Why are so many grads choosing startups?

More and more graduates are swapping corporate grad schemes for jobs with a challenger brand. Graduates just like Georgia, who found her first role in a startup through our team at Young Foodies Talent.

We spoke to Georgia to get the low-down from on why startups appeal to grads, and her best advice for those looking to begin their startup journey.

Why are so many grads choosing startups? 1


Ask any student heading into start their final year at university, and they’ll likely tell you that their greatest concern is finding a job before they graduate. It’s a worthy cause for worry: most larger businesses open their graduate programme applications between September and November, and during those months it can feel like an (often hopeless) race against thousands of others, all equally as qualified, and desperate to be given a chance. No matter how many hobbies you mention in your application, it can be hard to make your CV stand out enough to progress to the final stages of the application.


In 2017, there were 14 million university graduates in the UK, and this number continues to increase. So it’s only natural that graduates are looking for new ways to enter the job market. But apart from grad schemes, what are the other options? Most jobs require relevant work experience, which many graduates don’t have and aren’t able to find, as internships can be just as competitive.


For many, startups are the answer, and this is reflected in the growing number of job websites specifically aiming pages at entry-level graduate startup roles. Not only does their growing number and the reduced competition mean that startups offer greater chances for application success, but there are plenty of other reasons why many grads see a startup environment as preferable to that of a larger company. Indeed, a smaller and less corporate culture can seem more familiar and welcoming to those fresh out of university. (See this article, where we explore the benefits of working in a startup.)


But with over 600,000 startups created each year, the search for your dream role can also seem overwhelming. At Young Foodies, we aim to make it easier for grads to find roles within startups. Our team People & Recruitment have created a dedicated Grad Portal, which shares information about entry-level opportunities within our community of food & drink startups, as well as offering application tips, information about key roles, and industry updates.

We caught up with one of our grads, Georgia, to find out why startups have such a growing appeal. Georgia landed a startup marketing role through our Graduate Programme, so we sought her advice for those looking to build a career after university…


Searching for the perfect graduate job

“I started looking for grad roles early on in final year because I felt a lot of pressure to secure something before I left the safety net of university. Looking back now, that was a big mistake. I think as a student, you either know exactly what you want to do, or you have no idea at all, and so, pushing yourself to find something for the sake of it just isn’t a good idea.”


It’s easy to get caught up in the frantic search and spend countless hours applying for as many jobs as possible. Instead…

“Take the time after university to reflect on what you’re interested in. Explore your options and talk to people from a wide variety of sectors… there’s a big pressure to rush into a grad scheme, which may not be for everyone.”

Avoid the rush, and take some time to figure out how your skills, interests, and experience could apply to a career. Direct some of that frantic energy into learning about the various sectors and roles that are out there. This won’t just save you time by narrowing down your search, but all that industry research will pay off during your application. (And hopefully, interview!)

Why are so many grads choosing startups? 2


Searching for the perfect grad job can feel a bit like this. Take your time: figure out what you want. 

What have you learnt about working in a startup?


“I’ve learnt that no two days are the same, and that working at a fast, reactive pace is necessary… being part of a start-up means that everyone on the team is so involved in every aspect of the business. It’s been amazing to have my ideas heard from day one and be able to use my creativity to thrive in this role.”


The phrase “fast-paced” inevitably crops up a lot in any conversation about startup careers. For many, especially grads looking to quickly gain as much work experience as possible, this can be a real advantage. Within a few weeks, you’ll have been exposed to, and involved in, far more than many of those on a traditional grad scheme.


“Organisation is key. As everything is so fast-paced, it’s really important to keep on top of things. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when there are so many things to look into or consider that managing your time and ideas effectively can really help to keep a clear mindset.”


For many, a graduate role will offer a first insight into managing a hefty to-do list. Experiment with time management strategies even before you start: this will also be a valuable skill to talk about in an interview.


“It’s a really overwhelming transition leaving university and becoming an ‘adult’ but it’s been so much easier knowing how supportive my new team are and how exciting the job is!”


There are few places you’ll find team dynamics as strong as in a startup. Many of those moving from large companies to startups do so for precisely this reason, as well as to escape those “small cog in a big machine” feelings. The familial atmosphere of startups appeals to many grads, who are especially aware of their own lack of experience and need for support.


(These strong team dynamics are something to bear in mind when applying. Interviewers will be especially sensitive to your personality and working style, as they’ll need to consider how well you’ll fit into their small team.)

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Working as part of a small team is an inevitable part of any startup role.

How to find your dream startup role

“After getting in touch with Young Foodies, I really felt like I’d found my niche and the kind of job I was passionate about… You opened so many doors that I didn’t know were available to me.”

The job market is a big place, and there’ll always be parts you haven’t covered. But that’s why we’re here. On our Grad Portal you’ll find all our entry-level opportunities within food & drink startups in one place.

While relevant knowledge and experience isn’t (understandably) not common among grads, it remains extremely important to employers. This is especially the case in a startup, where many founders don’t have direct experience in the industry themselves. For this reason, some presume that startups are off-limits to grads. While this may be the case for more senior roles, many startups look for entry-level candidates too.

While an interviewer won’t expect anywhere near as much knowledge for these roles, they will expect you to know the basics. That’s why, we spent the first two days of our Grad Programme explaining the ins and outs of key roles within startups, and well as recent trends within the industry.

Why are so many grads choosing startups? 4


Young Foodies Grad Programme, August 2019

We’ve seen first-hand the level of energy and talent that grads possess. It harmonises perfectly with the innovation and drive we see in many food & drink challenger brands. It only makes sense that more grads are looking for their first role within startups, and that’s exactly why we created our Grad Portal.

If you would you like to be considered for new roles, join our talent pool here. Alternatively, keep up to date with industry news and latest roles and insights by signing up to our talent newsletter.

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