The importance of summer work experience

Today, I would like to get across to you the importance of generally getting work experience throughout your studies and in particular summer work experience. In my view, getting a degree is not worth much without the suitable work experience to show passion for the subject and put academic results into practice. Having been able to gain about three months of experience throughout each of the last two summers, I also found it a great way to learn from experts in their field and explore future career interests.

The best way to land a summer internship is through contacts. Many students make a number of contacts through networking events offered by the University and if there is a family member in the industry - even better. This is a very usual way to initially gain foothold in an industry. 

Benefiting from both family and networking contacts, I was lucky to gain wide insights into the marine insurance, shipbroking and shipowning sides of the maritime industry.

As such, in the summer after my first year, I joined two marine insurance brokers in Hamburg that introduced me to the industry by involving me in daily claims handling, showing me the policy placing procedure in detail and taking me to various events. Another highlight was the office view onto the Elbe river. During this time, I also joined a fishing trawler to gain some experience working at sea. Working around the clock with 3 hours sleep maximum, slaughtering fish, setting and hauling the nets in sometimes difficult conditions at sea proved challenging and definitely shaped me. I was happy though to get off the trawler after experiencing 8-9 beaufort in the middle of the North Sea.

During my first summer, I then built the contacts to secure various internships in my second summer break. As such, I was able join three maritime law firms, which gave me a crucial background knowledge of legal backgrounds in the industry. I also was lucky to join a shipowner, working mostly in the insurance department to develop a new claims database for two months, during which I also practiced a few bits on the company’s ship simulator designed for training seafarers.

All this experience gave me a good advantage in my second and going into my third year, learning about issues that I had already experienced in practice. I think that it also gives a huge advantage in terms of graduate job search and future career perspectives, so I strongly believe that every student should spend a few months of their summer working and gaining the necessary experience.