This post is mostly aimed at young people between the ages of 15 – 18. You are free to share it with anyone you know of this sort of age!
If you’re going into year 10, uni might seem an age away, and your social life currently the most urgent thing to worry about. Even if you’re at university, an internship might not sound as fun as partying the night away.
You’re not wrong – relationships and having fun are important – but so is your career. You know, what you want to do for the rest of your life, nbd.
But seriously, getting an idea of what you want to do as a job is pretty important, especially if you live in the UK. Our higher and further education (whether it be sixth form, colleges, university, apprenticeships etc.) usually only offer specific courses like biochemistry or journalism or hairdressing or classics… A couple of universities do combined honours or similar sorts of qualification but these are in the minority, unlike liberal arts colleges in the US.
The range of further and higher education is incredible, but it comes with a price: the paradox of choice. To make the best, most informed decision for yourself, you need to find out more about the possible future you can have with each choice and work experience is the best way to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Understand Your Options
It’s all very nice if you have a couple of favourite subjects like art or physics, but usually, what you learn in these subjects aren’t directly linked to the skills or expertise needed in the scary and competitive real world. Don’t ditch your dreams just yet, though!
To find out exactly what you like about your subjects, try contacting some local firms that do something that you think you might find fun or interesting. You can also try searching for work experience programmes in your particular area of interest. I will do a further post on where to find work experience!
Once you’ve finished your work experience, reflect on it. What did you find interesting? Who inspired you? What is the environment like? Try to figure out if you can imagine yourself doing what they are doing. Find out what matters to you, what sort of job you might aim for.
Doing work experience is also a valuable stepping stone for you to meet new, like-minded people. They can give you insider knowledge into an awesome industry! Some may call this networking, and despite the corporate-sounding name, this is all about building connections with people.
Research suggests that 60% of jobs go unadvertised. Work experience is a great opportunity to impress a future employer. You might even gain mentors and people who can give you a leg up in the future! After my work experience in the summer, I still keep in touch with my host who sends me monthly magazines from her company.
Learn New Stuff
Any new experience will help you learn new stuff. But work experience specifically will give you new skills that you don’t necessarily learn in a classroom, for example:
- Presenting professionally in front of strangers
- Pitching ideas
- Solving problems
- Dressing appropriately (as superficial as this sounds, it’s an important part of work)
- Apply what you’ve learnt in school
You can also gain confidence, experience different environments, figure out what you’re good at and what you want to do more of.
What’s more, sometimes you might even earn money! Don’t expect to earn money, but don’t pay money either. It’s a win-win situation for you and for the company.
Be proactive – look for opportunities, don’t wait for someone to tell you. As scary as it seems, your future is down to you so embrace it! Trust me, you will enjoy it more.
Here’s a graphic to sum up all the reasons why you should do work experience!
Have you got any work experience scheduled? If you’ve been on internships before and you’d like to share your experience, let me know in the comments!