Aston Business School is known not only in the Midlands but nationally for the breadth and quality of support provided to SMEs and to start-up and scale-up businesses. This was the first specific SME-focussed exhibition held in what will become a regular series, offering students the opportunity to explore alternatives to graduate recruitment roles in larger firms.
Amelia Ladbrook of Simkiss Guy, winners of Small Business of the Year at the recent Birmingham Awards 2015, spoke at the event. Amelia is also Chair of BPS Aspire, a networking and personal development organisation for those in education or their first year of professional employment or training.
Amelia is passionate about small business and shared with the students how a career in the sector could offer them enormous benefits.
Professor George Feiger, Executive Dean of Aston Business School, talked about the ambitions of Aston’s students. He explained:
“Our students are very aware that it is possible for both placement students and graduates to take on greater responsibility, gain experience of a broader range of business functions and progress their careers faster in a smaller enterprise than in a larger one.
Both their ambitions and our enthusiastic support of them and of the business community is attested to by the fact that the QS Graduate Employability Rankings for last year placed us 12th out of the 130 or so Universities in the UK in terms of attractiveness to employers.”
The exhibitors attending ranged from start-up companies to well-established Midlands-based SMEs, with all seeking to fill internship or graduate vacancies. Some of the exhibitors, like Cleo Morris, owner of MarketingMaker, were alumni of BSEEN, an Aston University led enterprise start-up programme.
Karampreet Brom of Santander, who had a stand at the event, said:
“Thank you for inviting me to the SME event, it was so great to see the number of students and companies that attended the event – it was very well organised and I had some great feedback from students.”
The almost 150 students who attended found the experience very worthwhile, being able to speak face-to-face with an enormous variety of possible employers. In fact, 89% of attendees saying they now thought they were likely to work for an SME in their placement year or post-graduation, rather than a larger corporate organisation.
Aston Business School (www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school)
BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network) http://www.b-seen.biz/
BSEEN offers students and graduates a great package of intensive start-up support for new ventures. Successful participants benefit from a variety of workshops, networking opportunities, tailored mentoring, grant and work space at Innovation Birmingham Campus, Birmingham Science Park Aston.
BSEEN, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is a collaborative initiative between Aston University, University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University.