Are Internships a Step in the Right Direction?

You need work experience to get a job, but you need a job to get some experience; a classic conundrum for any young graduate. Internships are generally seen as an effective first step to enter the world of work, but do they really improve your chances of getting a good job?

It seems so. According to a recent study from High Fliers Research, graduates who undertook internships or had previous work experience are much more successful when job hunting after university. In fact, they are three times more likely to land a good job. The research shows that 36 per cent of students completing a work experience placement had received at least one definite job offer by Easter of their final year, compared to a mere 11 per cent of applicants who did not undertake any careers-related work experience whilst at university.

Furthermore, over half of the surveyed employers said they would be unlikely to offer a job to a graduate with no previous working experience. The study warns that new graduates who did not get any work experience during their time at university have little hope of getting a well-paid job with a leading employer.

“Work experience is no longer an optional extra for university students, it’s an essential part of preparing for the graduate job market,” said Martin Birchall, Managing Director of High Fliers Research. “Students who just focus on their degree studies without spending time in the workplace are unlikely to develop the skills and interests that graduate employers are looking for.”

The results are based on face-to-face interviews with more than 18,000 final year students from 30 leading universities across the UK; a fifth of the total number of undergraduates in the year group.

The research also found that marketing is the most popular sector for first jobs and more students than ever plan to work in London. However, fewer students are taking time off after studies to take a gap year. Just 11 per cent of students said they would take a break after graduating, which is the lowest proportion on record.

The report also listed the type of job functions that employers are hoping to recruit graduates into in 2013 and found that the most frequent requirement is for finance and IT vacancies. More than half of employers offer roles in these areas, irrespective of their organisation’s main purpose. Doing an internship can help to find out which area is right for you, especially in big sectors such as finance and IT. There are, for instance, numerous web design jobs in many industry sectors, but one sector might appeal to you more than another.

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