I realise not everyone wants to work for a large recruiter via a graduate scheme yet sometimes it may feel like that is the only thing out there. They do tend to have lots of money to spend on marketing and recruitment so their profile is high. However, would it surprise you to know that only 15% of graduates go onto graduate schemes? Far greater numbers go on to work for smaller or medium-sized enterprises/organisations (SMEs) of up to 250 staff, often much fewer where there can be huge benefits including:
- Quicker selection process, usually just CV and cover letter, interview (no online tests!)
- Quicker timeline from application to start date (they tend to recruit as the work and projects demand)
- Less hierarchical work environment – contact with senior management
- More responsibility – more quickly
- Work across multiple projects
- Access to network for future career opportunities
- Employ lots of recent graduates
- Learn great skills
They just recruit very differently and may not have the time or resources to come to careers fairs or invest in recruitment marketing. Often they use partners to help them recruit, especially if they are smaller start-ups who need talented graduates for interesting projects but don’t have an HR or recruitment team to do this.
I was aware today following our session on “No idea for you career” that you may might not be aware of some of the graduate internship partner initiatives that are available where there are paid jobs with SMEs. I have listed some below
If you are uncertain yet about career direction, or want to build up some valuable experience, these initiatives are a great idea to consider as a “stepping stone”.
Most work with SMEs and offer a great “first job” experience that could lead to a longer-term post with them or give you greater confidence and experience to apply for the next thing – which might be a graduate scheme or a different/similar role within another SME or in the public sector – or set up your own SME!
1) Employ.ed in an SME offers 4-10 week full time or part time internships within small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and is run by the Careers Service working with many SMEs, including tech start-ups. Benefits include having a varied role, lots of responsibility and often working alongside the founders of the company.
All opportunities are advertised throughout the year on MyCareerHub. Search MyCareerHub opportunities for ‘Employ.ed in an SME’ Roles are open to all final year undergraduates, postgraduate students or recent graduates from the University of Edinburgh (2 years after graduation)
Graduate placements through ScotGrad are designed to give you that first piece of graduate-level work experience. Placements can be 6 -12 months with one of Scotland’s growing organisations you’ll gain valuable experience working on a defined project, where you will make a significant impact on a small or medium-sized organisation. Science engineering and tech roles can be really well-paid too, far more than their minimum . Placements are advertised via MyCareerHub too and are available across a range of sectors, including:
- Food and Drink
- Science and Environment
- Energy (Oil & Gas, Renewables)
- Creative Industries
- Travel and Tourism
- IT/Enabling Technology
- Construction and Forest Industries
3) Bright Green Business offers exciting opportunities for students and recent graduates to work with companies and organisations across Scotland. Their aim is to offer meaningful project-based placements to ensure that you are not only gaining credible work experience but that you are also able to have ownership of the work you produce. The placements are paid, run all year round and tend to be short-term ranging from 8 to 12 weeks. Roles range from environmental management, active travel, science & engineering to marketing & communication
4) The Step Programme offers undergraduates and recent graduates a range of work experience opportunities. These can be either short term work placements, generally lasting between eight weeks and six months or longer term internships lasting between six and 12 months. All opportunities have a genuine development focus, are structured, project based and are all paid.
5) Adopt an intern
Find out more about Adopt an Intern
There are other ways to get a foot in the door in an SME so if there is a sector you are interested in come and get some advice from us.
Olivia Steele studied Physics at the University of Edinburgh, but her role is open to chemistry and chemical engineering graduates.
Masters of Physics with Honours Astrophysics, U of Edinburgh, graduated July 2015.
Brief career history, including current job title & employer
I started working for INEOS as a commercial graduate in Cologne, September 2015. I was out there for almost two years and had two roles in that time: ethylene operator and polymers performance analyst. From May of last year, I have been Assistant Product Manager for INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe, based in Grangemouth.
Where was your current job was advertised/how did you find it, what was the appeal, what attributes were the organisation looking for?
I met INEOS at the Edinburgh University Careers fair and so applied online. I was keen to start a new challenge and the commercial graduate scheme was a perfect fit. It appealed to me because INEOS wanted graduates who studied a STEM subject, even for the commercial roles. They appreciated the analytical/numerical skills and problem solving I had learned through university.
Which other organisations offer similar roles?
Most other petrochemical companies offer similar roles, however with INEOS you are given real responsibilities from day one. The company offer lots of support and give you space to expand your role with time.
Can you describe what your job entails or a typical week in your job? With your crystal ball, what does the future for your sector/job look like?
