By Rachel Fisher, our Special Features Editor
So if you've already had a placement or work experience in industry you might not have gained an awful lot from the previous articles in this series. But if you haven’t already read them check them out, particularly "Placements: How to get them" if you’re eager for more work experience opportunities.
Once you've had work experience what do you do with this? You may not be aware of all if any of the doors of opportunity that work experience affords you. Hopefully this final article in the placements series will enlighten you. There are many options open to you as your work experience makes you unique, make sure to draw on this so you can excel academically and stand out from the crown professionally. This article outlines a few of the multitude of ways that you can use your work experience to become even more awesome!
Don't forget what you learnt during your placement especially if it was industry specific. I know there was a lot going on and you might have just spent your time on placement trying to keep your head above water, and if this wasn’t you and you serenely glided through it we don’t want to hear. Either way it’s important that you retain all you learnt during your placement, or as much as possible. The best way of ensuring this is by keeping a daily journal of your work and experiences whilst on placement, but never mind if you didn’t do this. Your experience would have exposed you to anything from technical concepts and methods to communication skills within a professional environment, all of which can be put to good use within your academic studies with the end result being a welcome boost to your grades. Your work experience has given you an edge, it may not be razor sharp but it’s an edge none the less which means that by utilising your experience parts of your course may become purely revision. This is the best case scenario of course, but even if it has only furthered your understanding or given you alternative perspectives this will make you’re your life easier in the long run.
Stay in contact with the people you met during your placement. Make a list, get a little black book, or add them on a multitude of social networks especially LinkedIn, it doesn’t matter how you do it just make sure you do. Many people say it’s not what you know but who you know, and one day you might be able to reap the benefits of having connections, but only if you’ve still got their email address! Industry connections can help you out with your course and give you advice on future work experience or graduate positions, after all they might even be able give you one.
Through maintaining contact with your placement company they may offer you future work experience or even a graduate position. Even if they don't, don't be disheartened besides it's their loss! And could be your gain! There’s plenty more fish in the sea and now that you've had a placement you've got lots of experience to showcase to future employers so that you can stand out from the crowd. This is not only because of your knowledge of the industry but by obtaining previous work experience this shows that you're motivated individual who has acted under their own initiative to gain experience to further your personal and professional development, which im sure you'll agree by now is a pretty smart move.
I’m afraid this is the end. Of this series of articles anyway, I hope they have been beneficial, informative and given you that little push to get onto the very first rung of the career ladder. If this is not the case there are still plenty of sources of information and advice provided by the University’s lovely people at the Careers Network. I wish you every success for the future. Good luck!