You have finished university and it’s time to find your first job. We’re now usually encouraged to apply to a graduate scheme, usually within a big company where competition is incredibly high. If you’re lucky enough to get into a graduate program, it can be a great experience and a strong start to your career. But, I’d argue that working at a small company, where you get real responsibility from day one, will teach you more and actually be a better start to your career.
Work In Startups being my first job out of university has been a great experience and I have learned a LOT. The learning has both been through the more traditional route of more experienced people teaching me, and through trial and error.
From day one, I’ve had responsibilities and been encouraged to figure out how to do certain elements of the job myself. Of course, there has been plenty of guidance but less of a rigid structure to what you’d expect to have in a corporate company. When you’re encouraged to think about how to do certain parts of the job and give it a shot, like being thrown in the (almost) deep end, you learn and pick things up so much faster!
At a smaller company, you are a bigger factor in the day-to-day running of the business, this does increase the pressure on you, but also gives you a voice. As soon as I had settled in, I had a say in how things were done and was involved in decision-making that related to my part of the business. I was always encouraged to share my ideas – this was even part of my goals – which opened me up to many different roles, not just tying me down to the exact job description. The best part about this was if my idea was good enough, we implemented it and I got to see the outcome – pretty cool huh?
Employed as a Marketing Assistant in a large company within their grad scheme, then marketing and most probably, only marketing, is what you’ll do. This might be great and you might love it! But leaving uni, a lot of us have no clue what we will actually love or be good at. In a startup or small business, you get to wear all the hats. In my role as a Business Development intern, I was lucky enough to not be limited to sales.
My sales part of the role involved being the first contact to finalizing the sale and customer aftercare, making sure they are happy with the service. On top of that, I maintained the social media channels and created content such as blogs, interviews and newsletters. I was able to learn and be involved in product development, working closely with our developer looking for ways to improve our product as well as our internal processes to make things both faster and more efficient. I created and maintained our CRM system, giving us better oversight over our customers.
I was in constant communication with our customers both through our email and over the phone, helping them with writing ads and what to include to find the best applicants. Digging through our Google Analytics to understand where our users are coming from and where we need to put in more effort to get users from. And, most recently I’ve been doing some graphic design to improve our social media presence.
All this experience has really allowed me to understand what I enjoy doing the most and what I’m the best at doing! I’ve now successfully completed my internship and I’m leaving with a wide range of skills which has helped me decide which direction I want to take my career.