Why Are Learnerships So Important?
Picture this: you have just graduated from university with a sky-high GPA, a long list of extra-curricular activities and honors, page after page of recommendations and accolades from esteemed professors and peers, and a cover letter that you are certain will blow away any prospective employer. But there is one major problem: you don’t have any experience.
Educators and recruiters are constantly told by students that they can’t get a job after graduating because employers say they aren’t experienced enough. The whole how can I have experience when I am literally just entering the working world argument is sung high and low by students who forgot and neglected to apply for learnerships before graduating. But guess what? Hundreds of other graduates applying for the same jobs as you did not forget.
“What? Who said anything about a learnership? I got an excellent (and expensive) education and learned everything I needed to know from my professors. Wasn’t that the point of going to university? Besides, when was I supposed to work a learnership? When I wasn’t in school, I was bussing tables to pay for my books. There wouldn’t have been any time for that. Why are they so important anyway?”
Why Are Learnerships So Important?
Good question. Why are learnerships so important? Are they really worth working an entire summer or semester, likely without pay? Will a recruiter spend a little more time looking at your resume? Will it help you secure a job that you want over a job that you simply need to make a living?
The answer is, without question, YES.
There are so many reasons why learnerships are an important part of shaping your professional future. Here are 8 of them:
Your Cover Letter Isn’t Everything. People will argue that applicants who are fortunate enough to gain the attention of a major recruiter were likely able to because of a kick-ass cover letter. Yes, your cover letter helps shape your chances, but it primarily serves as a prologue to your resume. Not all jobs require that you be a good writer and recruiters recognize that. They are more concerned with what kind of experience you have.
Why Are Learnerships a Test-Run. Do you know how many people change their major mid-way through their education? THOUSANDS. It is incredibly common for someone to begin university declared as a psychology major, for example, only to realize that they are not a people person and would prefer a life working in finance. Opposite ends of the spectrum but it happens. Or, to a lesser extreme, maybe you are in magazine journalism but find that radio and TV is a better fit. A learnership is the perfect opportunity to give your intended career path a test-run, just to make sure that it is right for you. Wouldn’t it suck to go through your entire education only to find out that your time was not well-spent? Don’t get yourself stuck.
Networking Opportunities. The more exposure you have to people who have already gotten the job you want, the better. No further explanation needed here.
A Vehicle Toward Employment. Companies don’t only offer learnership opportunities out of the charitable goodness of their hearts. They get a lot out of it too; free (sometimes) help and a potential entry-level hire. It’s their way of getting a feel for who you are as a professional while training you to possibly work full-time for them in some capacity. This isn’t always the case, but a candidate with relevant experience is far more attractive than a candidate with no experience.
Coursework That Matters. As you’d hope and expect, learnerships help us understand the fields we work in. Dedicating a summer or semester to a job in your niche will help you choose which classes to enroll into better prepare yourself for your career. Universities have certain classes that are required by major, but the further you get into your education, the more you can tailor your schedule to your needs and interests. This will ultimately help you bring more to the table if you choose to do multiple learnerships (which you should).
Skills & Motivation. A successful learnership can be the ultimate motivation. It’s almost like the light at the end of the tunnel. You get a taste for what life will be like after graduating, assuming you end up applying to jobs in the same field as your learnership, which can be incredibly motivating. You’ll gain professional skills that you cannot get in a classroom, you’ll work hands-on with people who have been in your shoes and “made it,” and even if you don’t realize it… you’ll approach the rest of your schooling with a fresh set of eyes and determination.
Less Time In A Classroom. Did we peak your interest there? You may be able to get college credit for your learnership. There are many universities that will grant you credit toward your degree if you work a qualifying learnership during your enrollment. Your student/career advisor should be able to provide you with information on your school’s policies and eligibility. Why not knock off a few credits by getting valuable, hands-on experience?
The Ultimate Resume Builder. Last, but certainly not least, your learnership will be the key line-item on your resume. Employers will note what school you attended and, perhaps, what clubs you were involved in… but the first thing they will want to know is where you have worked and if that experience is relevant and valuable to the job you are applying to. If your resume is filled with part-time jobs that have nothing to do with your career path, they’ll have a lot of questions. Why didn’t they work for a
Why didn’t they work for a learnership? Are they dedicated enough? Motivated enough? Do they really think they’re more qualified than the kid I just interviewed who worked three learnerships during university? GPA, cover letters, recommendations, achievements… they all DO matter. But at the end of the day, your recruiter is going to care less about your A in art history and more about your ability to gather data in an Excel sheet and write up a detailed analysis on short notice.
It may be difficult to find the time to squeeze a learnership into your already busy schedule, but it is so worth it and so necessary. You just have to tell yourself that it will function as your ticket into your dream job, and will be the difference between a paid-by-the-hour job and a concrete salary job. Now tweak that resume, customize your cover letter and start applying! You won’t regret it.