Getting Your Hands Dirty Can Be a Wonderful Thing.
Classroom learning has its benefits, but we all know that work based learning (getting our hands dirty, figuratively speaking. Or not…) is often the best way to get a learning experience to stick.
Of course these types of experiences are advantageous for building a person’s technical and work-based skills, but work based learning can also dramatically help people to build their professional and social skills.
Ask any employer and you’ll discover that one of the greatest challenges they face when it comes to recruiting is weak professional, communication, and social skills on the part of applicants. There are lots of people who want the jobs, and many of them likely have the technical skills, but guess what…. that’s not going to cut it for a lot of employers. So let’s face it, you DON’T want to be considered weak so you need to get some social and professional skills under your belt.
How? By getting life experiences that will help you to build the skills and the network that will make you the best applicant for the jobs and opportunities that you want.
Yeah, yeah... So what is work based learning?
Just what it sounds like. Learning while you’re working or doing something rather than just sitting in a classroom listening to the teacher, memorizing information, writing things down, and everything else that goes along with what we think of when we hear the world of school or learning.
Work based learning is all about projects, in and out of school:
- It could be working with a group of other students to organize and run a fund raising campaign for something you care about.
- It could be what you do at a workplace, an internship, or somewhere that you volunteer.
- It could be any experience where you have a goal or mission and you’re dedicated to get it done and work toward it’s success.
Work based learning doesn’t have to be a big project or job, it could be something as simple as:
- Working on a construction site over the summer.
- Building a website for a non-profit.
- Planning events for your school.
- Or even just having a part-time job.
How does work based learning make me a more valuable job applicant & employee?
Whether you believe it or not, you and your future employers, benefit from you having work based learning experiences and relationships. How? In more ways than I can list here, but this is a start…
- Encourages self-assessment and career assessment. Try out jobs and industries before you lock yourself in or commit.
- That way you won’t quit after wasting your time learning the ropes, and you won’t leave an employer just when they’ve finished invested in training you
- Development of positive work habits. Timeliness, accountability and etiquette to name a few.
- Strengthens professional and soft skills that employers want and need.
- Enthusiasm and Attitude
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- Identification of abilities and strengths outside of the classroom that you may not have realized are valuable in the world of work.
- Growth of your professional networks; which is often the key to nailing a much desired job or opportunity. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That’s the case when it comes to most job openings so you need to get to know people; even a little bit.
- Educated about workplace and industry specific “lingo or language”. Discovering what the lingo is so you’re more confident and you become empowered with knowledge. This will help you to make better decisions for yourself. Trust me on this.
- Relevance to your education. You’ll be able to “see” how your coursework corresponds with your success in the world of work.
- You’ll evolve into a valued applicant for employers and your applications will more likely be put on the shortlist rather than in the trash bin.