May 10, 2023, by Leah Sharpe
How to Reflect on Your Work Experience
By Jo Workman, Senior Careers Adviser
So, you have completed some work experience, enjoyed your time with the employer, and learnt a lot, but now what? You might be wondering how to utilise what you have learned about the job, or are wondering how to showcase your experience to a potential employer.
Reflecting on, or thinking back over what you did, is a useful way to identify what you have gained from the experience and take stock of your achievements and the skills you have developed.
How to describe your work experience to employers
Begin by making a list of all the jobs you completed during the experience, and the tasks you were responsible for. Try to name specific skills you developed, for example if you worked on a report, you were using your professional written communication skills. If you helped a customer with an issue, you might have used multiple skills such as verbal communication, interpersonal skills, problem-solving etc. Once you have a clear picture of what you did, and key words to describe it, you can start to incorporate this into your CV.
When presenting your skills to potential employers, it’s important to be specific and provide examples, and your work experience will be a brilliant example to help illustrate your skills in action. Start to think about how you would describe your experience if you were in an interview setting – check out this blog article on using the STAR technique to help you structure your description of the experience.
What might my work experience mean for my career choice?
Taking a job for a ‘test drive’ by doing some work experience can be really helpful to focus in on your likes and dislikes, and help test any assumptions you might have made about what the job involves. Go back to your list of tasks and think about what you enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) about each of them and to what extent you want to work on similar tasks and use similar skills in future.
You may have discovered that the job is a good ‘fit’, and it suits your skillset, values and motivations. In this case, keep in touch with the employer, or connect with them on LinkedIn, to hear about future opportunities. You may wish to look for more work experience opportunities in the same role, but with other organisations, to broaden your experience even further.
On the other hand, it could be that you have decided that the role is no longer one you want to seriously consider for the future. If this is the case, don’t write off the experience, or underestimate how useful it can be for your future job hunting. Taking part in work experience (even if it is something that you won’t do again in the future) demonstrates your eagerness to try something new, and a proactive attitude to learning new skills, many of which will be useful in many other jobs and sectors.
If you’d like to know more about writing your CV or preparing for interviews, see our upcoming workshops on Finding opportunities and applying.
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