By: Psych Life
The world of work experience can be rather confusing. Here’s some FAQ’s that we think will help you get your head around it.
Firstly, what is work experience?
Work experience is any form of part- or full-time work in a professional business/organisation/industry, whether it be paid or volunteering.
In return for the work you do for the organisation, you learn practical, transferable skills and get an insight into what it’s like to work in your industry of choice.
Why do I need work experience?
You need work experience because it looks great on your CV. It’s always a good idea to demonstrate that you already have experience and have learned essential skills when applying for a graduate job – or any other job whilst you’re a student for that matter! W
With today’s crowded psychology graduate job market, it will massively benefit you if you have something that sets you apart from the rest.
How do I find work experience opportunities?
There are lots of ways to find work experience. We are currently in contact with a number of excellent companies and will be bringing the Psych Life community some exclusive work experience opportunities – stay tuned!
In the mean time, your university should have a system for helping students find work experience, so enquire with your tutor or careers network.
You can also use the old-fashioned networking method. Get yourself on a platform like LinkedIn or attend some networking and careers events and talk to people! You might be able to connect with some great people already in your industry and get access to work that other people can’t!
When should I think about getting some work experience?
Well, as early as possible really. If you get started earlier, you have more time to gather new experience and acquire new skills.
However, most organisations look for 2nd year university students. So, if you’re looking for work experience at a younger age, you may find it a bit more difficult – but don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat. You may just have to use your people skills and do some networking.
How do I apply for work experience?
The application process may differ slightly depending on the organisation, but the exact process will be made clear to you. Usually, it involves a series of stages, starting with your CV and cover letter. You may then be required to do some online tests before an online or face-to-face interview.
What skills/qualifications do I need to get work experience?
As we mentioned, lots of work experience opportunities require at least a year’s university experience beforehand. This is because there are some vital skills that you learn in your first year that may be required. So, you need to be able to demonstrate basic skills such as competence with Microsoft Office, SPSS and report writing.
As for qualifications, companies rarely ask for more than a 2:1 overall grade at the end of your first year – and this can normally be in any psychology-related course. They may also ask for B or C grades in GCSE Maths and English.
If you haven’t yet completed your first year of university, make sure you show your A Level grades.
Should I go for paid work or volunteer?
There’s pros and cons to each. Obviously, with paid work experience you get paid (it’s in the name), which is always a bonus, but in volunteering you don’t. Lots of the best and most competitive work experience opportunities will pay well.
However, don’t dismiss volunteering too quickly. After all, you are ultimately doing the work experience for the skills and for your future job prospects, not the money! There are some really great volunteering opportunities, such as working in schools, which make you very employable. Especially, if you have not completed your first year of university, volunteering may be the way forward!
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Whether it’s paid or unpaid should come second in your decision to whether the work experience is right for you! Base your decision more on what you enjoy doing and which skills you will develop from it.
Got any other questions? Ask us in the comments below – We’re happy to help!