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Workplace experience will complement your academic studies by providing another way of learning outside the classroom.
Job applicants who can demonstrate that they have developed these skills will have a real advantage." – Digby Jones: Director-General, Confederation of British Industry, Foreward to Shell Step ( is a UK-based programme which offers a range of specific project based work, for example one student on an international business degree course helped a company specializing in child safety devices break into the US market, while another worked on a rebranding exercise for an IT and communications specialist.
As will be clear from the above, there are many learning opportunities inherent in work experience.
Does it make you want to go back and re-read the literature, perhaps exploring other authors?
You may be applying a particular technical skill which you learnt at college: Are your skills at the right standard?
Remember too that through the workplace there will be access to professional associations, and you should try to get to their meetings.
An important lesson is how to network, which will prove invaluable not only in getting your first job but also throughout your career.If the work experience is part of a course, the HEI will probably have negotiated the placement with the employer, and will help you prepare your CV and look for a suitable placement.This can help make the experience a quality one, and ensure that the employment tasks can be structured around specific learning outcomes, which you as the student should be aware of.You will also need to adapt to learning in a situation where the learning objectives are not always made explicit, in contrast to a class or lecture where these are normally articulated.Reflective learning is the conscious process of analysing and learning from what one has done or is doing, and is shown in the ability to: You will also need to examine yourself critically and see yourself as an employer would, using the same critical thinking skills you should have acquired in reading texts.The employer in turn needs to be aware that they are not just employing someone who can answer the phone and do photocopying, but who will undertake particular projects and who is working to specific outcomes.Your tutor should brief you not only on learning outcomes, but also on the particular style of learning that you need to adopt (see below).How does what you are required to do differ from what you learnt? You should not automatically assume that what you do in the workplace is right and what you learnt at college is wrong: workplace practice differs and there may be no one right way; you need to reflect on the differences and what you can learn from other ways of doing things.One particular way in which you can apply your workplace practice to your academic learning is if you have to write a final year project or dissertation.Study opportunities not only in your organization but also through meetings with clients, and professional organizations as mentioned above.Work experience provides an important opportunity to grow personally.