Why I would recommend working at an SME!

Written by SALC Employability Champion Abi Bowden


Last summer I undertook a two-month internship at an SME (Small or Medium-sized Enterprise). Not only was it a helpful glimpse into the working world, but it helped me to understand the advantages of working in a smaller company. In this blog post, I will explain all the advantages I saw while undertaking the internship! 


One of the perks I saw was how SMEs can carve out a particular niche within their sector. For me, this meant working in an interesting combination of events, careers, and education, something I would never have known existed! In the UK, there are 5.6 million SMEs, found in every single industry. This means that there are companies that cater to a range of specialist and niche needs. This provides an exciting opportunity to be able to work somewhere that combines multiple of your interests and skill sets.  


Furthermore, as these companies are a lot smaller, there are more opportunities for promotion. This is due to a combination of fewer internal candidates competing for roles and management being more involved, and thus are more able to see potential and talent better. Within the company I worked at, many of the employees had started out as graduates and had worked their way up into higher-up roles in the company. Due to the smaller scale of operations, often people are able to work their way up to management positions quicker, which provides transferable skills that can be taken to other companies.  


In my opinion, one of the best perks is that within SMEs, you get to multi-role! With less staff, employees often get a wider portfolio of tasks and may take up additional roles when needed. This is particularly helpful if, like me, you’re not entirely sure what you want to do after you graduate. Undertaking multiple roles helps you to expand your skill set and gain experience in different types of jobs, helping you to get a better understanding of what you enjoy and what you’re good at, which helps in making future career steps! 


However, my absolute favourite part of working in an SME is that you can get to know everyone in the company. By the end of two months, I knew everyone working in the organisation, which made me feel part of a team and thus more more invested in the company. Furthermore, through being on a smaller nature, and not lost in a big company, you do feel really valued and that you are playing an important role within the organisation. 


However, one of the downsides of SMEs is that they are generally less well-known by students. This is often because they don’t have the available manpower to go to events like Career Fairs or recruitment events, and don’t typically run big graduation schemes. Also, as they are, by definition, small, they are mostly likely not household names. This just means that you might have to do more work to find them!  


However, don’t worry, as help is at hand! The Manchester Careers Service is an invaluable asset. If you need help in finding out what niches you are interested in exploring, or want to chat about your next steps, you can schedule a one-to-one appointment with an advisor. They also have a lot of resources on their website, such as how to build a network, which is a valuable asset in order to help find companies you are interested in.  


Furthermore, if you want to find opportunities to work at an SME, use Career Connect! Don’t do what I did! To find my internship, I typed in “summer,” “internship,” and “London” into Indeed and scrolled through dozens of unhelpful and irrelevant options until I found a needle in a haystack. Career Connect, however, has many good quality opportunities that have been vetted and are aimed at students and graduates.  


Career Connect 



More information on SMEs!  



Tips on Networking!