Just 21.1% of UK students do not have work experience on their CV when they graduate from university. I mock the word ‘just’ in this sentence. The fact that over one fifth of students did not have any work experience by at least the age of 20 seems utterly ridiculous to me.
The figures for Loughborough students are slightly better, with Graduate-job.com’s study stating that 85.42% of Loughborough students graduating in 2013 have work experience listed on their CV. Yet, I can’t help thinking this figure should be higher still.
For years, it has been drilled into me how important work experience is. The incessant drone of how crucial it is to my future career has, remarkably, been listened to! So why is it that, for some people, this advice has been completely disregarded?
I understand that some students may be lucky enough to not need to enter the world of paid employment. There are those who can sail through university and out the other side without having a part-time job to help fund their studies. In this case, though, I’d still expect said student to be attempting to get out there into the world of work and find out what it’s really like to be immersed in a different environment.
I also appreciate how immensely difficult it may be to gain work experience. Whether the roles pay a healthy stipend, or they are unpaid, the competition can be just as fierce either way. There will be people that have applied year after year for a range of work opportunities, but will not get that far in the application process. But if, after three years of university, you graduate with nothing in your ‘Employment’ or ‘Experience’ section of your CV, something is seriously wrong.
Naturally, there will be people at university who are satisfied with just getting by. They are wealthy enough to survive, intelligent enough to get a 2:1, and confident that because they have a degree, there must be some employer out there willing to take them on after three years of consistent boozing.
There are others who might wish to concentrate solely on their studies for the three years they are at university for, but with so many graduates and so few jobs available, it is no longer a viable option. As Tom Allright discussed at the beginning of the year, there needs to be a balance found because it is no longer possible to rest on the laurels of having a degree as an assurance that you will get a job.
One in five of the students that will read this article has no work experience or employment history to date. If this is you, I urge you to start now. You never know, you might even enjoy it.