I am responsible for the day-to-day planning of all our chemical products we make on site. This means working with our customers and consumers, the shipping team, different assets and taking part in many cross-optimisation conversations. The future for my current role looks exciting – I am beginning to learn more about cracker economics, getting involved in market analysis and taking part in some long-term projects.
Best/Worst parts of the job
Best part of the job is that every day is different (not a cliché!) and I get to interact with various teams both on site here in Grangemouth and abroad. Worst part of the job is that I have to deal with unforeseen complications – but only sometimes!
How have you used the skills and knowledge from your degree in your job?
Creative problem solving helps when dealing with certain issues and analytical thinking is needed not only for day-to-day planning discussions but also to work out the most cost effective solution in a time-pressured environment.
What extra-curricular experience (eg work experience, volunteering, societies, sports, interests etc) do you believe helped you get where you are today?
I have had a range of different types of work experience – as a shop assistant, a waitress, a summer research student at the observatory and as a research assistant for a company who make sports equipment in Austria – these were all great opportunities to learn about different techniques, improve communication skills and develop customer relations. Being involved in societies and sports also helps with organisational skills and working with different types of people.
Is there anything you wish you HAD done in your past to make it easier to get where you are today?
Perhaps taken some more chemistry modules at university…it’s been a bit of a learning curve!
What advice would you give to students wishing to enter your field of work?
The petrochemical industry is fast paced – make sure you are ready for a challenge, it won’t disappoint!
Are you passionate about science and technology and want to use your skills to solve real problems?
CGG provide geological, geophysical and reservoir expertise to natural resource clients around the globe. They are looking for people with excellent analytical and problem solving skills, who will apply these skills to solving these complex data issues.
CGG will be visiting the University of Edinburgh to share information with you about their graduate and internship programmes, their image processing technology & offer advice on how to prepare for their video interviews & assessment centres.
If you are currently studying Physics, Geophysics, Geology, Maths or Engineering, see them on Thursday 15th March from 1pm – 2pm.
A huge pat on the back for the two undergraduate teams (mentored by Standard Life Investments and iHandover) who made it to the Edinburgh semi-final of the IBM University Business Competition.
They were the only non-business/finance teams and it’s a hugely competitive, prestigious competition so big congratulations to team leaders Anna Oprandi and Freddie Ferguson and their teams (Dafydd Cian, Jon Maxey, Luke Stevens, Sophia Self, Keir Parker-Mian, Georgia Clark, Brinley Terrell and Aidan Marshall)
They didn’t make the final this year but all agreed it was a great opportunity and they learned a lot from the competition process, from each other and it’s an impressive achievement for their CVs.
Update from our Assistant Director about the graduate market in 2018. Some positive news, especially with SMEs
Ruth Donnelly summarises the findings of a recent survey.
High Fliers Research has just published a report about the graduate market in 2018, based on research with the UK’s 100 largest employers. Here are a few interesting snippets for students and new grads:
Large employers are cautiously optimistic about increasing the number of graduates they recruit in 2018. The biggest growth in vacancies is expected in public sector organisations, accounting and professional services firms and engineering and industrial companies.
Graduate recruitment in these large organisations fell last year, for the first time since the financial crash in 2009. This is most likely to be related to uncertainty about Brexit, but they are also carrying unfilled vacancies due to a lack of good applications for some specialist schemes and graduates turning down or reneging on offers. Average starting salaries in large companies remain at £30,000 p.a. with the highest salaries being…
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Did you know UCAS have a Data Science graduate trainee scheme?
Any degree background, but do need to be numerate.
Closing date this Monday! 12th March. More information here
On March 22 Shelter Scotland, Product Forge and Safe Deposit Scotland will be hosting their “Generation Rent Hackathon”; a space where technical and entrepreneurial minds will collaborate with the third sector to develop new ideas that improve the renting experience.
The Hackathon focuses on tackling the Scottish renting crisis by having teams of designers, developers, students and sector experts work together to develop innovative products, services or tools that will solve challenges in the private renting sector
Participants will be given access to data sets from Shelter Scotland, Helpline and National Records of Scotland and will use this information to develop analytical tools that will help log, track and resolve issues between tenants, landlords, letting agents and local authorities.
The event will include 10 free meals, mentoring, networking opportunities and post event support for entrepreneurs interested in expanding their ideas through a start up.
If you are interested in data analytics, hoping to network with politicians and entrepreneurs or just want to solve a problem that impacts real people every day, make sure to sign up for this years Generation Rent Hackathon.
*student concessions available