Friday, September 25, 2015

Was I right to go to university?

Hi I'm Charlotte, a current editorial intern at TARGETjobs. I have recently read a research report by TARGETjobs’ parent company, GTI Media, which was sponsored by EY. It found many parents seem to think of university as the only route for their children, as only 1% said they know ‘a lot’ about university alternatives such as school leaver programmes

During my editorial internship at GTI Media, I have researched and drafted articles for TARGETjobs, which is a graduate careers site, and I have also researched and drafted articles for TARGETcareers, which is aimed at school leavers who are deciding whether they want to go to university or not. I have learned there are many options available to students who have completed their A levels and it has made me think about my decision to go to university: is a degree worth the price tag or are work experience and other ‘earn while you learn’ routes  more valuable in the current employment market? Here are my thoughts.

The benefits of working

I have developed many skills that I can take to a publishing workplace during my four month internship. GTI Media has offered me training in how to conduct editorial interviews, how to communicate with clients, and the basics of search engine optimisation and HTML. I have also learned what recruiters think when interviewing, which will help me with interview processes in the future. These are all great skills and examples to add to my CV.

The best part, for me, has been gaining an understanding about business in general. I’ve had part-time jobs before, but attending weekly meetings at GTI Media about the progress of publications and online content, for example, has given me a commercial awareness and exposed me to how a successful business operates. My experiences have led me consider a business career – something I would never have thought of before. 

The training I have been given has been invaluable. My communication skills have grown from emailing and calling clients as well as interviewing professionals and graduates. My persistence has been tested from not giving up when clients have been hard to get hold of. My writing skills have been developed from drafting articles aimed at different target audiences that are published online and in print. I have learned that I work best when I have many different projects to keep my mind busy, and that I am motivated by visual results, such as seeing articles I have drafted being uploaded online. Surely these examples and skills will appeal to recruiters, not what I think of Dante’s Inferno?

The benefits of university

I have learned a lot of life skills during two years at university that are invaluable for later life. Moving away from home to a new area has allowed me to come out of my comfort zone. It took me time to realise that I'm not going to get on with everyone I cross paths with. I have learned how to pay bills, how to deal with the council, and how to balance my academic studies, extracurricular activities, a part-time job and a social life. How would I have gained these experiences if I did not go to university?

Being an English literature and drama student, I have developed my analytical, research and writing skills from meetings with academics who are experts in their field. University has also given me the opportunity to get involved with extracurricular activities, such as production managing for a theatre company, which has allowed my organisation and management skills to grow. Would I ever have got involved with production managing without going to university? I doubt it.

In conclusion

I have not reached an answer to my original question – I believe there are many options available to students and that all are valuable for different reasons. I do not regret my decision to go to university, as I will have three years’ worth of great memories and friends, and have accepted I will start my working life with a lot of debt. However, I do think that being in the workplace (whether via an internship or apprenticeship) teaches you how to apply your skills in a professional, working environment. Everyone has different desires and needs – students need to explore the variety of routes available to make sure their decision is the best one to suit their aspirations and career. 

Article written by Charlotte Wharf, TARGETjobs Editorial Intern. Connect with Charlotte on LinkedIn