“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
Graduating can be a scary time for any student. As you take those first few- what can seem daunting – steps it is important to start thinking about whether you want to continue into further education, begin a career, or even start your own business with the skills that you have acquired from university.
I can’t stress this enough – make use of your careers department. The people working there have your interests at heart and can help you gain you something that will become invaluable in whatever path you may choose. That something? Experience.
It’s always good to get your foot in the door if you can; the contacts you can make can become extremely valuable as you move forward in your career. It is here that you can meet people who may be able to give you references on your CV. Volunteering can be a good way to gain experience, and you can often be paid for many of these roles – as well as getting your foot on the career ladder.
Careers fairs are often excellent network events. If you can view these as such and engage with the representatives there face to face, then you can show passion for the role and meet new people in the ever-changing world of contact via e-mails and from behind computer screens. You can sell yourself in a much better respect in this environment.
When potential employers look at your CV they not only look at qualifications, but also what you do in extracurricular activities. Any volunteering and experience will shine through here. Employers want three dimensional people who will fit in well with others and be able to work hard to generate the best results. If there are two candidates who both fit the bill yet one is more experienced then the likelihood is that the job will be offered to them instead.
What about the people who want to go it alone; the business-people, the entrepreneurs, the start-ups and the, frankly, brave? Why is experience important to them when it is possible to start a company from your bedroom as long as you have a unique product or service, a solid marketing strategy, and access to a phone line and business broadband?
Experience is important as it shapes the way we problem solve. We learn from our mistakes and those of others. You might have a great idea and the knowledge to put it into practice, but without experience you are at risk of failure.
As a graduate with experience, I can genuinely tell you that I wish I had utilised my careers department more than I did whilst I attended University. Although at the time University feels like it will never end; sadly it can be over a lot faster than you think. Please make sure you take advantage of the excellent facilities that your University has to offer, because it’s only too easy to forget when you leave that these resources won’t be as readily available and the regret of missed opportunity can be a bitter pill to swallow.