Does Work History Matter?
Hosts: Julia Hurtado, Vinay Vimalan, Lucie Morris
Studies show that employers vastly prefer entry-level candidates with work history, which is why securing at least two (preferably more) internships is an incredibly important element of the university graduate’s overall profile. While academic records and an elite degree are impressive, they still can’t replace the crucially important “real world” skills associated with on-the-job experience. In this episode, Julia, Vinay and Lucie share tools and scenarios for finding, securing and reaping maximum benefits from internship opportunities.
The hosts bring to bear their collective wisdom in tackling how to break the chicken-and-egg conundrum that often makes it tough to find employment opportunities from employers who (often unrealistically) expect entry-level candidates to have lengthy CVs. There are ways around this challenge, however, including consideration for jobs outside your specific area of study or ideal industry. Whether it’s working in the service or hospitality sector (read: summer or part-time jobs as a server, bellhop or barista) or in a volunteer capacity with a nonprofit, there are highly coveted skills – like leadership, reliability, communication, professionalism – to be gleaned. Each opportunity serves as work history can ultimately give you a competitive edge over your peers.
If you’re looking for avenues to secure those golden internship opportunities...
The hosts are here to point the way. They explain why employers value work history and why it’s important to take advantage of points of entry like your university career development office or university “Year in the Industry” (or Industrial Placement) programs. They wrap up with a couple of related “Career Dilemma Questions,” including whether (and how) to bring it up directly with a prospective employer if a workplace has negative online reviews or the proposed salary is going to be unsustainable financially.
Enjoy this week’s insights and, in a brief digression for the uninitiated, an enthusiastic introduction to Nando’s restaurant chain. For additional episodes, please visit: TheCareerGrowthPodcast
- 01:59 – Big picture: Why work history and work experience matters.
- 05:20 – Why employers are insisting on so much previous work experience.
- 06:50 – Is it fair for employers to expect multiple internship experiences for entry-level positions?
- 10:04 – Should people who don’t have the internship experience apply for positions nonetheless?
- 11:40 – Why work history at this point in time has become co-equal or even more important to prospective employers than degrees at top-tier universities.
- 13:11 – The difference between “red brick” universities (most elite) and their research orientation versus the newer universities, whose degree programs tend to be more innovative and heavier on practical skills and hands-on experience.
- 16:36 – The importance of translating abstract knowledge to the actual practice of that skill set in the real world. It’s not as easy as virtual DIY!
- 17:49 – Having a bad internship experience doesn’t have to be all bad. It’s a learning opportunity and cautionary tale that will inform future choices and points of consideration.
- 20:31 – Having some sort of experience is better than having no experience, even if the internship or work is in an industry other than your ideal. There are still transferrable skills that translate to future opportunities in your sector of choice.
- 22:05 – How Lucie moved from Human Relations (which she studied at university) to the world of Public Relations and the catering background that enabled the transition.
- 25:45 – Julia explains how her experience as a server in the restaurant industry prepared her in unexpected ways to bridge from her university degree to the world of marketing and content provision.
- 28:20 – There’s no excuse for lacking experience because all-important life lessons can be garnered through volunteer work supporting non-profits or working for free in other charitable pursuits.
- 30:00 – A brief detour to discuss the merits of Nando’s, a favorite restaurant chain.
- 32:51 – What does it mean to have a positive work experience?
- 34:30 – University career services, networking, direct applications and other strategies to get connected with potential internship opportunities.
- 38:44 – This week, two Career Dilemma Questions about whether/how it’s appropriate for candidates to bring up during an interview potentially awkward questions about the prospective workplace’s reputation or salary during job.
“Work experience is really important because it shows you have practical experience – and not just theoretical knowledge.” (Vinay)
“There’s so much pressure on students these days to have a really built up CV before landing their first job.” (Lucie)
“You don’t get taught how to work at university. These are things that you have to learn on the go and a lot of employers like candidates who have already done that.” (Vinay)
“If an employer has unrealistic expectations and they make that clear, you should probably ask yourself why you’re applying because that’s usually a red flag.” (Vinay)
“Employers are happy to take candidates with not a great academic record in lieu of candidates with prior work experience and a ‘good enough’ academic record.” (Vinay)
“You can study and research something and may even feel you know everything you need to know, but there are definitely going to be gaps in your knowledge that can only really be filled with practical experience.” (Julia)
“A bad internship is not the end of the world. Yes, you do miss out on some learning but you also get to learn valuable lessons very early on in your career, which will help you when you’re applying for graduate jobs in the future.” (Vinay)
“Make sure you get your money’s worth in terms of the money you pay towards tuition by getting the maximum possible from the career department.” (Vinay)
“Lots of employers really respect candidates that have undertaken volunteering.” (Lucie)
“If you genuinely are going to struggle financially … then bring it up, let them know the reasons and go to them with a proposal or timeline to what a pay raise might look like.” (Vinay)
About “Year in the Industry” (or Industrial Placement) programs: https://www.placementyear.org/destinations/united-kingdom/
Career Stories on Capital Placement: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17844376361178996/
- Lucie Morris: Originally from Birmingham, Lucie pursued her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Human Resources from the Leeds Becketts University. With experience in advertising, public relations and marketing, Lucie is now the Employer Partnership Associate for London-based International Internship Provider, Capital Placement. Lucie uses her experience working with 500+ companies to provide clients with insight into career growth and what employers are seeking in an ideal candidate for their companies.
- Vinay Vimalan: As Co-founder and CEO of Capital Placement, Vinay offers a decade’s worth of experience and knowledge into career development and recruitment. He has extensive experience with finding and placing students and graduates in internships around the world with companies ranging from startups to multinational corporations. As CEO of Capital Placement, Vinay not only offers insight into what employers are searching for in their own company but also provides actionable tips for those with career aspirations. LinkedIn.
- Julia Hurtado: Originally from Austin, Texas, Julia received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduation, she decided to take a jump across the pond to work as a Business Development and Marketing Intern at Capital Placement in London that eventally became a full-time associate’s position. Julia helps university students and graduates with their career choices and provides advice on professional development.