All us undergraduates and graduates hear about is the "race" to find jobs and "getting a degree just isn't enough". So what is it that we need to do to ensure that all graduates, whether they graduate with a 2:2 or a 1st, really have a chance in this static economy? It really is as simple as work experience.

I am currently interning at London-based recruitment agency The Graduate Recruitment Company, part of the Aspire Global Network. I've just finished my second year at uni and like many other undergraduates I'm not certain on which career path I should be taking. For this reason I thought it would be worthwhile to get some real experience in a sector relevant to my business degree to help me be specific with my goals once I graduate.

You constantly hear the recruiters here, on the phone being frustrated with graduates calling and asking to work in 'media' or some other such vague area, so you will have a real advantage as a graduate if you have relevant work experience that helps you pinpoint the exact area you want to work in.

My previous work experience was limited to short term holiday roles to make a few extra pennies, so when I had the chance to get an internship slap bang in the middle of London I was so excited but also nervous.

My role at the recruitment agency is based around marketing activities so as to compliment my business degree. More than just learning about what the job entails, I've learned a number of other valuable skills:

Getting Techy:


The first value of my work experience is shown in how accustomed I've become to using a number of programs including all Microsoft Office programs, particularly Excel, in addition to reporting software and databases. I also often amend the company's website so I've got to grips with the company content management system. It is essential when you're undertaking work experience that you take advantage of it as much as possible by learning as many different programs as you can which you can then show off when it comes to applying for your first proper role after graduating.

Stepping Out of your Comfort Zone:


Whilst interning I've also had the opportunity to be a regular blogger for the company's site! Now, I always wanted to do journalism but never had the courage to do a degree so targeted at a specific career path, so I was really excited to start writing some blogs although I have had no experience in the past. I was thrust into the deep end and initially I found it difficult but within a few minutes I loved it! It really unlocked my creativity, which I wasn't aware I even possessed up until now and so here I am writing you this blog entry…

Tweet Tweet:

With the ever-growing popularity of social media it would be doubtful to think my marketing role wouldn't include tweeting and updating Facebook. Being 20 years of age I'm familiar with the current social networks so this task I found rather easy! Just by posting current news affairs, available job roles and gimmicky tweets you are effectively opening the company up to the world which I found really enjoyable.

Early Mornings:

As a general note, work experience has subjected me to the early rises common to commuters! As I'm a uni student it's typical to not wake up before 11am, so, when I had to start getting up at half 6 I really was distraught! Now, this may seem daunting but don' t worry- time is a healer! Your body quickly gets used to the early starts and it really is preparation for the future! Especially, if like me, you want to work in London but don't currently live there, a commute will initially be your only option.

One of the best things you can take away with you is the experience of meeting some really great people which in turn effectively transfers into networking! My experience here to date has been so fantastic that my original one month contract has now been extended a further two times and now I am here until the middle of August and I am so pleased! You get out of it what you put in, and when searching for your first post-uni job relevant work experience will count for a huge amount.

I hope this has given you some insight into the advantages of work experience. As a final note, for those of you put off at having to work for free - don't feel as if this is your only option. Not only should you value your work experience but the firm you are working for should also value your time and effort, and most companies will at the very least cover your costs.

Good Luck!


By Alice Abura