The Benefits of a Professional Work Experience
Professional work experience is one of the most valuable activities a student can undertake while studying.
From company to company, the structure of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) may differ, the common theme is that they allow the opportunity to take the concepts, theories, and techniques you learn in lectures and put them into practice.
Here is what you need to know about Work Integrated Learning.
What is Work Integrated Learning?
In its most basic form, WIL is hands-on work experience in a particular industry.
For students, WIL provides the opportunity to engage in professional work experience while further developing the skills needed as you move from studying into the workforce.
The Benefits of Working Integrated Learning
There are numerous benefits to completing a WIL placement. Not only do WILs offer the experience to gain additional industry knowledge and insights, but they can also help secure future employment.
Gain Industry Experience
Formal education provides the skills and knowledge needed to enter an industry. Industry placements help you take the skills and knowledge you have gained and further develop them across the IT industry.
Gaining industry experience can help provide a greater understanding of the industry. In addition, as you progress through your placement, it is an opportunity to ask questions and take notes which will help further develop your industry knowledge.
Across the IT industry, there are numerous transferable skills between sectors. However, the skills needed, for example, in Network Administration will be different from those required in cloud computing. For someone who seeks to enter a specific industry, placements can help to refine the skills needed.
Develop Technical & Soft Skills
Technical skills are the industry-specific knowledge and skillset needed in a field. Working on real-life projects in the industry is the greatest way to develop and refine specialised skills. The technical skills you learn throughout your work placement will help you gain employment as you move into the IT industry.
As you work on projects, you will also sharpen your soft skills and learn:
- How organisations deal with issues as they arise and select the appropriate response.
- To effectively manage your time throughout the day while managing multiple tasks.
- To quickly adapt as you move between tasks.
- To communicate effectively and efficiently as part of a team.
Explore the Industry
With the wide variety of careers in the IT industry, an industry placement is an opportunity to explore new career paths. Your placement allows the ability to gain an insight into a career and see if the industry is what you expected.
As a result of your placement, you may decide to explore new options. For example, you may have planned to begin your career in cyber security, but throughout your placement, you engaged with work in artificial intelligence, and you wish to explore this further.
It is important to remember that your placement is as much about exploring an industry as learning the skills needed in the industry.
One of the most significant benefits of undertaking professional work experience as a student is the ability to receive feedback on practical work. Receiving feedback from your supervisor allows you to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
While your feedback may be negative, it is important to accept it in a positive way. The information provided will help to understand the weaknesses in your skillset. In addition, negative feedback can be a stepping stone to understanding the areas you may need to focus on when developing industry-specific skills.
Build Your Resume
A resume that shows your previous work experience can help you get your foot in the door for an interview. As a student beginning your career, your work experience will be lacking. The addition of your WIL placement on your resume can help to show the skills you have developed.
As you add your placement to your resume, include all the completed activities. List all the tasks you completed on your resume, as this will show potential employers the skills you have developed and help match you to the job. It is important to use industry keywords as some organisations use artificial intelligence to scan resumes and select applicants.
Expand Your Professional Network
A professional network is one of the most critical networks you will develop throughout your career. A professional network is a group of people you have connected with at work or business-related events.
The people that make up your network may act as a mentor as you begin your career. They will have skills, knowledge and experience that you can learn from.
As you move further into your career, you may find new career opportunities from those in your network. Platforms such as LinkedIn have become popular places to maintain connections with industry professionals.
Work Integrated Learning at SISTC
Work integrated learning forms a vital part of your final trimester at SISTC. As part of your course, you will complete our ‘Professional Experience’ unit. This unit involves combining the academic content you have completed with practical work experience.
Throughout the unit, you will:
- Develop work-based learning skills
- Build disciplinary knowledge
- Develop business communication skills, interpersonal skills, and teamwork abilities
- Design /Implement previously learned concepts
- Enhance and articulate understanding of business processes
- Improve your employment opportunities after graduation
As a student, completing a work integrated learning placement is one of the most beneficial activities you will undertake. Your placement will help develop and refine the skills and knowledge you will use throughout your career in the IT industry.
To begin your career in IT, SISTC offers a Bachelor of Information Technology with the option of majoring in two fields: Digital Enterprise (DEN) and Business Information Systems (BIS).
To find out more about the courses offered at SISTC, visit our course information page.