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In the world of academic studies, more and more students are choosing to pursue work experience outside of school before graduation. The rewards of student work experience are many, and at its best, work experience often trumps educational attainments when job-seeking. Here are just a few reasons why more employers are valuing work experience over academic performance in new hires, and why work experience can often give students a significant leg-up in the job market.

It Provides Opportunities for Mentorship

In both the private and public sectors, students who seek out work opportunities as undergraduates will likely meet a variety of individuals with years of professional experience. Undoubtedly, the chance to learn from such individuals can put students at a distinct advantage in the job market once they graduate

It Familiarizes Individuals With Real-World Consequences

When a student gets a question on an exam wrong or misses a homework assignment, there is not much at stake in the real world other than the student’s final grade. In a professional environment, however, students will quickly learn that actions can have very real consequences. That kind of preparation for tough decision-making can really make an applicant stand out from other candidates, and in certain high-stakes fields like law and medicine, such knowledge can be absolutely essential.

It Provides Hands-On Training

Indeed, learning to deal with real world scenarios in a professional setting is often a key facet of many student work experience programs. When a student gains onsite experience, they will be able to put many theoretical ideas into actual practice for the first time. That kind of real-world applicability of job skills can easily trump theoretical studies in the employment market, and it is just one reason that employers are increasingly favoring new hires with prior work experience. 

It Teaches Students About Workplace Culture and Communication

As they pursue a university education, most students will tend to study and take exams on their own. Group projects do exist at undergraduate institutions, but grading systems at most colleges will usually make a good studying regimen a solo effort. 

Unfortunately, the culture of self-reliance that universities instill in students often does little to prepare undergraduates for the intricacies of workplace communication. At a time when the ability to adapt to workplace culture is seen as an increasingly desirable skill in new hires, students will want to gain real-world experience to properly adjust to post-university life.