Be a Stepping Stone for a Graduate

stepping stone for a graduateWhy would a graduate join your company when can you offer no career progression? Sure, you can offer a fantastic variety of work and give them massive responsibility. But then what?

I’ve discussed the idea of a small business being the first stepping stone for a graduate in their career. Universities and graduates are very much in favour. I believe it should be a key part of their marketing message in promoting the local small businesses.

However some small business have an unrealistic expectation that they are recruiting a graduate to stay for 5 years. I’d suggest expecting them to stay for 1-2 years and it’s a bonus if they stay longer.

Be a stepping stone for a graduate

Be a stepping stone for a graduate. Demand loyalty and hard work even if they only stay with you for 1-2 years. In return they will gain huge experience. Once they leave, the space they vacate can be taken up with another graduate who can bring something new and different to help your company evolve and grow.

The stepping stone in my career

In 1985 I graduated & worked in a small 2 partner accountancy firm in Glasgow for 3 years. I was grateful for the opportunity to train to be a Chartered Accountant alongside other trainees.

The managing partner was smart. He knew that once we qualified we would leave. So he created a number of roles which he passed trainees through. We were given a lot of responsibility and learnt more in the first year or two than our counterparts in the big accountancy firms.

By the third year we had gained a lot of experience but there was an understanding that once we qualified we would probably leave. So he got the most out of us in that final year before we left. The ones who remained in his firm were the bedrock of his practice – generally they had failed their exams but were experienced managers.

Graduates want to apply their knowledge

70% of staff are happy to just work for the same company

I recently heard that on average, 70% of staff are happy to just work for the same company and do their job without any great ambition. Their real ambition may lie at home with the family or with a leisure activity. Every company needs that foundation of staff to continue doing a good job & provide continuity.

Graduates taking on their first job probably won’t fit into that mould. They have ambition & ideas. They want to apply the knowledge gained at University. When they join your company they may not have a clear idea of where their career will lead. It may be with you but with limited career opportunities open to them, it probably won’t be.

So be a stepping stone for a graduate. If you are open with your intentions, you will attract some good graduates who see you as an attractive alternative when the large companies are seeking students to fill their graduate trainee programmes.

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