By Francis Harden
Why is work experience important?
Work experience is more valuable than you think. It is seen by universities as a useful indication as to the type of student they will be getting. After all work experience shows proactivity on the part of the student, since they have bothered to get a placement and taken the time to think about their future. Additionally, it shows universities that the student has an interest in the subject area. This is why it looks amazing on a personal statement. Work experience is also heavily valued by employers as well. In a survey carried out by UCAS, it showed that two-thirds of employers look for graduates with work experience. This is partly because a third of employers feel that applicants don’t have enough knowledge about the job to which they are applying.
However, work experience shouldn’t be solely viewed as a means to get to university or to get a job. It should provide an insight for students to see what adult working life is like. Showing them a range of new and unique skills, different types of working environments, but also the kind of mindset needed to become successful in adult life. Ultimately, it is called work experience.
What is work experience like at the Biochemical Society?
What I particularly enjoyed about completing a work experience placement at the Biochemical society is how varied each day of my placement was. Each day, we looked at a different aspect of the company. To give an example, on the first morning, I shadowed Lorenza Gianella, who is the Training Manager at the Society. This involved attending a meeting talking about a MOOC (an online course) and witnessing the sort of day she would normally have. This showed very clearly what a working day entailed.
The next day, I spent the morning with the Marketing and Communications team. With them, I learnt about social media from the perspective of a company where the timing of and content of posts is very important. I was introduced to the software Hootsuite which is used to schedule posts in advance and can analyse the analytics of each post as well.
Afterwards, the Digital Content Editor explained the Society’s website platform WordPress. This platform makes creating websites quite easy since no coding is needed. It is quite similar to writing in a word document. It was so easy that by lunch, I had enough knowledge to be able to build a website from scratch! This is a skill which is extremely valuable that I hadn’t learnt at school.
In the afternoons, I was given tasks to complete independently. This meant that I was given time to work by myself like any other person in the office. They don’t expect you to listen intently for all of your working hours! One of these tasks was to write this blog for example. Over the course of the week, I became much more aware of all the little, yet key components of the society that were needed in order to function. This is the kind of knowledge where if I didn’t have it at an interview, I could appear as ignorant.
This is why in my opinion my work experience was so good, since I wasn’t just shadowing one person the entire week. I got to see all the different aspects of the society that are needed for it to function efficiently. As this sounds, there isn’t too much biochemistry involved which is why I believe this placement would beneficial to any 16-18-year-old.
Don’t be scared! No matter where you do your experience, people will want you there. There will have been a reason why the organization is happy for you to do work experience with them. That is because they will be looking forward to having you. Remember, they don’t want a bad week either!
About the Author
I am a pupil in Lower Sixth (Year 12) at St Albans School who completed a work experience placement at the Biochemical society in October 2019. I am currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths at A-Level.