What can my future professional experience bring me?
Internships and work experiences are key elements in a student’s academic journey. These experiences provide a unique opportunity to apply classroom knowledge and discover new skills and abilities. Let’s look at the four key opportunities a student should take advantage of in a work experience to maximize their potential and increase their chances of future career success.
1. Acquisition and development of professional and interpersonal skills
By working with experienced professionals:
When working alongside experienced professionals, students learn key interpersonal skills that are essential for success in the professional world. Communication is one of the most important skills students develop when working with experienced professionals. They learn to communicate effectively with their team members, present ideas, and give constructive feedback. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is essential for any business to help minimize misunderstandings and mistakes.
“A study conducted by Stanford University found that students who participated in professional internships developed leadership, communication, and collaboration skills faster than students who did not participate in internships (Stanford, 2019).”
They also learn how to collaborate effectively with others. By working in teams, they discover how to leverage each other’s skills and knowledge to achieve a common goal. Collaboration builds team cohesion, fosters innovation, and maximizes results. Students develop problem-solving skills by working alongside experienced professionals. They learn to identify problems, develop strategies to solve them, and make informed decisions. Problem solving is essential for any business in optimizing performance and minimizing costs.
“A survey conducted by recruiting firm Randstad found that 81% of employers prefer to hire graduates with relevant work experience, such as an internship or part-time work experience (Randstad, 2019).”
By working on group project:
Working in groups, students develop important interpersonal skills such as communication, collaboration and compromise. They learn to communicate effectively with their team members, present ideas, and solve problems together.
Working on group projects is an important experience for students because it helps them learn how to work effectively with others. By working with team members, they learn to listen to each other’s ideas, accept constructive feedback, and collaborate to achieve a common goal.
Communication is essential to the success of a group project. Students learn to interact clearly and effectively with their team members, express their ideas and concerns, and give meaningful feedback. Effective communication minimizes misunderstandings and mistakes that can occur in a group project.
“A survey conducted by recruiting firm Robert Walters found that 82% of employers view the ability to work in teams as a critical skill for new graduates (Robert Walters, 2019).”
Collaboration is another important skill that students develop while working on group projects. They learn to leverage each other’s skills and knowledge to achieve a common goal.
It also builds team cohesion, fosters innovation, and maximizes results. Also, students learn to compromise when working on group projects. They must be willing to listen to others’ ideas, accept disagreements, and work together to find solutions that work for the whole group.
This skill is especially important in the professional world, where it is often necessary to find solutions that work for all stakeholders involved in a project.
2. Acquisition of practical experience
Gaining work experience is essential for students. It allows them to apply the theoretical knowledge they have learned in class to real-life situations. This practical experience is gained through internships, group projects, practicums and working on personal projects.
During a practical experience students experience techniques and practices specific to their field of study, which allows them to understand how the concepts they have learned in class are applied in real life situations. Gaining hands-on experience helps students develop skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking, skills that contribute to their success in their future careers.
“According to a study by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), 91% of employers said they prefer to hire candidates with practical experience, even if their degree level was lower than other candidates.”
Completing a hands-on experience allows students to apply the theoretical knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom, develop useful skills for their future careers, and discover new interests and passions. It allows them to discover what is best for them by exploring different careers and fields. They discover new interests and passions that influence their career choices.
3. Career exploration
Career exploration introduces students to the career options available in their field of study, has them explore different career opportunities and gain a better understanding of the skills and experiences required for these different jobs.
There are 5 ways for students to explore their careers:
- by meeting professionals
- by participating in conferences
- by participating in networking events
- by searching for jobs online
using career exploration tools such as aptitude tests, personality questionnaires and career counselling.
Career exploration enables students to make informed decisions about their professional future. It helps them avoid choosing a career that is not a good fit for them or their skills and interests. It gives them a leg up on other candidates when looking for a job after graduation because they will have a better understanding of the skills and experiences needed for the jobs they want.
Ultimately, career exploration is an ongoing and evolving process for students. It allows them to make informed decisions about their career futures and ensure that they are well prepared to succeed in the world of work.
“A 2020 study by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) found that students’ top career concern was finding a job in their field of study.”
4. The opportunity to develop a professional network
Developing a professional network during work experience is very important for students and helps them find internship opportunities, part-time jobs, or even full-time employment after graduation.
3 student tips for growing your network during a pro experience:
- Interact with colleagues: Students should interact with their co-workers, as this will allow them to build professional relationships and learn about the different professional profiles in their industry. Talking with them promotes integration within the team and making contacts that will be beneficial for the future.
- Participate in professional events: Students should participate in professional events organized by their company. Meetings, trainings, conferences and trade shows are an opportunity to meet professionals in the same industry, learn about the latest trends and developments in their field and build relationships to develop a professional network.
- Use professional networks: By using pro networks, students connect with colleagues and people in their field. Joining discussion groups to learn more about their industry and build relationships is also an ideal way to use professional networks.
“According to a University of California study, people with an extensive network of professional contacts are 6.6 times more likely to get a job than those without.”
In short, what to remember ?
Internships and work experiences are essential elements in a student’s academic career. They provide a unique opportunity to apply classroom knowledge and discover new skills and abilities.
Working alongside experienced professionals or on group projects, students develop interpersonal skills such as communication, collaboration and problem solving. They learn how to work effectively in teams and make compromises, which is crucial to success in the professional world.
Employers view internships and work experiences as major assets when hiring new graduates because they allow them to develop practical skills that cannot be learned in the classroom.
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