The Value of Gaining Experience

I have said it before and I’ll no doubt say it until the day I graduate. I hate university.  Coursework is the devil’s work, the novelty wore off of having independence, and I am so so tired of being a ridiculously poor student. I haven’t had the best of luck with housemates and, well, despite what my grades may say, I have no idea what is going on. From the outside it may look like I have my sh*t together but, in reality, university has not been an enjoyable experience for me, unlike the many people who have told me that it is ‘the best time of their lives’.

The amount of times I have considered dropping out over the past four years is far more than I’d care to tell you. While university has not been the right learning environment for me, I have taken advantage of all the opportunities that have been made available. I use university as a ‘skills workshop’ of sorts, and rather than relying on good grades to secure me a job, which is simply not enough anymore, I made sure that I gained as much experience as possible. All of the paid and unpaid roles have taught me so much more than university itself, as well as given me insights into the things I want as well as the things that I don’t want to do, something that is perhaps more valuable to know.

Over the past four years, I have volunteered as a welcome helper, been president of the university’s food society, organised charity fundraising events, volunteered as an Independent Custody Visitor as well as volunteered for the project ThinkNation. I have also represented the university in various ways, been a student ambassador for a graduate recruitment company, worked at the oldest school in the country as front of house staff, as well as be a sales executive for Hello Fresh. I have taken on mentoring roles, conducted work experience at BBC Good Food Magazine and also organised ‘supper-clubs’ for a local NGO. 

Without meaning to show off, I mention all the above roles because the importance of gaining experience, paid or not,  is something that I cannot stress enough. Not only does it look impressive on your CV, but it allows you to have an insight into a field before actually committing to a career in it. It is always better to find out prior to landing your ‘dream job’ that you hate it, and if you do find something that you dislike, or are no good at, its better to find out sooner rather than later. Nowadays it is essential to be proactive, so start networking with companies, applying for placements or make speculative applications and that will put you in good stead for future you, trust me.

Take control and know that sometimes the experiences you gain are far more important than that piece of paper you get at the end.


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  • Couldn’t agree more! I wish this was drilled into me before I started University (but then again, I never really knew what I wanted to do career wise after my degree. That only happened in the past year!) Regardless, I really hate the misconception that getting a university degree on its own will make you more employable because, these days, it simply isn’t true! At the moment, my sister is in her final year of high school, and it pains me to see how many people probe her about what she is going to do next – stressing the importance of uni, how it is ‘such a big decision to make’,which it is, I guess, but it’s certainly not the be all and end all. I know so many people who have changed degrees, dropped out, deferred etc. More attention should be placed on taking up volunteering opportunities and leadership roles as you have done! I don’t wish to be like the people pressuring my sister by giving unwanted advice, telling her what she should/shouldn’t do…but if I had to do that whole thing again, I think I would’ve taken a gap year to have a long think about what I wanted to do and spent the rest of the time working/gaining experience. It really is valuable to do so as it displays so much initiative, more so, I would argue, than gaining top marks

    xx Carina

    • Thank you for this lovely comment Carina!

      There is such an importance of grades etc, and some people really dont understand the value of having skills, opportunities and experience under your belt. My gap year was the best decision I ever made, and it really set me up for my time at university. I strongly recommend them to any 16/17 year old I meet ha!

      Your sister is very lucky to have you as an older sister, being supportive of her no matter what direction she goes in and not pressuring her. I wish her the best of luck!