Is big business missing out on graduates with entrepreneurial flair?

Nov 7, 2013

One of the skills that businesses look for in today’s graduate is the ability to be entrepreneurial.

It demonstrates an attitude of ambition and courage, the potential for resilience and the ability to use your own initiative.

Today’s businesses need gradates who are entrepreneurial. A graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit thinks about more than just doing a good job; he or she wants to create impact, great results and a good profit.

That’s exactly why businesses need and want them. Such graduates help a business to meet the demands of current and future change.

But with the increasing numbers of graduate start-ups, and the schemes and events to support them, are businesses missing out on the available talent pool?

Big companies missing out on entrepreneurial graduates

Tom Watson, who founded Kick Startup, a new type of careers fair aimed at entrepreneurial graduates and those who want fund them and to work for them, was employed at IBM before starting up on his own. He said that while he learned a lot at the company it lacked “atmosphere”.

He told the Independent: “My colleagues in computer science do not want to work for IBM. We want something interesting.”

Graduates are also drawn to working for younger startups, many of which have venture capitalists behind them, because they are “genuinely excited about what they do”, in contrast to the standard graduate recruiters you meet year after year at recruitment fairs.

His comments were supported by Alice Bentinck, co-founder of Entrepreneur First, who agreed that “traditional graduate routes are becoming increasingly irrelevant for the new generation”. She said graduates expect more than a “9-5 in a stuffy office”.

Many graduates who can’t get a job become entrepreneurs

There has been increasing evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit in UK graduates in recent years, and usually these graduates have only considered starting up alone as an option because they can’t get a job.

Many universities are setting up the type of events such as that taking place late November at Birmingham University, an event organised in response to “the recent surge in graduate entrepreneurial activity”.

It is a workshop to train students and tutors on how to capitalise on a profitable idea and is being run by business guru and former Dragons Den star Doug Richards.

Doug’s company creates education programmes, events and online support for budding entrepreneurs and has been named as a leading delivery partner for the Government’s Start Up loan scheme.

He’ll be showing graduates how to research an idea, access funding and find jobs.

Is big business flexible enough to compete?

A few months ago, Enternships, a company set up to offer graduates’ access to internships and work experience, told the Independent newspaper that “more and more graduates are reassessing their career options and looking for more entrepreneurial career paths” largely because it gives them the “ability to make an impact and have autonomy in their work”.

This is particularly true of the technology industry where the tech-savvy and bright can start up relatively cheaply.

“We expect to see more graduates, encouraged by seeing more and more of their peers starting business ventures, choosing to work for themselves, rather than fighting each other for existing vacancies,” said Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour.

These graduates are looking for challenge. They want to make a contribution and an impact. They want to care about their work. They want fast moving environments and they want to learn. They want a career path in which they have the opportunity to do all of this.

Entrepreneurial events backed by investors and graduate career fairs aimed at young entrepreneurs, such as Kick Startup and Silicon Milkroundabout, are attracting those with an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the equally talented graduates looking for work.

Big businesses are often too slow and set in their ways to respond as quickly as medium or small sized enterprise, but if they want to attract graduates with this skill, even big business like IBM will need to work harder.

Or they may just find themselves competing with these sparky, younger entrepreneurs in the global marketplace of tomorrow.

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