Why is work experience in economics a good idea?

You have already shown yourself to be analytical, a good communicator and creative. However, employers are also looking for personal skills, presentation skills, IT and communication skills, making work experience crucial.

By undertaking a form of work experience you have, again, shown your self-motivation to employers. As well as this the opportunity you have a chance to

  • apply the theories taught to you to the working world
  • develop and learn new skills, such as IT or presentation skills
  • experience a real working environment
  • see if the field you are working in appeals to you for your future career, and if not, allowing you to discount it
  • experience the application process, from cover letters to interviews, providing an authentic taste of the competitive job market
  • to network with others in the industry

All of these result in a very healthy looking CV, and hopefully, more job prospects.

Why not just get a part-time job?

With work experience, different lengths are possible, from 3-week internships to 12-month placements. This allows the chance to experience 3 or 4 different industries during summer breaks or perhaps the option of a placement year. Say you’ve found yourself work experience with Company X for 6 weeks, but half way through the first week you’ve decided it’s not for you. There is no point in quitting (as you would if it were a job rather then work experience) as working for 5 and a half weeks more isn’t going to be the end of the world. At the end of the 6 weeks, you leave, you have a good reference, you have learnt new skills, your CV is looking plumper and you can say wholeheartedly that you do not wish to go into that specific job area.

In terms of real experience, there are few good part-time jobs which will help with your future career (especially for economics). However, the opportunities that firms offer through work experience and internship programmes are normally based a lot more on building your skills as an individual rather than just the job. There is no problem with work/study balance because work experience will only take place in periods of no study.

There is, in most cases, also a monetary gain. Employers want to snap up good students. Students can’t afford to work for free and still survive. Employers train the students and, if all goes to plan, the student graduates with a job in the firm. If that sounds too good to be true, the National Council for Work Experience undertook a study in which they found 73% of employers have recruited individuals on a permanent basis as a result of work experience.