2.3 Development opportunities whilst in employment
Much of the information available about work experience and internships is aimed at school, college and university students. However, if you are already in work there are still ways to access new experiences, either in your current job role, via a secondment or through extra-curricular activities.
If you have already worked full-time or are currently working, don’t forget that this is also work experience! Even if you are in a situation that you want to change, your current role will be giving you useful opportunities to build and develop your skills.
Try to see what you are doing from a future employer’s perspective. Make a note of good examples of valuable skills such as communication or flexibility. You could also be alert to opportunities to develop yourself further, such as training, new projects to get involved with and mentoring.
Depending on your career ambitions, a secondment is one way to experience a new or different environment without leaving your current employment. For example, as long as there are benefits for everyone involved, your employer might agree to you working for a designated period in another department or even within a client organisation. This can be a strong career development tool.
A Randstad recruitment agency blogpost (2019) outlines some of the benefits to the individual of a secondment. They include:
- gaining new skills and experiences
- the chance to apply your skills in a different environment
- enhanced career motivation
- broadening your network of contacts.
Watch this short video where staff from publishing company RELX explain the benefits of their own secondment experiences.
Similar to volunteering, people often forget about their extra-curricular activities when considering work experience. For example, if you have been involved with a sports club and have taken an active role in organising events or overseeing the finances, you will have developed skills in a work-place context that are very relevant to the needs of employers.
Roles such as school governor or charity trustee will also allow you to develop some key skills.
Within your home life there will be examples of relevant skill development. For example, if you are juggling your studies with the needs of a young family, your time management and multi-tasking skills are likely to be well developed.
Now you have a better idea of the range of work experience opportunities that are valued by employers, in the next section you’ll pause to review your own experiences so far and consider what you have gained from them.