How Does Work Experience Benefit University Students?

In this increasingly competitive world, it is becoming harder to stand out in the job market and this is where work experience comes in. Having work experience when applying for jobs can be a great way to stand out. Moreover, it represents a fantastic learning and development opportunity. So, it’s important to consider: How Does Work Experience Benefit University Students?

4 Benefits of University Work Experience

Taste of A Future Career

One of the many reasons why I picked to do a placement year (year of work experience) was because I wanted to explore what it was like to work in psychology. Therefore, I’m working with a great team in September 2021 to conduct some research.

This will allow me to see if I enjoy it and if I can see myself working in research for the rest of my life.

Personally, I would prefer to find out what I don’t like about working in psychology now, compared to finding out after I’ve found a permanent job.

Overall, this is one reason why work experience is great to do because it allows you to see what you want to do in the future. Because you might find out you thought you loved Clinical practice, but after your work experience you realise you hate it.

Learn Beyond The Classroom

As great as lectures and textbooks are, they can only teach you so much. The rest of the skills you need you have to learn in the real world, and you can’t do that without experiencing the real world.

Therefore, work experience is great for allowing you to develop skills you learn about in the classroom, but you don’t get to apply.

Another point to add is in textbooks, they can describe a particular skill but it isn’t until you have to use it in the real world that you realise how the skill actually works.

For example, in clinical psychology, we’re told a lot about active listening and it sounds easy enough. But in the real world it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Meaning experience can help you familiarise yourself with how your degree works in the real world. Sometimes this can surprise you because the theory says one thing, your experience says another. But isn’t that the fun of learning?

On the whole, getting work experience is great because it allows you to develop the skills you learn about in the classroom and turn the theory into practical knowledge.

Being Paid is a Good Feeling

Whilst this doesn’t apply to all work experience because when I was applying to my placement there weren’t many paid placements and generally work experience is unpaid. But I don’t mind that necessarily because my thinking is if I get the experience now then this makes me more employable in the future. Meaning I’ll hopefully make more money in the long term.

Of course, your circumstances might be different and I’m fairly sure if you hunted high and low you might be able to find some paid work experience.

However, if you do get paid work experience, this can be a great feeling as it allows you to work in the field you love, get the other benefits we’ve discussed, and you get to make some money too. Which is always good!

Increased Employability

Our final point we’ve preluded to throughout this blog post but I want to say it explicitly- work experience can equip you with skills and experiences that lots of people don’t have.

For example, my placement year in research will help me develop my skills in researching a real-world setting. Other students in my year they’ll have research experience from their degree but not necessarily in a real-life setting.

If you studied medicine and you got work experience at a Doctor’s Surgery, you would have real-world experience and skills that I don’t think many other students would have.

Overall, work experience can be great for increasing your employability because you will have some great skills and experiences that you can draw on in your future work.


Whether you’re actively looking for work experience or you’re just interested in the idea, I hope you’ve found this useful. Work experience can have some great benefits from skill development to learning new things to increasing your employability. I hoped you learnt something.

Finally, the Active-Class blog is a place to gain insights into the experiences of actual university students. We hope to share these experiences to help you in your continuous development by sharing content on a range of topics, from recovering from a bad grade to dietary life choices – all things that students might be concerned about.

Have a great day!

Connor Whiteley
Connor Whiteley

Psychology Student and Podcaster