Why We Think Work Experience is Important…

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Opinion, Petersens News, work experience
Tags: , , ,

In the run up to the NCWE Work Placement of the Year Awards 2011, the Petersens team has been discussing why we think it is important for young people to gain work experience.

Rob Petersen, Managing Director:

“Having been in business for a number of decades and also bringing up two children I have seen how very important it is for young people of every generation to get work experience. When I  was growing up I had a number of opportunities to experience work including being a woodman in Tintern Forest,.a wrangler in Wyoming, a chauffeur in Los Angeles, a postie in Bristol, a trainee in a surveyors and a taster graduate in an advertising agency in London. Of these, advertising got the vote and I have been in the Advertising/PR business ever since.!!

For today’s young people the choice is more limited and therefore for the future of our economy, and business in particular, as employers we must follow a policy of taking on young people for  work tasters or placement programmes.

Why you may ask when it takes valuable executive time to guide and counsel them? Simply that you get great pay-back from adopting this policy in terms of  potential recruitment, new ideas, fresh thinking, commitment, genuine appreciation and a satisfaction that in a small way you are passing on your experience to the next generation.

If every business small or large in Wales gave our young people opportunities to experience life with them, Wales would not be seeing our talented young people, not just highly qualified graduates but school leavers as well, leaving our country to be snapped up by employers in other parts of the UK and further afield. Terry Matthews was so right in a recent announcement that we must not let our talented people go. We must give them the opportunity and trust me you will not be disappointed!”

Cerys Palmer, Senior Account Manager:

“Entering the professional world post-degree, people will generally be faced with fierce competition. I have seen many friends and peers who have gained excellent degrees but have no industry experience and therefore struggle to find employment in their chosen sector. 

The degree I chose included a compulsory year out in industry, I was very lucky to land a position with Marks and Spencer Head office in London, which proved to be invaluable. I was given an insight into the ‘real world’ and given a taste of working with professionals, that I could one day work with again.

The principles of my degree taught me a lot, but it was working with real people on live projects that landed me with interviews and a successful career in London and Wales.

My advice to people would be what ever experience you are offered, take it, and squeeze the most of it. If a CV lands on my desk I’ll be looking at achievements and experience and not grades.”

Becci Gould, Account Executive:

“Work experience is something some students may see as time-consuming and unnecessary but from my experience it is absolutely vital not only in securing a job but also in deciding which career path to follow. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after finishing my degree in English Literature and luckily during my free time in my final year I decided to do some hands-on research into what would best suit my skills and personality.

After completing a series of flexible work tasters through the GO Wales scheme, I soon narrowed my career path down from marketing, fundraising and social networking to public relations and communications.

Although I found PR the most suitable field, I learnt a great deal from my other placements and would highly recommend trying a wide range of jobs, if, like me, your degree is somewhat open-ended. Each placement extended my skill-set and increased my extremely limited knowledge of how different businesses operate, from charities and public sector organisations to start-ups and small businesses. I even managed to secure a 6-week paid internship in communications with a global property company in London which was a whole new experience in itself!

I am so grateful to the organisations that gave me the opportunity to take part in work experience programmes including my current employer, Petersens PR. I have now not only been able to begin a career in a field that I believe to be ‘right’ for me but have also been able to identify and embark on the appropriate training to further my knowledge and skills relevant to the PR sector.

 I would recommend any student to take work experience as seriously as I did as it really can be the making point of your future career.”

Petersens has been working with GO Wales (www.go-wales.co.uk ) for over a decade to provide valuable Work Tasters and Placements for students and graduates across Wales and has recently been shortlisted by the National Council For Work Experience Awards for the second year in a row.

The national awards take place on Tuesday 22nd March so watch this space for details…

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