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Importance of Work Experience for College Students

Swati Mittal

Work Experience: What it means?

When it comes to college students, the meaning of the term ‘work experience’ is not limited to only one domain. Broadly, it refers to different kind of roles undertaken by the students in a professional work setting ,i.e., Internships, voluntary work, part-time jobs, freelancing etc. There are many different kinds of work experiences that college students can add to their profile. And each of these work experiences presents them with different roles and challenges, which ultimately helps them build their skills and strengthen their resumes.

Why work experience is essential for college students?

The job market of today is a highly competitive place. Given the current scenario, it is quite hard to impress the employers with merely a good academic background; the simple reason being that employers are looking for candidates with first-hand practical experience of the how work is done in offices under real-life situations. Several studies have revealed that real-life exposure to work has more impact on a person's ability to do a job than their academic degrees. At times, the practical application of a concept differs from what you were taught as a theory in a classroom and this is where work experience comes into the picture for college students. Also, certain soft skills essential for college students entering the job marketcan be learned only in a professional setting. Thus, internships, volunteer works, part time jobs etc. have become an integral part of the college curriculum in today's time. But, before we go on to discuss the various benefits of work experience, let's first have a look at its different types.

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Different Types of Work Experience

Vacation Work Experience

This is one of the most common types of work experience that college students have. It mostly involves full-time internships that students take up during long summer or winter breaks. Summer internships are one of the most common types of vacation work experiences among college students. These internships are highly valued by the employers also, as they require students to work on a full-time basis. And since, they usually last for a month or two they allow students to gain valuable exposure to the corporate lifestyle. Volunteering projects also are a great way to gain some work experience during the vacation times especially, during small breaks that last for about a week or two. 

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Part Time Work Experience

Part Time work experience usually includes work that students take up along with their regular college studies. Students usually take up part-time work to earn extra pocket money. Working on a freelance basis is one of the most popular forms of part-time work which helps you gain relevant experience and develop the right skill set. On top of that, it also allows college students the flexibility to work as per their convenience.   

Work Experience With Organisations

Apart from Internships, gaining work experience with organisations is not a very common practice as it has some prerequisites. However, if you wish to add this form of work experience you can work off-campus after college. You can also take up on-campus jobs like in the college library or as a hostel admin. Startups also are a good way to gain such work experience. Another way around is that if you come from a business family, you could work at your organizations to learn the art. The type of experience gained here can prove to quite beneficial as it also teaches you essential managerial skills.

Voluntary Work Experience

As the name suggests, Voluntary Work Experience is the experience that students can gain by opting to work as a volunteer with an organization. In this type of work experience,  students learn the different nuances of the work but might not be paid for it or are paid a nominal stipend. This, however, is different from unpaid internships. To gain such work experience, you can work with an NGO, or you can volunteer at an event like your college fest or a music festival or maybe even a book fair in your city. Such kind of work experience helps you improve your soft skills and is a valuable addition to your resume. It also is a great way to build your professional network.

How to include volunteer work experience on your Resume?

Benefits of Work Experience

Employers prefer graduates with work experience

The environment of a college campus and that of a corporate office is very different from one another. A good understanding of how work is done in offices can prove to be quite beneficial for the students. In a professional setting, there are far too many things at stake than in a college classroom. A single mistake in a workplace on the part of the employee can cost them their job and the company a lot of money.If there are two candidates with same qualifications and similar CVs but only one of them has relevant work experience who do you think the employer would hire? Surely, the one with work experience, as he knows how high the stakes are and also has an idea of how things are done.

You’ll Develop Transferable Skills

Experience of working in different work settings, not just helps one gain professional experience but also teaches a lot of other practical skills that come in quite handy once you graduate. And, as the name suggests these skills are transferable from one organization to another or even one industry to another. Working as an intern presents you with different situations where you can develop and hone such skills. Mentioning them in your resume also adds a lot of credibility to your profile and leaves a good impression on the hiring manager.  

You’ll Get to Test Things Out

Another great thing about work experience is that it allows you to test the waters before you actually set sail into them. Many courses lead to career opportunities in multiple industries after graduation. Like, for example, mass communication course leads to careers in advertising, filmmaking, journalism, publishing etc. All these fields are quite different from one another and not each and every one of them might be the cup of tea for every mass communication graduate. Some might prefer advertising, others filmmaking and someone else might take up professional photography. But, to decide which of these careers is best suited to them, they need to have some sort of experience in the field. Changing fields once you are working professional is tough job hence, it best to figure out your field of interest before you start working.

Changes you experience in transition from classroom to corporate world

It Could Lead to a Full-Time Job

This is probably one of the biggest benefits of doing an internship. Whenever you work at some place as an intern, the company invests its resources in you, they train you, teach you small things that are essential to get the work done and more importantly they have watched you progress. They are aware of your capabilities and your potential so if you seem like a promising candidate they might offer you a job upon the termination of your internship. Thus, make use of every opportunity that knocks at your door and put in your best efforts in the work you do at any internship.

How to get the perfect first job?

You’ll Learn the art of Networking

Networking has become the need of the hour in today's time. It helps you form valuable connections that come in quite handy once you graduate. Making connections with professionals from the industry you are interested to work in go a long way to help you make a successful career for yourself. For these people can provide you the insights about the industry, its working, functioning etc. They could even lend a great helping hand by pointing you in the right direction or by simply recommending your profile to a fellow colleague. And recommendations no doubt hold a lot of importance these days in any workplace. However, remember that building a network isn't just about what others can do for you it's also about being willing and open to do things for others.

To Conclude,

Doing an internship or gaining any sort of work experience during your college days like volunteering or freelancing can add a lot of value to your profile. It not only gives you an edge over other candidates but eases your transition from a college student to that of a life of a professional. Hope, that this article helped you clear any lingering doubts that you had regarding the importance of work experience in your mind. For more such articles on work experience and internships for college students please visit our website, Also, if you have any personal experiences that you'd like to share please feel free to write them in the comment box below.

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