Working ridiculously long hours, making your colleague Mavis a cup of tea and offering your superb lunch-buying service out to the rest of the office may not sound fun. But it’s probably less fun if you are doing all of this for free.
Yes, you heard it. For free. The unfortunate truth is that many industries today require work experience and work experience is usually hard to get – unless you take part in an internship or work experience placement. And the vast majority of these are unpaid placements.
So is it really worth it? 99% of the time it is. Work experience isn’t just a valuable experience, it’s a necessity in some cases. A variety of industries (Journalism, PR, Music, Fashion) are overcrowded with thousands of people sending their CV templates out in the hope of winning a job. With so much competition out there you need to make your CV stand out and one way of doing this is by gaining work experience.
Work experience placements offer a glimpse into working life, enable you to create content for your career portfolio, looks good on your CV and provides valuable industry contacts. You don’t have to work for free forever – many candidates start out working in unpaid placements and are offered paid work or a permanent position.
The important thing is that you maximise your opportunity. Most placements will last a few weeks so use this time to learn as much as possible and make as many contacts as you can. It’s also vital that you do your research before applying for work experience. Ensure you are applying through approved channels and that you do your research on the company before submitting your application. Although you may have to start out working for free, you should find it helps your career progression. And you never know, one day Mavis might be making you tea.