STUDENT BLOG: The value of my work experience

This week’s guest student blogger is Maths student Richard Allen.

“My name is Richard and I am a third year maths student. I have had a few work experiences, of which some have been more enjoyable than others, yet I feel they have all been useful in their own way.

My first work experience was at an accountant’s. I had had a paper round for a while before this but this was the first time I had worked in a full time workplace. I did enjoy it and learnt a lot, however, at the end of the two weeks there was nothing that I was particularly proud of and I didn’t feel like I had achieved much.

Because of this, I decided to get more work experience. I have always been interested in statistics and therefore tried the local district council and enquired if they produced any statistics.  They did and they and offered me short placements in the finance department and in the partnerships department. The partnerships department placement was excellent. The department wasn’t very big (in fact it was three people and one of those was on maternity leave) which meant the work experience was extremely flexible. For the main part of the placement I was given a large data set of results from a survey and from this I was able to solely produce a report on the results. This report was later used in a council meeting. This experience obviously allowed me to learn many things, but best thing was it allowed me to get more work experience in the future.

Last summer I managed to get an internship through the Student Internship Bureau in the health sciences department on campus and I enjoyed it so much I am now pursuing a career in this area. During this placement I helped produce a report which will be published in the coming months. Whilst there I enquired about what the strengths and weaknesses had been about my application and discovered that part time or temporary jobs were more or less ignored in this instance. The previous summer I had worked in a food factory, on the production line, and I was disappointed that in my application, this work was not, I considered, given enough recognition.  I think it turned out the best parts of my application were my degree studies and the work at the council, despite the fact I probably developed more skills in the food factory. The best thing about the council work experience is that it had been able to show that I can independently produce a good piece of work.

From this I think the main thing I’ve learnt about applying for jobs, is that the only way to get experience is to have experience, but more importantly, that the work experience doesn’t necessarily have to have developed your skills, but has to show you have skills. Personally, I don’t think employers should look at work experience this way and should recognise that all forms of work experience help develop a person and their ability in the workplace.”

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Check out our work experience resources online now.

If you are a current student and have a career related topic that you’d like to share with other students, please contact careers@york.ac.uk

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