Internships are a force for good but SME contribution under-recognised

“Record numbers of graduate jobs will be reserved for students who have completed placements at Britain’s leading companies,” today’s Telegraph article begins. Seemingly this is good news for graduates, but does it paint the whole picture?

We at Inspiring Interns worry that the survey, conducted by High Fliers Research, only took into account the opinions 100 leading employers across Britain, effectively ignoring the majority of graduate employers.

A recent IntaPeople survey showed that these ‘major’ schemes employ just 4% of graduates. This means that 96% of graduates will not enter a graduate scheme with one of Britain’s leading companies but start their careers in a junior role at a smaller company.

It is frustrating to see a survey that ignores the opinions of the hiring majority across Britain receive such extensive media coverage. With SMEs responsible for 71% of jobs created in 2009-10, surely they deserve a voice in the graduate unemployment landscape? What’s more, many SMEs that are ready to take on a graduate often struggle to attract applicants due to limited advertising budgets and in turn, many graduates are unsure where to look for these opportunities – only a certain number of companies can hope to be found by Google when they publicise vacancies on their website.

At Inspiring Interns we predominantly work with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and our experience is that more and more businesses are looking at hiring graduates. Often this is done through internships, which give the company a chance to train up a candidate and see them in their workplace; on the other side of the coin it allows a graduate to establish if a role and a company is right for them. Because these roles are not specifically designated for graduates and SME activity is notoriously difficult to measure you will not find these jobs appearing in many official reports or surveys. But they do exist and they represent the reality of the graduate job market.

The figures speak for themselves: 66% of graduates that come to Inspiring Interns end up with a permanent job at the company where they have interned.

So while you should take heart from the latest High Fliers Research survey and acknowledge that you are much more likely to receive a job offer with some work experience under your belt, remember that working for one of Britain’s leading companies is not the be-all or end-all.

For a full list of our roles including marketing internships, advertising internships and PR internships check out these specific pages or check out ourLondon internships page.

Alex has been at Inspiring since December 2010 and manages the marketing team. He enjoys sport, cinema, admiring sharks from a safe distance (on TV) and supports Arsenal. Alex occasionally blogs on, tweets @agtownley or you can add him to your circles on Google+. He is currently training for the London Marathon! Track his progress here: