Many students have sought to get work experience set up for the summer vacation, and what they want is more than stacking shelves in the supermarket, but something that they hope will be the nugget on their CV that gets them a great first job.

Many summer jobs will be boring, but keep on the look out for learning opportunities: from the way certain managers treat their staff, so you can learn what works and what doesn’t, to understanding the bureaucracy of certain organisations and if that would suit you or not.

Part of summer vacation work is about learning to get on with people in a working environment, to learn to put up with peoples special characteristics, and dealing with the boredom of most jobs. So whatever the job treat it as a means of learning and of an example you can discuss in a future interview – dealing with argumentative customers, willingly undertaking a messy job etc.

How much do you actually learn though?  

Work experience is often is at a quite basic level as most jobs involve some training to do it properly and the permanent staff often lack the time to tell you how to do something properly.

What about work shadowing? 

What you may want to think about is work shadowing. I recommend this as a much better way of understanding what a job is all about, by sitting in on meetings, watching someone work you get a much better understanding of what a job involves.


A few years back one of my clients wanted to become a financial consultant and had already done some temping work in a financial company but had not learnt much beyond data entry and filing.  Once we developed an approach to contact companies to undertake some work shadowing he was able to get to spend 2 days with 2 different people within the same organisation, helping him to understand more about the job he actually wanted to do and being able to use this information to enhance his future applications.

Published On: June 28th, 2007 / Categories: Students and Graduates /

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