The excitement builds in the quest to make SMEs a positive career choice for graduates. I’m about to lose control.

I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it
I’m about to lose control and I think I like it
I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it
And I know, I know, I know, I know, I know
That we’re going to crack this graduates into SME malarkey soon

One of the five lines above was not written by the Pointer Sisters.

But I am really excited and have no immediate plans to hide it. You may remember that we (that’s GTI Media and STEP) have undertaken two parallel research surveys in the last couple of months: one with smaller, high-growth potential businesses and the other with undergraduates.

The first was to understand better how smaller businesses regarded graduates as both permanent employees and interns; how they currently filled their vacancies; how they contributed to the success of the business (or not) and how they would like to be perceived by graduates being actively targeted on campus by much larger and better-known recruiters. We were told that smaller businesses never completed surveys and we’d struggle to get the 200 completions we had aimed for. Well I’m please to report that not only did we get nearly 250 completions, but many of these completions contained lengthy and thoughtful comments and suggestions. And over half said they wouldn’t mind a follow-up telephone call to pick their brains some more. Which we will be doing shortly.

With the help of one of our partners, NUS, we also surveyed nearly 900 undergraduates to explore their views on applying to and working for smaller businesses and whether they had any concerns about small business careers in terms of career development, status, salary etc.

I can’t let you know yet what we found out, even if you suspended me by my thumbs above a boiling vat of fish fat or gave me a season ticket for Man United. Although the latter would cause me more exquisite agony of course. A pair of season tickets and I’d be singing like a bird.

Why this dramatic silence?? Because we already have a date for the preliminary findings: Wednesday 11 September at the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) Conference in Exeter. And we want the people there to be the first to know.

And we also have an even bigger date for your diary: Tuesday 26 November in Birmingham when we will hold, together with AGCAS and supported by NUS and CIPD, a national Conference called ‘Graduates into Smaller Businesses’ where we will not only reveal the Full Monty in research terms but we will put forward some practical solutions to the age-old issue: convincing students and graduates to think positively about the benefits of working for smaller businesses at the same time as they dutifully attend campus presentations given by the big recruitment brands.

GTI Media and STEP would like to thank everybody who has helped us with the project so far, including all the careers services and small business organisations who promoted the surveys, but especially NUS, CIPD, Yorkshire Graduates, Graduate Careers Scotland, GoWales and Graduate Advantage.

The preliminary findings and full Report will be sent to all the smaller businesses who took part and also to everyone who helped.

And you, my irregular readers, will get so much information, so many insights, such a superfluity of stuff about graduates and small businesses over the next few months that you will beg me to desist. As I may have already said, I’m just so excited and I just can’t hide it.

It’s not a pretty sight.

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