’ll be up against plenty of students with similar degrees. In fact, the ISE reports that there are 86 applications per graduate role.

Having a good chunk of work experience to go alongside your formal education will show an employer that you have the theory and can use that IRL. That’ll put you miles ahead of someone who might not have that experience.

You’ll be able to demonstrate a range of skills that those who don’t take on work experience might not have.

Securing work experience before you graduate will show that you’re actively trying to upskill yourself in your chosen career. You’ll score major brownie points with employers when it comes to securing your graduate role.

Think of this formula: your degree + work experience = magic.

Not yet found a placement or internship? Hear from placement students and interns and find out what they say about their work experience.

Gain workplace culture experience

Employers love students with work experience because it also means you have an understanding of what it’s like to be part of a workplace. 

Just because you’re there for a short time, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get involved in activities and projects outside of your immediate tasks.

Being part of a workplace means you get to experience its culture. Whether that’s attending (or even helping to organise) work events and socials, being part of a D&I team, sharing your opinion on current processes or just being a really cool person to talk to at the water cooler makes a real difference.
It makes your experience much better and shows that you’re a team player. A graduate employer would be interested to know what else you did during your time at your placement or internship, so make the most of it.

“The organisation operates with a highly participative culture. I cannot recall the number of times I have been asked by upper senior members for my suggestions on how to improve the processes. The entire Finance Directorate is like a family; we take time to celebrate each other’s achievements every month, and we also look forward to meeting each other during our in-office days on Wednesdays.”

Finance Assistant, De Montfort University

Currently doing a summer internship? Good stuff, here’s how you can get the absolute best out of it.

Meet industry professionals

You may not think it, but the people you work with can be integral when it comes to snapping up a graduate role after university.

You’ll meet and work with a whole bunch of people during your work experience so much so that once you’re done, your contact list will be thick a f.

These contacts will be filled with everyone from colleagues to managers and maybe even clients.

If you haven’t already, get yourself on LinkedIn. Think of it as Facebook for professionals where you can connect with your colleagues as well as key figures within your chosen industry and beyond. Need a little inspiration? We have a full guide on how to get started, just click below.

The point is, any one of your colleagues could be the route to a potential graduate job when the time comes. So it pays to be kind and work hard during your internship or placement.

All-in-all, work experience can really be invaluable and will go a very long way in helping you secure a graduate job. It’s also a great way of learning some all-important life skills.

Whether it lasts two weeks or one year, work experience is a real job where you can make some real impacts and even some differences.

On top of that, it’ll look damn good on your CV. If you haven’t started it already, it’s a good day to start looking for some work experience. Get started by clicking below.