Why work experience is so important for a graduate, no matter how big or small

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Paolo Espiritu, graduate software developer, thinking back to his life before Capgemini and the development of his professional profile, his work experience and individual projects spring to mind.  

Aside from the academic experiences of university the things that strike a chord in my personal development are the encounters I had with different businesses. I had a mixture of technical and customer service roles. My first job was a kitchen porter for a small café; I then went on to work as a retail assistant for several companies; then as a website administrator for a family run bookshop; and again, as a website administrator for a farm. Now that I have graduated and started building my career, I have had the chance to reflect on what these experiences have taught me and how they’ve helped me get to where I am today.

From my time working with a small holding and animal husbandry business as a website administrator, to working in a customer service role in a retail position; I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone to adapt in different types of businesses. These roles have challenged me, and in doing so have boosted my confidence in myself and my capabilities. I’ve helped sell ducklings and antique books, beehives and the history of Hadrian’s Wall! I’m grateful for those experiences as they were key in my personal development. Below are some of the lessons I learnt and skills I’ve picked up.

Lesson 1 – Confidence

Working in retail positions meant that I had first hand interaction with customers; this built my confidence not only with interacting with people I had never met before, but also confidence in myself to be able to handle queries and or issues while under pressure during busy periods on the shop floor.

Lesson 2 – Familiarity of a Large Organisation

I completed a placement year as part of my degree, it took me out of the academic landscape and gave me the opportunity to be part of a large organisation. Being part of a wider system and understanding my role, prepared me to know what to expect when joining the professional workforce after graduating.

Lesson 3 – Networking

It was during placement where I learnt the importance of networking. Not only did it help me meet new people and build great friendships, it also built professional connections with individuals who in the future could support and or recommend job opportunities in the industry. For example, I met the person who interviewed me for this job at a careers fair I attended.

To compliment my degree in my final year of university I made a conscious effort to develop a project portfolio that showcased my personal interest in programming. This included daily challenges and personal projects to expand my technical skillset and learn new technologies: my favourite personal projects were: an android application I built to track the hours I spent on different modules in university; and an ongoing website application project that holds all my favourite recipes .

It has now just been over two months since I started my role as a graduate developer at Capgemini. From the soft skills I’ve picked up from retail and administrative jobs, to the skill of learning and understanding a new role from my placement year, already I can appreciate how these experiences have prepared me in starting my career in Capgemini.

Despite the effects of COVID19 and starting this role remotely, I am already in close contact with my team, building relationships and establishing my main goals for the next few years of understanding my role, how it fits in with the team and beginning my learning journey to get my certification as an ABAP developer.

 

 

Author


Paolo Espiritu a graduate software developer for Capgemini. He studied Computer Science at the University of Brighton.

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