Your college or university degree doesn’t mean a thing until you add experience to that. In the past, employers looked for someone with a college or university degree and then spent months training that employee to learn the skills and knowledge needed for the job. The training usually comprises hands-on approach that will teach the workers how to apply what they learned in college to an actual task. But that was before. Today, employers no longer want to train their new hires. They want these new hires to be up and ready for the challenge.
It is true that experience, in any part of your life, is more important than what you have gained in school. That’s why when deciding whether to get that MBA degree or not, ask yourself this question: “Is this more important than an internship, perhaps?” In Singapore, the government activated a traineeship program. This will equip Singaporeans with the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in their chosen careers. The trainees will need to attend classes once or twice a week, while the rest of the week will be dedicated to learning about the industry hands-on. They will also earn a full salary while they are under this program.
Are you going to learn how to drive when you read a book or get behind the wheel of a car? That’s the same logic you should apply when learning the ropes of a job. You will learn more by experiencing doing the actual job than writing a 1,500-word essay about it that you will submit to a professor. This idea of learning is called experiential learning. And while it demands most of your time, it is also effective and vital to the goals of the industry you hope to join.
You can put these experiences into real-life situations when it matters. While books will help you understand concepts and theories, the experience will put these things to the test. It is easier to remember what to do when you’ve already done it than simply reading or hearing about it. Experience boosts your memory. They help you pull from these memories when needed.
While theories will help you understand how a concept or idea came about, it is only by hands-on experience that you can truly apply what you learned. It will help boost your skills or teach you new ones. Whatever existing skills you have now will be boosted by applying them to actual situations. If you theoretically think you are a great car mechanic, then what better way to test that skill than fixing an actual broken car?
Makes You Different
Your experience will make you different from all the others doing the same thing. These experiences will equip you with knowledge on how to do things better or faster. Every experience you get by doing your job will add to your knowledge and make you unique in this field. While the rest sticks to the script, your knowledge and experience will provide more opportunities to be different and better.
Too many times in the past, you worked jobs that you didn’t really want. You take courses you end up disliking. How can you avoid these from happening again? You avoid them by valuing experience first. If you get to experience a job before attaining formal education, you will be more sure of your choice. You will also learn a lot about yourself—your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
Equips You with Soft Skills
Over the years of working, you will learn the most valuable lessons about being with people. These soft skills make you more competitive. They will ready you for the challenges of dealing with people in the workplace. In fact, companies are considering the importance of soft skills nearly as much as hard and technical skills. They see soft skills as the differentiator between a candidate who did good in the job interview and someone who didn’t do as great.
Yes, a college degree adds to your peer base. You will have so many friends that you hardly have a weekend to yourself because you kept meeting them for dinners and coffees. But a college degree will not give you the network you need to be beneficial to your job. Work will give you that. The experience of working even in an entry-level position in an industry will expand your network. That will come in handy once you are part of an organization.
Experience is the best teacher, they said. That may sound cliché, but it is true whether in your personal or professional life. It teaches you not only skills but about yourself. You will learn more about yourself, other people, and the industry you joined through experiences.