The importance of internships, industrial placements and work experience has been highlighted in recent years with the dramatic surge in competition for top graduate positions. Amid this dramatic surge, it has been shown that students taking internships are three times more likely to win good jobs. Research shows that some 36 per cent of students completing a work experience placement had received at least one definite job offer by the Easter of their final year. On the other hand, only 11 per cent of other undergraduates, those who had not completed an internship, had been offered a definite job.
Experts have warned that work experience had increasingly become an essential element of preparing for the employment market and was “no longer an option extra” for universities. This warning came as figures showed that the number of job applications made by finalists had soared by 75 per cent in the last five years. According to a major survey, by the end of 2013, students had applied for 427,000 jobs, compared with just 244,000 in 2008. This rise was due to both an overall increase in the university population and a rise in the number of applications made by each student, combined with a drop in the number of people going travelling after graduation.
Top British companies have revealed that four-in-ten positions being advertised for graduates in 2014 were reserved for those with previous experience – barring other final year students from applying. These numbers rose as high as three-quarters of jobs at City investment banks and around 50 per cent of posts at top law firms, which traditionally pay the highest graduate starting salaries.