As university students gear up for their first semester they are often preoccupied with class timetables, bar night on campus and for some, a new place to live. However, this can also be the time students embark on their first serious job hunt.
An employer seeking to recruit new staff may favour a candidate who already has university qualifications or relevant work experience, yet there can be advantages in employing undergraduates. Elissa Lippiatt, Associate at Ecovis Clark Jacobs, believes her workplace has benefited from hiring undergraduates.
“I have found that undergraduates are usually highly motivated, keen to learn and enthusiastic about their chosen career. As everything is new they aren’t afraid of change, such as using new software programs and adopting new office processes.”
Ecovis Clark Jacobs actively seeks talented commerce and accounting students, and hired two new undergraduates at the start of 2015. “Cadetships and undergraduate programs are embraced by high achievers and this is a great time to hire them”, says Elissa. “Although working in their field of study isn’t something all students think to do – or want to do – those who chose this option enjoy implementing what they learn at university in the workplace. They also recognise that the skills they are learning at work help with their study.”
When hiring undergraduates, Ecovis Clark Jacobs staff look for certain traits. “An interest in learning new things is important, as well as an interest in their chosen career”, says Elissa. “We also look for a great attitude: someone who is happy to work in a team and to help out wherever needed.”
Elissa found her own experience as an undergraduate extremely valuable. “The firm that I started with was incredibly welcoming of undergraduates. Everything was new and I quickly realised how much I didn’t know, but what I learned at work definitely gave more relevance to my studies.”
“Creating a supportive environment for undergraduates is key to their success in your business. The best situation is where each team member – regardless of level – is encouraged to help train and answer the cadet’s questions. I certainly had this support.”
Early in her career Elissa was also fortunate to be mentored by a director of her firm, who invested a large amount of time teaching her in both a technical and professional capacity.
“Working in my chosen field whilst studying gave me a huge head-start in developing both technical ability and confidence. I completed a double degree so essentially ended up working professionally five years earlier than my peers.”
For employers thinking of introducing an undergraduate program, Elissa believes it is certainly worth considering. “Undergraduates haven’t sat through years of theoretical knowledge and so don’t enter the workplace with preconceived ideas. Their technical abilities are initially lacking but they compensate with other skills. It’s amazing to see the solutions they come up with when problem-solving, and it’s really rewarding to help develop and hone talent.”
For information on employment at Ecovis Clark Jacobs visit our Careers page.