How to Gain Work Experience for Students (With Benefits)

Updated February 7, 2023

Work experience can provide students with valuable knowledge and help them enhance their resumes. Through work experience, students can gain a deeper understanding of what it's like to perform a particular job. Understanding how to gain work experience as a student can help you discover your career goals and increase your employment opportunities in the future. In this article, we discuss how to gain work experience for students, explain the benefits of work experience, and review a variety of tips for gaining valuable work experience.

How to gain work experience for students

Work experience for students introduces them to various work environments and prepares them for the demands and expectations of a career. The primary goal of work experience is to acquire knowledge and skills that may be useful to you when you enter the workforce. Here are a few ways you can get work experience as a student:

1. Seek formal work placements

Work placements allow you to work with a company in a specified role under supervision. Work placements last approximately one week, and you spend your time at a location of your choice or provided by your school. This program offers participants a chance to observe a working environment in action and gain a better understanding of how it operates. Formal work placements typically offer little or no compensation.

Related: How to Write a High School Student with No Experience Resume

2. Attend career fairs

Events such as career fairs and conferences are more than just a way to gather information. They're also an excellent way to attract employers' attention. Employers may ask for your name and contact information if you convince them you're a suitable candidate for the job. Job fairs are a chance to meet a wide range of employers. Students may also look for virtual events that allow them to explore workplaces and ask questions about the job and the environment.

Related: How to Write a College Student Resume for an Internship

3. Consider entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are individuals who establish new businesses. Working with an entrepreneur can be beneficial if you have aspirations of starting your own business in the future. Some entrepreneurs have an interest in hiring individuals with entrepreneurial aptitude. Regardless of whether you intend to start your own business, you may consider working with entrepreneurs to enhance your business skills.

Related: 7 Steps for Creating a Resume as a Student

4. Pursue part-time jobs

You can develop your commercial awareness and customer service skills by working part-time. Performing a paper round or babysitting can also help you develop your sense of responsibility and professional resilience. An employer may view your experience working part-time as proof of your ability to arrive on time and adhere to your tasks until completion.


  • FAQ: "What Are Good Jobs for Engineering Students?" 16 Career Options

  • Objective for a Student Resume: Definition, and Examples

5. Apply to internships

There are opportunities for students to take part in full-time internships during summer and winter breaks. Some employers value internship experience because they require students to work full time, which can demonstrate their ability to succeed in a professional setting. The duration of internships typically range from one to two months, which makes them an excellent opportunity for students to acquire practical work experience.

Related: How to Write a Summer Job Cover Letter (With Examples)

6. Do volunteer work

Volunteer-based work experience refers to the experience students can gain through participating in volunteer activities. Working at a soup kitchen, participating in a clothing drive, and providing assistance at homeless shelters are examples of volunteer activities. Volunteering with a non-profit organization is also an excellent way to gain experience. You may also engage in volunteer work at an event such as a college fest, music festival, or book fair. The experience of volunteering also helps you develop soft skills such as empathy, interpersonal skills, and dependability.

Benefits of students gaining work experience

Here are some benefits of work experience for students:

Develops workplace awareness

There's a large difference between the work environment and the school environment. Learning about work processes in different environments provides students with a wide range of knowledge and skills. Compared to a classroom setting, there are many more variables at risk in a professional setting. As an example, making mistakes at work may result in more adverse reactions and consequences for the employee than making a mistake at school.

Builds transferrable skills

Working in a variety of settings contributes to a student's professional development and teaches them a variety of practical skills. A transferrable skill is one that you can use across different organizations or industries. Including transferrable skills on your resume can also enhance your credibility and impress employers.

Related: 36 Interview Questions for Students to Help Them Prepare

Provides opportunities for full-time positions

During your internship, a company may choose to train you and teach you the small business operations that you require when performing your duties as an intern. A prospective employer may also monitor your progress and track it throughout the internship process. Potential employers may invite you to interview if you seem like a promising candidate.

Related: CV Examples for Students (With Formatting and Writing Tips)

Helps assemble networks

Creating valuable connections through networking can prove useful for you after graduation. Building relationships with professionals from the industry you want to work in can help you achieve success in your career. Networking can be an excellent way to gain insight into your preferred industry, its workings, and its functioning. A network of contacts can be a valuable resource for providing career guidance and recommending you for future employment opportunities.

Related: 24 of the Best Part-Time Jobs for University Students

Increases self-confidence, maturity, and independence

The benefits of work experience extend beyond practical considerations and promote the development of personal attributes. The transition from school to the workplace can be a challenging process for students after graduation. Having work experience can help students establish a link between their education and the workplace, which can increase their confidence in the future when seeking employment.

Related: 12 Bulletin Board Ideas to Help Develop Student Skills

Determines your strengths

By gaining experience, you can identify your strengths and areas for improvement. Strengths refer to skills or subjects that you excel at and enjoy. Experiential learning may help you determine the type of work that suits your personality. For example, you may enjoy analytical work, which may involve research, analysis, and problem-solving. In contrast, you may find yourself attracted to people-centred careers such as selling, which can be a very rewarding career option for extroverts.

Related: Writing a Resume with No Experience

Tips to help gain experience for students

The following are tips that can help you gain work experience as a student:

  • Use teachers or professors as resources. Many professors are active in their local and professional communities. A faculty member may be able to provide you with information on internships, co-ops, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Maximize work-study experiences. A work-study program exists in many schools that allows students to work part-time while they attend school to subsidize the cost of their education. As an example of a work-study, a student who's attending university may work at the library for a few hours a week.

  • Find summer employment. During the summer months, there are many opportunities to gain experiences, such as becoming a camp counsellor, an amusement park attendant, or a grill cook.

  • Join a student organization. Managing and leading student organizations is a great opportunity to practise your management and leadership skills.

  • Perform freelance work. Offering freelancing services to organizations that require your skills or talents can increase your income and provide you with valuable experience. The benefits of freelancing include enhancing your professional network and providing you with some great examples of work to add to your portfolio.

  • Consider working as a temp. You can gain both work and organizational culture experience by working with a temporary employment agency. Temping is also a great way to explore career options and develop a network of contacts.


Explore more articles

  • What Should I Go to School For? (With Career Options)
  • What Is Business Value and What Is Its Impact in IT?
  • What Is a Teaching Portfolio? (With Template and FAQs)
  • Wages vs. Salary: Differences, Advantages, and Disadvantages
  • Hiring Marketers (How to Select Competent Team Members)
  • What Is an Accounting Cycle? (Steps and Accounting Skills)
  • How to Create a Business Account on YouTube (With Tips)
  • How to Be Innovative at Work: Benefits, Tips, and Skills
  • Why Is It Important to Dress Professionally? (With Tips)
  • Two Ways to Convert a PowerPoint File to Google Slides
  • What Are Functional Requirements Examples? (With Benefits)
  • What is the Rational Model of Decision-Making? (With Steps)