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The Graduate Scheme alternative: start up your career

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Uber. Airbnb. Snapchat. What do these companies have in common? Most obviously, they’re all wildly successful, holding a collective value exceeding $120 billion. However, what you might not know is that these now ubiquitous brands began as start-ups.

More and more start-ups are being created each year in a range of sectors, holding similarly grand ambitions. In fact, in 2016 alone, government-backed campaign StartUp Britain found that entrepreneurs were creating 80 new companies an hour. With so many fledgling business enterprises evolving, an untapped source of graduate jobs is emerging with it.

The prospect of graduating is a daunting one. Reckless hedonism can no longer be justified by merely bellowing ‘unay’. Loans dry up. Yet perhaps most intimidatingly of all, you’re thrusted into a job market with gladiatorial levels of competitiveness. Even with research from High Fliers finding that the number of graduate vacancies reached its highest ever level in 2016, the number of applications have continued to rise with this as companies broaden their demands, causing competition to remain fierce.

More and more start-ups are being created each year in a range of sectors, holding similarly grand ambitions

Bombarded by career fairs where some of the country’s largest corporations attempt to lure students with bowls of Haribo starmix, a glittering array of free pens, and the promise of high starting salaries, final-year students begin to feel that graduate schemes are their only option. Whilst they can grant graduates with invaluable experience and lead to successful careers, these aren’t necessarily for everyone. The application process is normally lengthy, with a combination of psychometric testing, self-recorded video interviews and intimidating assessment centres, often proving too much for many who are already balancing these with countless academic deadlines.

The corporate lifestyle and the prospect of being another faceless suit in a vast office also may not be to everyone’s taste. With thousands of graduates signing up to work for large companies, it can be hard to make your mark. Rising through the ranks can be a painfully slow process, with the internal politics that large corporations inevitably face often causing delays in decisions and project implementation. Competition amongst colleagues is also common, as there may be a limited number of permanent jobs available at the end of the graduate scheme, potentially creating an unpleasant atmosphere amongst your peers.

The corporate lifestyle and the prospect of being another faceless suit in a vast office also may not be to everyone’s taste

With these imperfections in mind, it’s vital to note that the rapid expansion of start-ups across the country mean that graduate schemes are not your only option. Defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or an instance of setting in operation or motion”, start-ups are newly formed companies with dynamic new ideas in how to solve a particular problem. Whilst obviously initially small in scale, progress can be rapid, holding the potential for a hugely exciting working environment where no day is the same.

The key benefit of working for a start-up is that it enables you to have immediate and major responsibility over a business’ fortunes. Their small size means that everyone’s role is equally important, thus offering a graduate an unparalleled level of experience, especially when compared to working for a large corporation, where the work you will be given at first will be of less consequence. It offers you the chance to be more versatile, requiring you to regularly make quick decisions across broad areas of the business. Amongst a small team, being noticed for your good work becomes far easier, perhaps even also from outside the business.

The rapid expansion of start-ups across the country mean that graduate schemes are not your only option

Start-ups are known for more informal working environments; the focus is on innovation and amongst a small team, a positive working atmosphere is crucial. The corporate office space is an acquired taste and for many, a relaxed environment that prioritises employee happiness and communal feeling over churning out results, may be preferable. This lends itself to a start-up, as working in a small team means that it becomes even more important for everyone to get on if the business is to develop.

It’s easy to be deterred from applying to work for a start-up; with so many created each day, it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s where recruitment agencies such as Instant Impact are an essential asset. Instant Impact is a recruitment agency that specialises in finding graduate jobs and student internships with many of the country’s most exciting start-ups and scale-ups. Taking only a few minutes to sign up, they find jobs targeted to your interests and put you in direct contact with these companies, making the application process far less daunting.

A relaxed environment that prioritises employee happiness and communal feeling over churning out results, may be preferable

As their name suggests, the principal benefit of working for a start-up is that they give you the opportunity to make an impact from the outset. It’s a level of responsibility that looks fantastic on a CV and will ensure employers immediately take notice. Start-ups aren’t perfect; they can be unstable, risky ventures, and starting salaries may be lower. However, weighed up against the potential benefits, they offer an exciting alternative to the conventional graduate path.

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