Practice what you study: Why work experience is a must

Practice what you study: Why work experience is a must

High school graduates face important decisions after school. What do I want to do with my life? Where should I apply?

Many decide to study a particular subject and leave the choice of university to chance. This is unwise, experts say. Each educational institution has its own individual emphasis in teaching. And that emphasis should really be in line with your goals.

Professional success stories are as diverse as the people who write them. However, experts all agree on the value of early work experience. This is even more important today than a few years ago.

Those who hope for full-time permanent employment straight after graduating with a theory-heavy degree do so in vain. To spare their students internships and traineeships after graduation, some universities integrate practical semesters and compulsory internships. Practice-oriented lectures, soft skills seminars, and independent projects are also often part of their teaching schedule.

This may demand more engagement and independence from students early on,  but it also has advantages for them as graduates. To figure out whether this makes sense for you, consider the following points.

Work experience helps you to find direction.

While some degrees focus specifically on preparations for becoming a professional practitioner (for example in engineering or architecture), others work intensely with a whole field (for example media studies or business). Because of this, many students find it difficult to formulate a career aspiration. With internships or working student jobs, you can find out which professions are really right for you.

You gain qualifications.

This one is an obvious advantage. Those who had the courage to try out their first job early have more qualifications to show for it. You have the opportunity to improve your IT skills, polish your writing style, or improve the presentation of your own ideas. Depending on the field, you develop skills that you later need in your professional life.

You gain new soft skills.

Alongside your school and university grades, other skills are also important to employers. You can only improve important soft skills, such as time management or teamwork, through work experience. This does not have to take place in internships. You can also prepare in school projects and student initiatives.

You become more competitive.

What potential employers value in applicants is the so-called “central theme”. Ideally, this is a constant thread running through your résumé. It should show that your development is coherent and the reasoning behind each individual step is logical. If you already pursued your interests in creating image videos during your Film Studies degree, that shows your ability to follow-through and persevere. And that can pay off in competitive situations.

You make professional contacts.

Those who have already worked on a project during their studies secure one decisive advantage. They make their first contacts in the field earlier than everyone else. These can be the students from your initiatives and colleagues from internships and part-time jobs. They give you valuable insights into the field which you may wish to work in later. With a little luck, one or two professional opportunities will result from your work experiences beyond your studies.

At BiTS and BTK, early work experience has been integrated into the concept for years. Students begin working on their own projects with professional equipment during their studies. They also gain their first work experiences in program-integrated internships.

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