The only bad work experience is no work experience

As a final year BA Sports Marketing and PR student, my lecturers couldn’t stress enough the value of work experience and gaining as much industry insight as possible. In 2014, just under 400,000 students graduated from university with an undergraduate degree (HESA, 2016), a figure which only increases each year. Competition for graduate jobs is serious business and those whole fail to stand out from the crowd just won’t make the cut.

Gaining industry insight is vital for undergraduates; it helps with assignments but will also strengthen your CV. Most graduate jobs require relevant work experience, just to get an interview. Whilst in my second year of studying, I connected on LinkedIn with one of my lecturers, Martha Phillips, who also works full time at Source MC. I kept in contact with her and in third year, we arranged for me to work at Source once a week.

Networking and staying in touch with people you meet in industry is invaluable. Networking is defined as ‘interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts’. Knowing people in industry is a perfect way in to a company – just build up rapport and then just ask! Everyone in industry has been in the position you are in now, they understand work experience is important and if they can not offer you anything, they will probably know people who can.

Don’t worry if your work experience isn’t exactly within the sector you want to work, especially in marketing, PR and business, no job role is the same. Trying out a little bit of everything stands you in a much stronger position than someone who has only ever worked in one area. Career swapping is very normal for Millennials, so the wider spread your knowledge is, the more successful you should be. I still have no idea exactly what I want to go into when I graduate, but from previous work experience, it has helped me decide on industries I definitely DO NOT want to work in. You will not know this if you have not tried something.

The only bad work experience is no work experience. Getting up early, travelling into the city and dressing smart, even just once a week, is preparing you for work when you leave university. Completing a placement for a period of time shows not only industry knowledge, but commitment. You can have a first class honors degree from Cambridge in Latin, but if you can’t fit into the professional environment and effectively work with others, your knowledge is wasted. Work experience shows potential employers that this won’t be an issue for you.

Working at Source MC alongside studying an undergraduate degree has improved my confidence in my own ability. I am set tasks that make me think but are also achievable. I have written press releases for an array of big clients. I have also learnt how to manage corporate social media accounts. Working in industry has changed my way of thinking to be more critical and to retain clients, the work you do has to be nothing less than perfect. I am grateful for the opportunities Source MC have given me to enhance my professional development. None of which could have been gained through studying alone.

Written by Kira Drabble, 18/11/2016