Work is an inescapable pathway that everyone has to go through eventually in life. The most common time when students first access any form of work is after graduation from high school when they look for summer jobs or part time.
Of course, starting out at any job will most definitely not be easy, not until you are more experienced. At first, it may be a common scenario to get some harsh words from your boss, but the tasks will eventually get easier as you become more mature and adept with the tasks at hand. The more experience you have, the easier it will be for you to perform the required role.
The same principles would apply for pursuing a career, as you gather more work experience, you will be more familiar with your task and the seemingly steep road becomes slightly less challenging.
This is where college comes in. College is there for you to help you embrace yourselves of the cruel reality of the working world. With a degree at hand, you use the knowledge and skills that you have learned during your college years to hopefully get a job related to your course area when you graduate. However, the things you do in college is not quite the same as working reality, which is why work experience in college is pivotal.
Unfortunately, not all courses provide internship or work experience elements in their lengthy three to four year programmes. For example, my course that I am pursuing now does not offer an opportunity to do work experience or internships during the period of four years of the course. Students have to find internships by themselves, which are relatively not easy to find, and sadly most of them are on unpaid terms to make matters worse.
Without chances for work opportunity in the programme, students continue to do assigned projects in the classroom and finish assignments as usual. Besides that, colleges do offer Erasmus programmes for students to go out into another European country for one semester abroad. Erasmus may be an eye-opening experience but some would argue that having work experience opportunities in college would be better.
Some elements in college can be quite abstract, and depend on a lot of theory. Students may find it hard to see how it fits into real life at the workplace. I feel that colleges should provide more hands-on experience for students at the least.
Back in my home country in Malaysia, generally all courses do provide internships during the last one or two years of the course. At least students feel more mentally prepared when they graduate from college. Work experience such as internships gives students a general understanding of what it feels like to be actually working for an organization or a company in a specific area. Working for a company on an internship forces you to get used to the daily routine of going to a company and producing results on a consistent basis. You won’t be going out in the world blind when you graduate when you have acquired some form of work experience during your college years at least.
Moreover, work experience will give you an edge to those who do not have it. Internships also provide an opportunity for you to fill up your CV with something worthwhile. You may also ask for a reference letter from your boss at the respective company as an added benefit.
College is one of the most important years in life. It is the best time to broaden your horizons and absorb as much knowledge as you possibly can. It is the time for students to look deeper into themselves and to find what they really what to pursue in life. Work experience will definitely play a significant role in guiding students to what they want to do for the future.
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