Student Perceptions Of Start-Ups

10 February, 2016
Sarah Lewis

Student Perceptions Of Start-Ups

10 February, 2016
Start Up Week - Graduate Jobs & Internships at Start-ups in London

We're sure you're all aware by now how passionate Instant Impact is about Start-up businesses, but we wanted to find out more about what students really think about working for one? Pernia Price, an Instant Impact Brand Ambassador, recently conducted a survey of students at the University of Oxford in order to gain some insights.

Here's what we found out:

On the whole, students spoke very positively about the idea of working at Start-up and Scale-up companies, which is obviously what we like to hear! Here's a quick taste of what students believe are the best bits:

  • Greater responsibility and industry-wide exposure.
  • The chance for everyone to get their ideas heard, from the newest joiner right through to the CEO.
  • Fun company culture, with the benefit of working alongside like-minded and highly motivated individuals.
  • More innovative work, often in ground-breaking new companies.

However, despite such glowing reviews for the benefits of working in Start-ups, it seems that many students are still more geared towards jobs in large companies.

For example, two thirds of Oxford students surveyed said they would rather work in a large corporate firm than a Start-up.  The remaining third of students said they would consider both options post-graduation, but not one student stated that their preference would be to join a Start-up. Given the fantastic benefits of small companies, we were certainly disappointed by these statistics.

The main reasoning behind this preference for large companies appeared to be perceived better formal training, greater job security and faster career progression. However, graduates working at Start-ups often benefit from promotions far earlier in their career than those on large graduate schemes, with many taking on a managerial role within their first year.

Thankfully, the majority of students surveyed did believe that working in Start-ups provides greater responsibility and deeper experience as well as a wider breadth of work.

So why are students more reluctant to work in Start-ups?

Well, all students surveyed agreed on one thing: Universities could do a lot more to encourage students to consider career opportunities in Start-ups. With such widespread promotion of large graduate schemes on campus, most students do not have an honest view of all the opportunities available to them after graduation.

But are these findings unique to Oxford?

Certainly not. The same survey was conducted at the University of Nottingham and the results were very similar. For instance, 80% of students said they would rather work for large corporate firms over start-ups.

Similar reasons were cited here too, with students saying that this was down to their feeling that large corporate firms provide greater job security and faster career progression.

Again, students suggested that more could be done to advertise career opportunities in Start-ups and increase discussion and awareness of the benefits of working in Start-ups across their university student base.

So what's next?

Well it seems clear that more needs to be done to educate students about the opportunities and benefits of working in small companies. It’s time for Universities and particularly Careers Services to re-evaluate their offering to students and make sure our top talent understands all the opportunities that are out there.


If you’re keen to find out more about working in Start-ups, then head over to our blog where you’ll find heaps of insightful content. Alternatively, if you’re already sold on the idea and now want to secure your first graduate role, why not check out our current Start-up vacancies?

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