University or Experience within the industry or a combination of both?

Journalism under-graduate, Charlotte Carter finds out.

Charlotte Carter

Charlotte Carter

University has become an off-putting prospect for many young people across the country. Fees have tripled and so has the loan at the end of the degree. Graduate jobs are harder to come by and fear amongst students that they will end up unemployed or in a non-graduate job is sky high.

When I was investigating which university to go to three years ago, I found myself torn. Should I stay or should I go? I was concerned that fees were set to triple and the prognosis of being saddled with the debt in excess of £27,000 before I even started my working life was not very appealing. Added to that, the job market was dire. I wasn’t the only one teetering on the fence.

While I was weighing up my options, I thought about a much-debated question within the media and creative industry as a whole. Is a degree what counts in the eyes of an employer or is it experience they want. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. Some argued experience was much more valuable, while others maintained education was priceless. I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

Things have changed within universities up and down the country; offering courses to students that gives them hands on work, as well as a chance to gain work experience with well appointed companies. Students are required to learn industry standard software, as well as attend press conferences, court procedures and other conventions to understand how it feels to be working within the industry. It’s not all lectures and Essays about what you will be doing after finishing your studies.

Universities now understand that work experience and industry connections, in any degree, are vital for their students to succeed after graduation. They are becoming more accredited for their connections within the industry.

Work experience is vital on any CV. Employers will be discouraged by graduates who haven’t explored their skills through work experience or internships. Aside from that, it’s a great way to showcase your talents and show your enthusiasm. Education alone is no longer a good enough weapon, and neither is industry experience. Employers want graduates who have had a range of experience as well as extensive knowledge.

It’s a competition for any job, so you have to stand out. University is hard work, but if you can make the most of the holiday breaks using your skills and expanding your contacts through work experience. If you do that, then why wouldn’t you be in with a good chance?

Although experience offers you a direct link into the industry, in many instances there is a certain barrier you hit, and in order to go further, you have to have knowledge. Showing dedication and ability to work under pressure whilst studying for a degree, shows prospective employers that you can multi-task under pressure and to tight deadlines.

Going to university and getting a degree might be an expensive choice, but bear in mind that education alongside work experience is priceless, when compared to one without the other.

You may have heard of a well established media guru who didn’t go to university and how far they’ve got. But truth be told, how many of those are out there? Small percentages get through the career ladder with experience through luck. Your chances automatically double with a degree as well.

I don’t regret my decision to go to university. I have been able to study as well as get work experience with people in the industry. My contacts are constantly growing and so is my education. It’s a daunting prospect of to start work experience, after all you are stepping into the unknown, but life is about taking risks. The more you do something, the easier it becomes.

So, in my opinion, it’s not a question of which one is better, it’s a case of doing both.

Charlotte Carter is a second year Journalism undergraduate from Southampton Solent.