“It’s just me, the dog, and the kettle…” – Why we work with SMEs and you can too

 

Best quote from a business development call EVER, I think!

The person I spoke to couldn’t believe that I was calling to offer him a way to access graduate talent, because he wasn’t from a massive conglomerate or big-brand company. “Surely there is no way a new graduate would be interested in working for a smaller company?” he asked. On the contrary, one of the things we do best at Step is finding the roles that you would find it difficult to find yourselves. We make those calls so you don’t have to, we make sure the relationship is going to be sound, and that the role itself is interesting, challenging, and will be an enriching experience.
When you have conversations about your plans for your future, you often talk in terms of roles or job titles, sometimes in general fields or industries, but rarely in terms of the kind of company, you will work for. When you visualise your working life, did you picture being in a building where you pretty much know who everyone who works there is, or is it in a team that sits within a large company with many offices?

Obviously this will depend on your specific career goals – after all if you are planning on going into medicine, there will never be a day when you are not surrounded by hundreds of people – but given the vast majority of companies in this country are SMEs (Small or Medium Enterprises), chances are that you will find yourself working for an SME at some point.

So let’s get to know our SMEs, how they work, and what they can do for you.

In our Step Business blog, we have previously written about what graduates can bring to an SME:

http://www.step.org.uk/students-graduates-can-smaller-businesses-step-top-10/

It is really important to know that businesses are going to value your work, but it is also good to see how this is an opportunity for graduates as well. In our workshop Think Big Choose Small, which we offer to Universities, we really dig into this subject, but I thought I would give you the basics, using some comments from our own business contacts in the past:

  1. “It’s just me, the dog, and the kettle…” – an extreme example, yes, but being closer to the MD or business owner is really eye-opening. You see and hear the realities of running a company, and chances are will be more aware of the financial balancing act at the same time. You see the direct result of the work you do impacting the success of the business, and are never lost in the crowd.

 

  1. “There are only 10 of us here…” – Small teams = accountability. Being accountable is a really important skill to learn in the world of work, because this means that whatever task you undertake, you dedicate yourself to its progress, success, and that it is delivered on time. After all, if there are only 10 of you, you have to pull together. If someone tells me they practice accountability in their work when they apply for a role with Step, I know that they can demonstrate the kind of work ethic that is required for the job.

 

  1. “We’re really busy, so they need to be able to get straight in there…” – PERFECT. This gives you a challenge, as it tests how well you pay attention and absorb information; another vital skill. In the first few weeks of a new job, your learning curve will always be steep, but hopefully this is something that should inspire you. Using fresh knowledge from your degree, this is your chance to prove yourself, and show them they have chosen the right person. And in a small company, you get noticed FAST.

 

  1. “They will be the only person really looking after that area of the business once they’ve settled in….” – Getting that kind of responsibility that is more typical in a small business is much rarer in large companies. However, in a larger company, you’d possibly spend years working there before you headed up a whole area of the business, and these are the roles that look brilliant on your CV. Embrace the challenge, and take control.

 

  1. “We’ve got a lot of new projects happening this year, so we are expanding…” – Again, this is a sign of a successful company. Getting involved while a company is still small, means you could be a part of the success. You will make an impact on the directions they take, and in a few years you may find yourself looking back, knowing that you helped make it all happen. And by then, who knows what other opportunities you may have created.

If you are interested in hearing more about opportunities with SMEs, and want us to come to your University to run a Think Big Choose Small workshop, talk to your Careers department and ask them to give us a call, or email

nottingham@step.org.uk

Alternatively, if you have already graduated and you are looking for your first opportunity, make sure you are registered with us so that we can find you if something becomes available, and keep your eye on our Opportunities page.

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