I was one of those people at university a couple of years ago that had it drummed into her that degrees mattered! If I’m being completely honest, in hindsight, and the mess that has been our economy for the last couple of years, I’m not sure that I would have tried so hard. But that aside, at that moment of refreshing your computer screen every five seconds in heart stopping nerves, I was thrilled to see that I had achieved the results that I wanted and worked so hard for. My mum obviously cried and then fought with my dad about not getting excited enough!
Anyway, I must admit that I was ecstatic! Not just about all those hours, coffees (and red bulls) in the library finally paying off, but the new slight sense of relief I was now experiencing in regards to my job hunt. The ‘it must be easy to get a great job doing exactly what I want’ vibe which my friends and I celebrated and relaxed in the knowledge of for the next week (well a month if I’m truthful).
In hindsight, the economy and headless suits slightly brought my reverie into a premature end.
All I wanted to do was travel when I left university, but I knew that at some point I would want to knuckle down and make something of myself. I didn’t know ‘exactly’ know what I wanted to do, but got stuck into various jobs to try my hand – in property, fashion and pr with a variety of corporate and start up businesses. I enjoyed my jobs and learnt invaluable skills along the way, but got slightly tiresome of being the bottom rung of the ladder, and not really knowing how long my job would be available for.
It was at this point after receiving through the daily vacancy email results and a recruitment company progress meeting scheduled for the following week that I found an advert for an internship at Ivy Lettings.
Now I had always fantasised about working in the travel industry as I think many graduates do these days; the idea of combining a serious career with the travel bug which never truly leaves your system. The internship was to work for a small company holding a niche position in the travel market – offering a ‘home from home’ experience in London for travellers. Having experience in marketing, properties and travel – I applied immediately!
I met Guy in the Westfield’s centre, (perhaps a secret shopaholic?!) and chatted through what I could bring to the company. Only then did I learn that by ‘small company’ it was just 1 person and it was a rare chance to get involved with an entrepreneurial company from its early stages with opportunities for growth all around. I was shocked to say the least but impressed! (And my first impressions were indeed correct with his eyes flickering towards the Mac store and our office now being the Mac showroom of Kensington!)
It is a very different thing working for a small business and even more so when on your first day you move into the new office and organise everything from phone lines and stationary to where the nearest coffee shops are as you haven’t got any kitchen supplies in yet. But without a doubt it allows you to feel part of something new and exciting from the very beginning, and even better, has given me such as diverse role that I don’t think I could ever go back to the corporate side of things.
Working in a small team can feel strange at first and the team meetings are granted a bit strange/pointless with just the two of us. But the over-riding advantage is the vast role variety and opportunities which only a small growing business can offer. No two days are the same, with meeting new clients, new properties, website management and marketing schemes as just a few, as well as business expansion ideas and strategies when you get the time. There are so many new avenues to explore that there is never a dull moment. I believe that business really does work to the motto that you reap what you sow, and just as it was the most satisfying moment seeing those percentage marks pop up on the computer screen a couple of years ok, it is rewarding to read rave reviews on the internet after your hard work and watching the business expand –we’ve just taken on a third colleague!
The best thing about small businesses also rings true with internships – the opportunity to get stuck in and try things! No one can ever be good at everything, but only by trying your hand at diverse tasks and inevitably doing things wrong at some point will teach you your strengths and being able to play to these is key with employers. Being thrown in at the deep end can be daunting, or rather IS daunting but only in hindsight will you realise how many skills you learn and perhaps discover that you never knew you had. Even often overlooked aspects such as the confidence you gain working with unfamiliar people and meeting new clients are invaluable skills which employers will look for (especially in that all important confident hand shake).
The willingness to try and get stuck in is what employers will be most impressed with and might be the deciding factor in turning an internship or opportunity into a full time position.