A recent study has revealed that graduates going on a post-university gap year may be ... harming their employment prospects' with only 7% of businesses classing them as more worthwhile now than before. This shows that more employers are now considering what graduates have actually achieved during their gap year and checking that it is not simply a holiday around the world.
If your degree includes a placement year, then it is important to take advantage of that. Two thirds of companies' leaders thought that this experience makes graduates more employable. For example, a placement year works well for degrees like engineering where students can see first-hand how designs are turned into reality. Also, language degrees often involve a year abroad, which helps students to be immersed in the local culture. Employers will definitely look favourably upon students that have worked abroad, especially if the company has a wide international reach.
For those of you that have not had a year in industry, all is not lost, since there are plenty of ways to sample work and in the end get a graduate job. Internships are a good way of experiencing work at a company for a few months, with the added bonus of getting a graduate job or a fast-tracked application. In a way, some students may not prefer to be away from university or abroad for a whole year, so this type of work experience provides a suitable alternative. The key is to not only think what will look good on your CV, but rather consider the type of work that will help you to move forward.
Overall, diving into industry has some genuine benefits but you should think whether you want to spend a whole year in industry or if a shorter placement will suit you better. Companies are impressed by good work experience and overseas travel, especially when you show how the experience has helped to develop your overall skill set. Therefore, take some time to consider the various options and then you can decide which one is actually right for you.