Graduate job seekers are more likely to be attracted to the major multinational organisations rather than a smaller business. But are our graduates missing out on a huge opportunity by not considering what smaller businesses have to offer?
De Montfort University Champions Graduates
Like most universities De Montfort University runs a graduate internship programme. Since November 2013, 1000+ DMU graduates have enjoyed internships with firms in Leicester, Leicestershire and across the rest of the country under the DMU Graduate Champions scheme. The scheme is designed to give graduates the opportunity to apply their knowledge in the workplace, enhance their CVs, boost their confidence and help them stand out from the crowd in a furiously competitive jobs market.
Intern Irfan Bhawoodin said “I have been at Exponential Training for six weeks and looking back the internship has been very beneficial for me. I have had the opportunity to work on a number of activities and European projects including LEXSHA and UseWine. – by working on these projects I now have an insight into how these projects work and I also got to experience working part of a large team with partners that are across Europe”.
Irfan is one of thousands of graduates who having graduated last year is still searching for his first major career break. Armed with his BA in Business and Management, bags of commitment and enthusiasm, Irfan threw himself into his role as a Project Research Assistant at Exponential Training.
“I have also had the opportunity to work on a number of business tools and applications including Polldaddy, MailChimp, Camtasia and Wiggio. Overall being an intern for the past six weeks at Exponential Training has been a great opportunity – it has allowed me to gain real world work experience, which for most employers is key for when they are looking to appoint someone. My degree taught me a lot and also helped me gain a number of skills, but working for Exponential Training as an intern has shown me what requirements and demands employers are looking for. This was done by giving me important tasks to work on in which I was able to use skills and knowledge gained in university and apply them to tasks in the real world”.
Why don’t more graduates consider an internship in a smaller business?
Most graduates are unaware of the benefits small and medium sized enterprises (SME) can offer and have no idea how to take advantage of them. SMEs like Exponential Training can provide a rich and practical option for university leavers struggling to compete for the popular graduate schemes at large global companies. Often the breadth of experience working in a smaller business can outweigh the benefits of being lost in a large corporation.
Some advantages of working for an SME include:
- SMEs can offer personal, one-to-one coaching and on-the-job training and invaluable hands-on experience
- They have the flexibility to get graduates involved in a wider range of tasks and provide a variety of experiences and skills as job roles are often less firmly defined in small companies
- Smaller business often encourage you to voice your own ideas and make you feel like you are making a real contribution to the business. You will be able to see your ideas implemented and to see things through from start to finish
- Small businesses offer good prospects for graduates who do join them and there are more likely to be opportunities to develop roles and further careers
- The working environment is usually more informal and less bureaucratic – it is often more relaxed than in larger organisations
- SMEs offer the opportunity to work closely with people on all levels of the business including senior management and to have your work noticed
Benefits for the SMEs
It is not a one-way street either as there are benefits for the SME as well. Irfan has had a positive impact on Exponential Training. He has taken the lead on several initiatives and delivered quality outcomes. Simply by having Irfan work here, we have reflected on many things – as a result of his work on Polldaddy, we are now looking to move to another survey tool so we can add even more features into our research surveys.
My advice to anyone thinking about internships would be to get in touch with your local university and talk to them about potential opportunities and how you can work together.