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The University Delusion by Charlie Stewart

University teaches you many things, how to effectively squabble over politics, the process of downing pints in industry leading times and most importantly of all, the delusion of self-entitlement. Whilst it is clear for all to see, University is a fantastic experience that assembles the foundation of knowledge often necessary in kickstarting the careers of those who enter the corporate world, but what I have quickly learned during my tenure at BarrettClark Executive Search, is that hands-on experience outweighs education.

The problem with a vast number of Millennials, myself included, is that we believe that as soon as we graduate with our degree there will be a graduate role ready and waiting for us. As I am sure most of us are aware that this is a fairy-tale, it is more likely that God will personally greet you and give you a job as a receptionist at the Pearly Gates. There is a common trend amongst graduates, it has been a mystery for a while as to what this trend is, but for your eyes only I have managed to unearth the very fact, that all graduates will have a degree. Therefore, how can you differentiate yourself from the crowd and put yourself in the best possible position to get on that coveted Graduate Scheme?

Now, unless you are going to become a medical professional, work experience and internships during your time at University will be worth more to you overall than your degree. Yet, it would be ignorant to dismiss the value of your degree, as of course it is often the foot in the door you need in obtaining your first graduate job. However, your degree will only put you on a level playing field with 1000’s of other students applying for the same Graduate programme. How can you be the dog in a pack of sheep? Work. The value of work experience is tenfold, not only do the majority of graduate or entry level roles require experience, many of your peers will already have it, so do not disadvantage yourself.

Work experience or internships serve three fantastic purposes in my opinion. The first of which, and arguably the most important for the individual, is that you gain hands-on experience in your desired profession. This is significant because you will either realise that this is something you can see yourself doing as a career or you will discover that this is something you do not want to be doing for the rest of your life, ruling careers out is as valuable as its counterpart. Work experience gives you the opportunity to quickly ascertain as to what makes you tick in a working environment, which will be crucial come graduation where you will be starting at the bottom of a corporate ladder and you want to ensure you are climbing the right one.

The second most important element of an internship is that you will gain a vast array of knowledge and insight into the world of business, this is where I believe BarrettClark and the world of Executive Search has been of most benefit to me. As we are a consumer-facing Executive Search firm, I have gained a broad understanding of all the consumer sectors we operate in. This is crucial to my career progression going forward as I now understand the processes and operations of numerous roles within blue chip businesses and how you climb the ladder to get there. This is crucial when planning my next step career-wise as I now understand the chain of progression within these particular businesses.

Finally, internships give you the opportunity to begin to develop your professional skills that will be relevant across a plethora of sectors and professions. Not only this, but internships enable you to identify early on where your strengths and weaknesses lie. For example, whilst at BarrettClark I have quickly learned that I perform best when using my interpersonal skills, whether that be on the phone or presenting to other team members. My weaknesses are, well they shall stay concealed for now, but I will certainly be working on improving on them.

My experience with BarrettClark has been extremely beneficial to my development as a professional, I have learned many things I did not know about myself and I have learned a lot more about consumer sector businesses. I now understand how these huge companies operate and how to interact with them on a professional level which will be vital for graduation. Whether I decide to stay in Executive Search or not, the experience has been invaluable to me and has certainly opened my eyes to a career in Executive Search and if it is what I decide to do BarrettClark will certainly be the top of my list of where I would want to continue my journey.


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