There is a lot to go into your university application. You’ve got your academic performance, your grades over the years. You’ve got your extracurricular activities, those things that add character to your image and prove that you have other interests. And you have your particular interests, reading, and passions.
But there is another thing that can be super helpful when applying to university. This isn’t an academic concern, nor is it at all relevant to your school life. Nor will it get you any UCAS points or some sort of certificate at the end. It won’t actually give you any concrete qualification beyond the simple fact of the experience itself.
Obviously, this thing is getting a job. This can, in many ways, be any job at all – because it is not so much what you do as the fact that you simply do it.
Now, we know that getting a job is tricky. You have to get looking for a job, then applying for jobs, attending a job interview, and so on. At the end of it, you then actually have to do the job too! Whilst you might feel at sixth form that you have enough on your plate already, understand that all of this is actually worth the pain. Honestly.
Here, we’re going to tell you why. Why admissions like to see that you have work experience. And why having a job early on can be worth your while in the long run.
Let’s take a look! You can find more ways to boost your university application here!
Why Uni Admissions Want to See Work Experience on Your Application
Firstly, then, let’s explore why universities want to see that you have had a job. Whether it is an internship or a part-time café job, a simple work placement or a full-blown side hustle or precocious career, academic institutions can learn a lot from the fact that you have an employment history.
Because remember that universities are not just places where you learn. These institutions have a duty of care for you over three years. They need to be able to trust that you can handle life away from Mum and Dad too.
Employment Experience Makes You Stand Out
Having a job experience, regardless of the specific job title, makes you an individual amongst a crowd of hundreds – potentially thousands – of applicants. Really, not many schoolkids have employment experience to their name by the time they are applying to university. Being one of the few that do is a real advantage.
Universities associate a work experience placement or an actual job with the skills outlined below. You are just making yourself look better on the application.
Professional Experience Gives You Transferable Skills that are Helpful Everywhere
The skills that are gained in work aren’t exclusive to the world of work. They are not just useful there. Rather, everyone values the skills that work can provide – from personal independence to being able to communicate in an effective and mature way.
Before university, there are few places to acquire these new skills. Work experience gives you these soft skills in bucketloads, and they will be helpful for the rest of your life – not least during university.
It Shows that You Do Things Outside of School
Extracurricular activities are great. However, they don’t need to come with qualifications or certificates for them to be useful for university applications. It can be helpful for you to show that you merely do something productive that is outside of the curriculum.
Whether that’s volunteer work down the local allotment or working in a local bar, universities like to see that you have interests and a life outside of the classroom.
It Demonstrates that You Don’t Mind a Challenge
Work – as well as applying for a job and getting a job – is hard. Having a job shows the world that you can handle a challenge – particularly when you are combining your paid work role with your schoolwork too.
Many kids take the path of least resistance throughout their academic career. Getting yourself a job shows that this isn’t you. You should be proud of that.
Relevant Experience, Of Course, is Best
Of course, it is best if your work experience is relevant to the degree to which you are applying. If you are applying for music, it would be great if you could have been a music teacher. Or, if you are applying for medicine, some care work would be best. This shows that you are dedicated to the particular path down which you are traveling.
However, it is not strictly necessary. Find out about relevant work experience here!
Your Work History Shows that Others Trust You too
University admissions are considering whether to take you on. It helps them to see whether you have been shown that trust by other people – recruiters or a hiring manager – before them.
If you have lots of work experience or volunteer experience, you are showing universities that you are someone that they can invest in. Why should they trust someone with no experience to be what they claim?
Find out how extracurricular activities can help your application too!
Skills You Can Learn from Professional Experience
Universities will love to see that you have some sort of professional experience – no matter how limited you think that experience might be. This is because job opportunities are learning opportunities – and they will supply you with the relevant skills that are necessary to excel at university too.
Which skills are these? Take a look – and see what good perfecting that resume and cover letter will do for you.
Time management is one of the most important employability skills there are. However, it is not just important for job applications, or impressing during your internships.
Rather, time management is a skill that is crucial during university. Remember that you will have important deadlines throughout your time at university – and being able to reach them is something that universities would obviously appreciate.
For most jobs, you need to be able to communicate effectively – where effectively means maturely, politely, and professionally, but with confidence. For an interview at university, or at any moment in which you will have to discuss different ideas with your supervisor, say, you’ll need these communication skills.
Work experience opportunities hone this ability – and to gain experience in this field is always valuable.
How to Juggle Tasks and Priorities
Being grown up means being able to manage lots of different priorities, obligations and responsibilities. Can you handle an urgent email whilst you are in the middle of an essay? Can you concentrate in a lecture when you know that you have something else to do?
Managing different tasks, like managing your time, is crucial for your adult life and university experience.
Check out how school activities and competitions can help too!
Independence and Maturity
Do you need to be spoon-fed all of the information that you need, or can you seek it out for yourself? Is it necessary that someone holds your hand throughout a process, or can you work things out on your own?
Are you independent, or are you very much reliant on other people all the time?
If it wasn’t obvious, universities want you to be self-sufficient. That’s part of what academic research is about.
When you reach a point in your work that is proving difficult, you have two options. Firstly, there’s the schoolboy response: stick up your hand and shout ‘Miss, I’m stuck!’. Alternatively, you can work on through it or find different ways to approach it by yourself.
Problem solving is a crucial skill for people to learn – and the workplace is a great place to learn it.
The same applies to mistakes made. You can cry and panic or else deal with it, find a way to rectify it, and move on. This is a very important sign of maturity.
Universities want to see that you can learn from your mistakes. In a job, you will be forced to do exactly that.
During school, that is the only world we know. Everything else can be exciting, yes, but it can also be a little terrifying. Getting yourself a job can reveal to you that things don’t need to be so scary. You can talk to adults, you can handle problems when they arrive, you are a bit more financially independent.
Self-confidence can often be the difference between successful university applications and unsuccessful ones. No benefit comes from being too shy! Just don't be too cocky either!
You can find out how to write the best personal statement too!