Work experience is seen by many as a double edged sword. With work experience, there is the chance to gain valuable on the job training and inside knowledge of a job that you would not be able to achieve in a college course or learning establishment. However, many people enter into this type of position with the understanding that there may be permanent employment at the end and this is not always the case.
Work experience should primarily be seen as the chance to gain an insight into the working environment. Many colleges and universities will offer such placements as part of their courses. For example, if you are seeking a degree in journalism, there may be the chance of work experience at a local newspaper. There are many people who have been offered full-time permanent employment at the establishment where their work placement took place. This should be treated as the exception and not the rule, but it is often a good place to make contacts and lets employers assess the capabilities of the candidate.
Many governments also run work experience programs. They are a way for unemployed people to integrate themselves into the working environment. They are also a way for unemployed people to test the waters and find out if they are suited to certain types of jobs or work environments. The employment can be unpaid for a certain length of time but unemployment benefits will not be lost.
This is where some amount of controversy has come in to work experience programs. Certain employers see these programs as a way to gain cheap employees. At the end of the placement, the employer can simply say the employee did not fit in or was not suitable. It is for these reasons that many unemployed people will not consider the unpaid working programs.
Work experience is, however, a great way of gaining an insight into particular working environments. In some employment areas, competition for jobs can be fierce. By taking low or unpaid opportunities, the employee essentially has a head start over other prospective job seekers. The employee has their foot in the door and may be favorably looked upon when applying for permanent positions.