Work Experience vs Paid Work

For many students the battle between paid work and work experience is an ongoing dilemma, writes Katie Griffith. The decision whether to try and make your CV stand out from the crowd or earn enough money to pay your rent and have that hoilday you’ve been looking forward to all year is a real issue, when work experience is so essential to gain employment, but without money you can’t support yourself.

When it comes to applying for jobs the interview is key; it’s your very own shop window to market yourself, make a good impression and successfully gain employment. Work experience therefore plays a big part in securing a job and allows you to demonstrate to a potential employer how you can transfer skills gained from past employment to their business.

Having work experience on your CV not only proves that you are dedicated to the industry in which you are seeking employment but also that you are willing to go the extra mile, which often means working around studies or during holidays for free and with no travel expenses reimbursed. Yet work experience is an invaluable part of anyone’s CV and is highly regarded by employers.

In the current job climate experience is more important than ever, but with some companies barely keeping their head above water, taking on an extra body can be seen as more hassle than it’s worth.

I’ve just completed a week’s work experience at Sooting Star PR. I have really enjoyed working here as it has given me my first insight into the PR industry – all my previous experience revolved around my degree in journalism. Kate and Jez have both taken the leap from journalism to PR and set up their own company which I find really inspiring and also interesting to see how transferable journalism and PR skills are.

Work experience has always been a high priority of mine since I completed my first placement aged 15 at IPC Media’s Now Magazine in London. I loved the whole experience, from commuting every day from Rugby and working on the magazine’s pages and website to taking photos of fashionable people in the street for their street chic feature.

I also gained experience at my local paper and through my Sixth Form Press Officer post, which was priceless experience as I’ve been able to take so much from both experiences and the success of them led me towards my degree in journalism.

I beileve students need to strike a balance between paid work and experience as of course you can’t have one without the other. For me the importance of saving and budgeting is essential to work out what I can afford in terms of living cost, where I can afford to travel and how much time off paid work I can afford to gain work experience.

For practical reasons paid work outweighs work experience for me this summer but I have only be able to finance work experience thanks to the savings I’ve accumulated from working part time throughout my studies and budgeting along the way. Many students cannot afford this luxury as it is essential they work throughout the year to finance uni fees and living costs.

My advice to anyone thinking about applying for a degree or currently studying but weighing up their options for employment is to get as much experience related to your career choice as possible. If you’re not sure what industry you want to go into, get experience in a few fields which interest you and try before you buy. With careful planning, saving and budgeting you can achieve paid employment, work experience and even afford that holiday you’ve been looking forward to!

Katie Griffith studies Journalism at the University of Lincoln.