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Work experience is key to bridging the grad employment gap

Natasha Morrison

My work experience helped me stand out of the crowd.

Natasha, Alumni

., .

Computer Science BSc - 2018

From UK

Why did you choose to study at Brunel? 

At school I was taught to do well so that I could go to university, that was the end goal. But, I wasn’t taught how to prepare for what came after university or what job roles were available to me, I was just told to choose a subject to pursue.

I was fortunate enough that my course at university offered a placement year which also counted towards my degree. Without this being an available option with resources, it would have been hard to develop myself both professionally and personally to where I am today. Most universities and courses don’t offer placements, so there are students coming out of education not having learnt anything but theory in their chosen field, which may not be a true reflection of the current industry, I see this with many of my friends. 

How important is work experience? 

Finding what you like to do, is as important as learning what you don’t like to do. The only way to find this out is through doing work experience, gaining an understanding of different job roles and finding a passion that you want to continue striving towards. Whilst at the same time, learning the key soft skills that companies want; learning how to build working relationships, developing leadership skills and understanding how roles fit into companies are just a sample of what I was able to learn. Gone are the days where work experience means taking coffee orders for intimidating senior colleagues, work experience is about development and finding your passion.

It is good to remember what you also can bring to the table; a lot of my work experiences have been me learning but there are also times where I can draw upon my academic studies or personal interests to partake and impress. The people you meet whilst gaining experience are just as important, making sure to leave a good lasting impression will ensure you are remembered if a job opportunity arises. There is also a lot to learn from gaining an understanding on how the people you meet got to where they are, and where they want to go.

What skills did you gain whilst on work placement? 

There is nothing better than being in an interview for a job you really want and being able to excitedly tell them all the projects you’ve worked on, skills you’ve gained and what you would like to develop upon further, and that is how you will stand out of the crowd. I would have not had as much to talk about in interviews for graduate roles, nor much on my CV, if I had not had work experience and that is why I found it easier than most students leaving university to achieve a graduate role in my chosen sector. I also found that the work experiences I’ve had, have helped me to do better academically by being able to understand the practical use of what I’ve been learning and have given me an idea for my dissertation.