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Why work for an SME?

As you search for work experience, whether it is a placement, internship, or job; you will probably be instantly be drawn to the huge iconic companies such as ‘L’Oreal’, ‘Deloitte’ or ‘Disney’. Although these are all fantastic places to work and gain experience, have you ever considered applying to work for a Small-Medium-Enterprise?

Here’s some aspects you might not have considered…

  • You can make a big impact – Being a small fish in a big pond can be tough and, whilst you will contribute, you probably won’t make as much of an accountable impact to the company as a whole. With smaller SMEs you will be part of a much smaller team and so you will probably have more responsibility and your work will make a bigger difference, which can be very rewarding.
  • A simpler application process – Being smaller, SME’s often have a less lengthy application process, and so whilst still competitive, you are more likely to be given the opportunity to shine at interview.
  • More accessible – If you aren’t someone who wants to move for your placement, an SME might just be for images (12)you as there are plenty of opportunities local to Southampton which would mean you won’t have the hassle and expense of moving to another location.
  • Valuable experience – A placement at an SME is just as valuable as one at Coca Cola. It’s not where you do your placement, but what you do and what you make of it. Future employers look for skills and attributes you gain from a placement more than the size or reputation of the company itself.


If you are interested in working for an SME, we can help you out. Take a look at our Jobs board for current opportunities or pop in and see us for some advice!

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Your Placements Team x


Not just a ‘day job’…

Caroline is one of our students who is currently half-way through her placement with IBM. She gives us a little insight into what else she gets up to alongside her daily tasks…


At the beginning of my placement, I had fairly limited knowledge of the IBM (aside from knowing their 2013 revenue figure, having read the annual report relentlessly for interviews – needless to say that wasn’t the first thing they asked me about), so with very little idea as to what corporate life would be like, I tried to ignore the prospect of having a dull 9-5 office job.

7 months later and i’ve discovered that these preconceptions are very inaccurate, and no two days are ever the same. Although I love what I do as part of the PR team at IBM, and the work is constantly varying which always gives something new to try and learn, the variety of working life comes primarily from the 100+ interns working with me in the London Southbank office alone (300+ nationally). I count myself incredibly lucky to have this network of interns available in the office for entertainment when a break from ‘real work’ is needed, and consider it one of the best aspects of my placement year.

We were recently all together for a major IBM event, the Business & Developer Connect which was held at Twickenham Stadium last November. As interns, despite not being given the most glamorous jobs, the opportunity to spend time and work together (in this case 18 of us for 2 days) doing something outside our usual day jobs is well worth the effort involved in getting from opposite ends of London by 6.30m – no mean feat. The perks were definitely meeting Tim Henman & Will Greenwood!

Caroline post


Other good opportunities to make the most of placement year have been to get involved with “GiveBack”, something which IBM (and I would assume the majority of large companies) actively encourage. “GiveBack” is any charitable act to benefit anyone – which, as you can imagine, leaves a fairly substantial list of possibilities! For example, activities i’ve taken part in since joining have been:

  • Working on the University of Southampton careers fair stall
  • Running an IBM Graduate Assessment Centre
  • Teaching science experiments and cooking lessons to children at an autistic school (definitely the best day off work!)
  • Becoming a STEM Ambassador – helping to mentor girls to encourage careers in science, tech, engineering and maths (a slightly ironic role for me as, as a marketer, I was never a huge fan of the sciences).

Despite being a slightly random collection of extra-curricular activities, taking all the opportunities available has given me so much more variety and interest other than my normal day-to-day job, which is exactly what placement years should be about!

Your FBL Placements Team x