Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2 What are the benefits of work experience?

Photo of a toes being dipped into the sea.
Figure 2 Dipping your toe into work experience

You may have noticed that some of the options identified in the previous section could involve taking on work in addition to existing commitments, such as a project on top of your ‘day job’. Others involve working without pay. You might be unsure about the benefits of doing this. If so you are not alone. Only you can decide whether you have the energy and motivation to invest in gaining work experience which may put you under pressure in other aspects of your life. However, the short video in this next activity may help you to see the benefits of doing work experience.

Activity 2 Why is work experience useful?

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Watch the following video in which two Open University students explain the value of work experience. Make notes below on what arguments they put forward for gaining work experience.

Download this video clip.Video player: value_of_work_experience.mp4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


  • It is the best way of understanding a particular career path
  • It allows you to see many different routes within a career path
  • It might challenge some of your ideas about a career path – for example, that engineering is always dirty work
  • Employers would consider you more favourably if you had gone to the trouble of getting work experience
  • It is important for you to find out more about what the work entails before you take a paid job.


Most employers look favourably on applicants who have work experience that enhances their application. It might, therefore, help you to get the work you want to do but that is not the only reason to do it. It may also benefit your personally.

  • You can show that you have developed a range of transferable skills
  • When these skills match what an employer is looking for, they make you a more attractive proposition
  • The fact that you have sought out work which gives you insight into the career you want to pursue, helps persuade employers that you are committed and understand what the job requires
  • It makes a positive impression, shows that you can initiate and follow through on things independently
  • You will develop a number of useful contacts.

So, work experience is both pleasing to a prospective employer, as well as helping you to achieve your goals, whether that is in your current employment or a new direction. It can also test out whether some of the ideas on your ‘what next’ list are really would be as enjoyable as you imagine.

Whatever your reason for wanting to gain new work experiences, the obvious next question to ask yourself is ‘where might I find them?’

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371