Students see work experience as more essential than ever in the quest for a graduate job – this was the overwhelming response from the 1,271 students and recent graduates who took part in the 2007 doctorjob.com student survey.
The survey reveals that students want to do part-time jobs and vacation work that pay in experience, not just money. The rate of pay (or in fact the amount of fun they might have) is not the main attraction for students looking for work experience, although students appreciate it when their good work is rewarded and recognised. Instead, the majority want to do work experience in order to enhance their skills and pep up their CVs. They’re motivated by the desire to make themselves successful applicants for graduate jobs: work experience has become as necessary as a good degree.
Responses about their best work experience moments highlight what really makes work experience so valuable. This survey reveals that employers can make the most of work experience by making sure that students are given work that’s challenging and makes the most of their talents and skills. Students value employers who provide good training and support – and then recognition for a job well done. And the benefits are mutual, as students on work experience can make valuable contributions to the organisations they work in.
The main findings of the survey are:
- Students see work experience as essential. They are often willing to do work experience for little or no pay because they see the experience as its own reward.
- Students are often willing to sacrifice pay or convenience in order to get high-quality work experience.
- Most students find out about work experience opportunities by word of mouth. Therefore positive or negative feedback spreads easily amongst students about whether particular employers delivered (or didn’t deliver) an adequate quality of work experience.
- The majority of students felt that their work experience (even when it had been unsatisfactory in some ways) had been a chance to gain key skills and that it would be an essential tool to help them to find a graduate job.
- When students had been given interesting work and responsibility, their proudest moments were making a success of their work experience – from improving processes to delivering great results on a project. This was far more memorable and important to them than how much they were paid.
Chris Phillips, GTI’s UK and Ireland Publishing Director, comments:
“Providing good work experience is a real win-win situation. It benefits students who learn valuable skills and improve their CVs and it benefits employers who get a fast track to the best recruits. And, despite what people may think, money is not the major factor in students’ minds”