Key to a business hiring a student or graduate is their experience. It is one of the main things a potential employer will look at on any CV and also leads to one of the main questions I always hear – How do you expect me to gain work experience when I have been a student for x amount of years?
The truth is, there are opportunities out there for everyone to get involved in. In this article, I am going to explain what benefits are out there to businesses for giving opportunities to students and hiring them.
So How Do Businesses Benefit?
Businesses do benefit from offering students placements, internships and/or work experience. Let me explain how and why, you should do it too…
Fresh talent, new ideas
Some of the students may be young and inexperienced, but it’s down to people like you and I, to give them an opportunity. Let me take you back a few years and get you to think about your first job – what was it and how hard did you find it? Now think again – these students are doing exactly the same thing, just like someone else helped you, it is now your turn to get them on the job ladder.
College and university students will have some skills that will come in handy in any trade or business – they will have understanding of research (both primary and secondary), presentations, group / team work, time management and will effectively know how to meet deadlines.
Furthermore, they will have a great understanding of the online and digital world, which may perhaps be a weak point for you that they could help you out with? Perhaps, they could manage your social media, create and distribute e-mail newsletters and marketing, do website management, improve and get you using cloud systems, or implement other digital elements to your business?
Students on any kind of placement or work experience should be treated like your other staff members – they should be entitled to the same lunches, breaks and follow the same rules and guidance. It also means that you would need to induct them, just as you would with a new starter who is not a student.
Also, these youngsters can bring some new ideas to the table – from a strategic standpoint to execution.
There are businesses out there that offer students a number of opportunities, but treat them as “slaves”. This is very unfair on them – we’re in the 21st Century now, slavery ended years and years ago. I once overheard a conversation between two businessmen who were describing students as “cheap labour”. Once again, this is out of order – some of them will be better qualified (… okay, maybe not as experienced) than some of your other staff, so why would you treat them differently?
Not all businesses offer paid opportunities – if you really cannot afford to pay them per hour, perhaps you could look at different ways of remuneration – there are firms out there who offer fixed pay per week (for example – £150 per week) or offer to pay for their travel to and from work, as well as any other expenses they may occur whilst working for you – lunches, coffees and etc.).
What is also important to know is that students are there to gain experience and most, if not all, would value this more then anything else you maybe able to offer them. They will be eager to learn, gain as much insight into what you do and how you do it.
I never had a student on placement, why should I now?
Students are a fantastic addition to your work force, not only are they fresh minded, well educated and full of ideas, they can also open your company up to new connections and current trends that you may be missing. Taking on a placement student holds considerably fewer risks than recruiting a new full-time employee, as you are not stuck into contracts and you can see them evolve into the perfect employee who you would be happy to employ at the end.
Just like any other human being, they may be able to introduce you and your firm to new Clients, suppliers, contractors and so on. If you go through the University to advertise the role, then this will also open connections to their services and forthcoming events.
If you decide to take on a graduate then you may also be eligible to a grant from their University – some, but not all, run programs so its worth checking out.
When you make your mind up and decide that you would like to offer a student placement, internship or work experience, sit down and draw up a job description – what would you like him or her to do? On what terms – paid, unpaid or partly paid? How long for? Who will they be reporting to? Any responsibilities? When shall they start? Will it be a full-time or part-time role?
When it comes to advertising the role, you should e-mail all the local colleges and universities and ask them to include it on their Job Boards, portals and mailings. Advertise it on your own website, social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, or add the listing to student oriented website such as studentsjobs.co.uk, e4s.co.uk or Rate My Placement.
Once you have had the students in for the placement, you may find that some of them are so good that you want to keep them – this is another benefit to you – lower recruitment fees! Since, you already have recruited him / her, they would already have been inducted, so all you need to do is create a job offer, sign a contract and get the ball rolling.
In conclusion, there are a number of benefits for both parties – it’s good me telling you about it, as I have already experience it in my company, but why not try it and give it a go!? Try it with one student for a shorter period of time – test the water, listen to the feedback, improve the program (if necessary) and then scale it up. Good luck!
Managing Director at GottaBe! Marketing.
Tomasz is also an Associate Lecturer in Marketing at Southampton Solent University.