How medium enterprises can compete against corporates for graduates

| November 19, 2012


Internships are often associated with large companies and big corporates. Alice Watkins from UTS shares how as a mid sized business, you too can tap into these valuable resources.

As the costs for hiring experienced employees escalates, it makes sense for medium enterprises to consider growing their own staff as a cost effective element in their recruitment and long term growth strategies.

What can medium enterprises learn from larger organisations?

Large organisations know well that new graduate recruitment brings long term dividends.  After 2-3 years, graduate recruits will have developed skills and management capabilities and will be well versed in the company culture, products and services.  At this stage they add significant value as revenue earners, yet their salary costs are relatively low.

At higher levels, recruitment involves competitive high salaries, agency costs, significant management time and time for the new employee to come up to speed. Corporates know that a good graduate who stays several years therefore offers an excellent return on investment.

Medium enterprises don’t have the time or resources for a formal graduate attraction program, how do they compete with the large corporates?

The large corporates recruit very early and take on less than 10% of all graduates.   Now is the time when many talented final year students will still be actively seeking graduate employment.  Advertising through the university Careers Service can reach a directly relevant target market at minimum cost.

Developing a relationship with a university is an excellent way to attract graduates.  At UTS, we encourage and facilitate employers to engage with the relevant professional faculty to raise profile and build a mutually rewarding engagement.

How do medium enterprises take the first steps?

A cost effective, time efficient and low risk way of becoming a graduate employer is to take on an intern. This enables the employer to experience the work and fit of a student before making a longer term commitment. Most UTS programs have an internship component as UTS degrees are all professionally focussed. The Careers Service can help organisations connect with the appropriate students and faculty.

Offering a good internship is also one of the best ways of raising an organisation’s profile among the student group.  A good internship is one where the student is challenged, is contributing, is learning, has responsibilities, and is made to feel part of a team.   The news about good intern employers travels among students faster than the internet!

What do medium enterprises need to think about when taking on a graduate or intern?

Taking on graduates or interns need not have the strict formal structure practised by larger organisations.  A medium organisation may have to be more flexible.  However, some thought needs to be given to the following questions to gain the best outcomes for both parties.  What skills or knowledge will the interns or graduates be learning and applying? How will they be guided and supervised?  Is there some relevant preparation and learning (on-line courses perhaps) they can do for pending projects?  How will the graduate(s) be integrated into the team?  What responsibilities will they have? What are their achievement objectives?

Today’s Gen Y likes variety, early responsibility and participation.  Larger corporates often have highly specialised teams and more rigid hierarchical structures not easily conducive to these concerns.  Medium enterprises might therefore be currently in a better position right now to meet Gen Y’s career needs.

How do I connect with graduates and interns?

Alice Watkins will be pleased to assist First 5000 medium businesses to engage with UTS graduates and interns and can be contacted on 02 9514 2106, email


Alice Watkins is currently responsible for SME engagement at the UTS Careers Service.  She has been involved with employer engagement and internship programs at UTS for over ten years and has lectured in management and marketing.  Alice holds an MBA from Edinburgh University, Scotland, and also has tertiary qualifications in Psychology, Higher Education and Organisational Behaviour. Contact Alice via email