How does work experience benefit your future career?

Authors Avatar by kacuzzka (student)

Student ID: 200803061

What evidence is there to suggest that work experience is beneficial to your future career?

In today’s world, having a university degree is not a guarantee for obtaining a university-level job to graduates anymore. An increased number of young people go to universities and the resulting elevated competition makes the students want to differentiate themselves from the crowd (Ascough, cited in White 2011). One way, which enables student’s CV to stand out, is by having work experience. This term is quite broad and could mean having a part-time job, doing a summer internship or a whole year in industry. However, the most evidence seems to be provided for the benefits of doing an internship, so that is what will be mostly discussed in this essay. Furthermore, the evidence for the significance and benefits of work experience is going to be examined from the viewpoint of the three main stakeholders: students, universities, and employers.

Firstly, it is important to consider the impact and benefits of work experience to students. Work experience provides a great opportunity to develop valuable employability skills and makes the students stand out from crowd in the job application process. As noted by Graduate Yorkshire project manager Ascough (cited in White 2011) there is a great competition in obtaining a graduate-level job and work experience can improve the chances of being recognized from a big pool of applicants. Hence, students with work experience are in favor because the employers acknowledge their CVs and it is more likely that they will get invited for an interview. A recent report by High Fliers Research Ltd. (2013) found that employers view work experience as one of the ways by which students can exhibit their competencies and skills. Moreover, work experience is specifically of a high value to students because they can develop various employability skills. For example, Gualt, Redington, and Schlager (2000) did a study in which they investigated the effects of internships on career skill development and success, on the business alumni from a northeastern U.S. university. The non-intern graduates were asked to what extent did the university help them to develop certain career skills. The intern students were asked the same thing but with a subsequent question about the internship contribution to those skills as well (Gualt et al. 2000). Gualt et al. (2000) found that the intern students thought that the internship prepared them more in 5 out of 13 evaluated career skills, such as in job interviewing, creative thinking, etc. This shows that work experience has positive contributions to the development of students’ career skills. On the other hand, it can also mean that the work experience has only “provided a more novel, timely, and contextually rich exposure to these career skills,” (Gualt et al. 2000, pp. 49). This would imply that the internship itself does not necessarily teach students the career skills but only improves students’ skills learned from the university. Either way, it can be deduced that internships are beneficial for the students’ careers as they enhance their career skills. However, the evidence provided in the experiment of Gualt et al. (2000) can be hardly generalized as the experiment was only carried out on business alumni from a northeastern U.S. university and therefore may not apply to the students worldwide. That is why there should be done more research in the other parts of the world. It can still be concluded that there is some evidence of the positive efficacy of work experience for students as it enhances their career skills and makes them recognizable by the employers.

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Interestingly, the university views on the effectiveness of work experience are not quite unanimous and not all universities see the benefits of work experience. As stated by Etheridge (1987, cited in Gualt et al. 2000) some universities undervalue work experience and think that internships are belittling their status of delivering high quality education. This might be because they are worried of people viewing them as insufficient career preparation providers. However, the evidence for this conservative view of universities on work experience is more than 25 years old, and thus can be classified as outdated. Nevertheless, it should not be condemned ...

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