There’s a growing debate over whether industry experience is more worthwhile to achieve than a university degree, and we want to hear your thoughts on it. With so many students graduating from top universities with excellent grades, how can you compete for the best careers, if you don’t have the experience to go with it? Many graduate schemes turn away graduates due to their lack of experience, favouring those who have worked in industry for a few years, and are used to the working environments, duties and trends. While it’s incredibly unfair for graduates, there’s an increasing need to put more emphasis on gaining education, and not just relying on academia.
Before making the decision to go to university, find out if it’s genuinely worth it. With escalating fees, if you can go straight into industry without being at a disadvantage, it may be worth it. Some careers, such as journalism, will favour a strong portfolio and knowledge of shorthand and law, skills that can be obtained through courses, rather than three-year degrees. Ask around; speak to employers, employees, recruitment firms and university students and see what their opinion is. It’s always going to be your choice, and if you want a degree as a back-up, then there’s nothing stopping you – but bear in mind that your experience needs to be as strong as your education.
Before you go to university, or while you’re studying, try to find work experience placements in the holidays or on days off. These can ensure you have a great mix of academia and experience, as well as securing your name with a company for when you need a job, or producing references when you start applying. The more experience you have, the more it will work in your favour when you graduate.
If you’re unsure about where your career path is heading, university is the best place to go. You’ll meet people who already know, and can give you ideas, professionals in the industry you’re studying around, as well as a vast majority of students in the same boat as you! Keep an eye on the careers you’re interested in, and begin to build up a network of contacts in case you decide that’s the path you want to go down.
Apprenticeships are a great avenue to take if you’re not sure about leaving education, but don’t want to go onto university. The government is pushing for more companies to open up schemes, so keep your eyes open for announcements in the area you want to work in. Apprenticeships are the best way to learn a trade while finding your feet, and can often lead to new paths to take after they’ve finished.
Every job applicant needs something to make them stand out, something that makes them look more attractive to employers than anyone else being interviewed. When the majority of the population has a degree, this can no longer be your unique selling point – so you need to find one. Whether this is working in industry, and making your way from the bottom to the top, balancing university with an internship, or excelling as much as you can in academia, it’s up to you to make the choice.
Robert Grabiner – Founder of MyTutorWeb