Work experience has long been seen as an essential tool for gaining an advantage when looking for that first job.
The benefits of work experience for individuals are diverse. Alongside the industry-specific experience that individuals can gain, work experience offers an opportunity to develop crucial skills that boost employability, such as time management, leadership and people management skills.
Connor: Give us a brief introduction to who you are.
Sofia: Sure. I’m Sofia Wojciuk, I’m 19, and I’ve just finished my first year studying Economics at The University of Bath.
C: What made you want to look at doing a work experience placement?
S: I thought it was a great opportunity to help me find out what I’m interested in. There’s only so much you can figure out from career talks and networking events – sometimes you just have to do! Also, being perfectly honest, I knew it would be a great thing to have on my CV, demonstrating to employers I have a real interest in developing myself and starting my career.
C: What drew you to working with Connor?
S: I had done a previous placement at Sainsburys Bank in their head office – so Connor couldn’t have been more different in terms of size but also culture to that! I was also drawn to the HR element of what Connor does. I don’t get much exposure to HR in my degree and I know it’s an area I’m interested in, so I was keen for an insider’s perspective into the sector. Finally, I’ve thought for a while that I might be interested in working in some form of consultancy, so Connor was also a great fit in this regard.
C: What did you think work experience would be like?
S: I expected to spend a lot of time sitting in meetings where I didn’t know what was going on! In all honesty, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I was worried I might feel a bit out of my depth and a little bit out of place!
C: What was it like? What did you get up to?
S: I massively enjoyed the two weeks I spent at Connor. I spent time with sales and technical experts in each area of the business, covering things like career transition, organisation design, and people development. I also spent time in central functions such as marketing and finance.
Each day involved a mixture of talking to the people who work at Connor about what they do and how/why they do it, shadowing both internally and externally with clients, and working on my own projects. I proofed and uploaded a blog on the Connor website; I even got to work on a live proposal for some new business, working with the sales team.
C: How do you think your experience at Connor has changed the way you view the world of work?
S: I’ve become much more aware of how much collaboration and teamwork is essential in the world of work. I think in academia it’s easy to forget this and the value of these skills isn’t emphasised enough. My time at Connor has also made me just really excited to get into the world of work, which I will do next year on an industrial placement as part of my degree.
C: What did you think of the Connor team?
S: The Connor team were truly amazing, in terms of their knowledge and capabilities but also in how warm, welcoming and generous with their time they were. I wasn’t just treated as the coffee girl and felt, for the two weeks, really part of the team, trusted and valued.
C: Has your experience with Connor changed what you want to do when you finish education?
I don’t think I’ve necessarily changed what I want to do but my experience at Connor has confirmed to me that consulting is the area I would like to go into. So it’s definitely helped me focus my efforts, which I know will be helpful when the time comes to start my career.
C: What’s the biggest thing you’ll take away from your time at Connor?
S: The importance of networking and relationship building! I was amazed by how important a network can be. So many people at Connor have either worked together or known of each other before coming to the business; also, so much of their business comes from the power of the networks they have. It’s something I’ve realised I need to focus on as I start my career.
C: If you were to offer one piece of advice to someone else looking for work experience, what would it be?
S: Be curious. Search out work experiences that really interest you, and once you’re on work experience, ask as many questions as you can! Work experience gives you such a unique opportunity to really understand a business or industry – so don’t squander it!