Work experience versus academia

I’ve recently had the opportunity to return to full-time study. It’s been such a rewarding experience. Don’t get me wrong, choosing to return to education as a ‘mature student’ wasn’t an easy decision. Weeks before the semester started I was having sleepless nights as well as all kinds of self-doubts. In fact walking through the college doors has been one of the bravest things I have done for quite a long time.

So qualification received, what have I achieved?

I recently received my results in the post and was very proud to see in, black and white, that I’d successfully completed my HND and achieved an A in my Graded unit. No easy task. But what have I really learned and what added value is there to gaining a new qualification?

My academic year was choca-block with assignments, assessments, online exams and reports to hand in. So I learned how to organise my time better. Work continued as did all the other commitments I already had so out of class time involved late nights, lost weekends and snatched lunch-breaks. It would all be worth it, I knew I’d ‘get there’ but where is ‘there’?

On completion of the course I have secured a place at uni and I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey of self-development. But what can I do with what I have already learned? Honestly? . . . not a lot! I feel the time at college gave me snapshots of areas I might like to work in but I am no where even near the finished article. With this in mind, and my place at uni looming I decided to do what I did when I was 17 and look for some work experience. Since volunteering my time at one of the UK’s top web development companies I have learned so much more about what is actually involved in this industry I’m hoping to spend the next chapter of my life working in. The skills I started to develop at college have given me a knowledge and understanding of the digital world but in a short time working within a productive environment I have really had my eyes opened. I have gained an invaluable insight into how it is in the real world. The technology, the software, the workflows the trends all of which I never got to learn about in college. So, work experience versus academia discuss! Both have been a great experience and I definitely couldn’t have had work experience without the college experience, but I feel that modifying the college course to involve students in a real world environment should be a priority. Ease up on the reports and continuous documentation. Expose them to something more exciting outside of the class room and direct them to¬†where their ‘there’ can be.