When asked “what do you want to do when you’re older?”, most young people will tell you that they have absolutely no idea. This response isn’t surprising, and it would probably be not too far away from the answer you’d get if you asked most professionals.
However, one thing that we all share, young or old, is that we want to experience the world, we want to try out different ideas, different careers and different ways of working. It’s because of this that so many young people are seeking internships and placements to get them started on the career ladder. Of course, work experience is a two way relationship, and companies stand to earn a lot from taking on young talent straight out of school.
The Accountancy Model
For a long time accountancy firms have led the field with youth recruitment and ‘Big Four’ firms have been taking on undergraduates for years. The normal practice is to issue a contract which includes a work experience element during a gap year and then offers support and work experience throughout university. After graduating, employees often rejoin.
The beauty of this model is that it takes in the top talent very early on and also provides these firms with an essential resource: a voice within a university. This can be a very powerful tool and can really help encourage applications.
Filling the Role
It’s not always easy to mould a role for a seventeen or eighteen year old in a company packed full of talented and motivated graduates, but it’s actually a wonderful opportunity to bring in fresh ideas. Even your average school leaver has the sort of social media knowledge that some SEO experts would die for, and often a clever head for marketing.
Of course, it’s important to interview stringently for such a role: it’s likely that your candidates will already be a step ahead of the competition just by virtue of having thought so far in advance about their careers, but a lot can change during university years. Trying to retain talent you take on is important, but if you select well and invest in their development you are likely to be rewarded.
Recruiting early can be a risky business, but it can also be immensely rewarding if you pick the right undergraduates. The important thing to remember is to treat very young recruits as an investment: don’t expect them to be perfect out of the box, but do hone their skills. Not only can they then act for you as a valuable marketing tool but they may even turn into fully-fledged, and exceptionally well trained, employees.
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