Information for small and medium sized enterprises

With the city centre and its flourishing businesses in close proximity to the University of Birmingham, many of our students want to gain practical experience within small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) during their time here.

Our students can move your business forward

The University of Birmingham was established as a civic university in 1900 and the first in the UK to develop a Faculty of Commerce. We have a long history of working with local businesses and a foundation of diverse students from across all backgrounds with 77% of our students coming from the state sector.

We recognise that SMEs may have limited time, resources and budget for recruitment compared with larger organisations. This is why the Employer Relations Team at Careers Network have developed a range of services and opportunities to help connect you to our student and graduate talent.

Expand each section below to find out more about the variety of ways in which you can engage with our students.

Vacancy Advertising

Advertise your vacancies free of charge using our Careers Connect online jobs portal.

Careers Connect is a one-stop portal where our students and graduates can access job vacancies, book events and appointments.

Even with the availability of search engines, popular job search websites and LinkedIn, Careers Connect is still one of the top resources our students turn to when job hunting. 

If you are looking for additional promotion of your vacancies take a look at our e-newsletter service and how to engage with our followers on social media.

Recruitment Fairs

We run several careers fairs throughout the year including:

  • Autumn Fair
  • Engineering, Science and Technology Fair
  • Business, Finance and Consultancy Fair
  • Law Fair
  • Internships and Work Experience Fair

For more information about each fair, visit our Recruitment fairs page. 

Employer Insights Series (recruitment events)

Our employer-led events series titled ‘Employer Insights' offers you the opportunity to meet with our students on campus or virtually to share insights into your organisation, your industry sector and tell students what it’s like to work for a smaller organisation and the benefits it brings. Sessions could include:

  • what you are looking for in an application
  • what your recruitment plans are
  • opportunities for the coming year
  • what differentiates you from your competition

For more information, visit our Employer Insights page.

Insight Into Series (panel and networking events)

Throughout the academic year, we run a series of panel and networking events for our students to explore different roles within a themed sector with alumni and industry speakers talking about their early career experiences to now.

This series has been popular with SMEs looking to increase their brand awareness on campus for recruitment.

For more information, visit our Sector events page. If you have further questions or are interested in participating in one of our events, please contact the Employer Relations Team at

Impact Challenge (project)

The Impact Challenge is a unique opportunity for our students from a widening participation background to gain invaluable work experience that contributes to supporting their career journey, and enhancing the business prospects of local employers. 

This involves working in small groups on a particular project that is set by a local employer, where each group then presents back their output(s) at the end of the week. 

To find out more about past projects and how your organisation can get involved, visit our Impact Challenges page or contact Danny Mall, Widening Participation Employability Officer


Mentoring is a great opportunity for students to gain real insight into their chosen industry from a professional currently working in that same area. 

Becoming a mentor can develop you professionally, provide an opportunity to reflect on your experiences and skills, and gain an insight into the future graduate talent. Now is a great time to find out how you can benefit from mentoring and inspire students to unlock potential.

You can also find out more about what becoming a mentor involves and what others have to say about their mentoring experience on our Mentoring page.

Bespoke internships and funding

Grow your business by recruiting interns from a pool of talented students and graduates who want to make an impact through our B-Experienced Internships Programme. 

  • You will get bespoke support from a member of the Internships Team to build your role and receive advice and guidance throughout the recruitment process.
  • The team will arrange targeted promotion of your role to ensure that we connect you with the most suitable candidates.
  • You will get access to a diverse pool of candidates from a wide range of disciplines, including our postgraduate community and recent graduates.
  • You will have the opportunity to work with emerging talent from the University of Birmingham and help to support our students’ career development through practical work experience and mentorship.

If funding is a barrier to recruitment for you, please get in touch following your expression of interest to discuss options. Funding available will be prioritised to local SMEs, start-ups, social enterprises, third sector and public sector employers, and it will be awarded via bursaries paid directly to the intern by the university.

For more information, please see the B-Experienced Internship Programme page.

Why recruit a graduate?

  • Skills and productivity. Graduates possess a combination of strong skills gained from study and their broader university experience
  • New perspectives. Graduates will bring new ideas and the perspectives of the next generation 
  • Helping you drive change. Graduates are used to researching and working things out. They won’t be ‘set in their ways’ and can lend valuable support to change or new projects
  • Diversity. Graduates can help you with diversity of thought and to support your social aims
  • Management experience. Managing a recent graduate can be motivating and a good experience for existing team members who may not be ready to manage a large group of experienced employees
  • Succession. Bringing in people early in their careers provides succession for people that you already have, helping you promote existing team members.

Understanding the competition

  • About 500,000 undergraduates graduate each year in the UK, with a further 300,000 postgraduates completing further study.  (
  • A challenge for SMEs is that the majority of students, throughout their time at university, say that they would prefer to work for a large company. Large employers that offer a graduate scheme are often seen by students as offering the best and most prestigious roles. 
  • But this doesn’t mean smaller organisations can’t recruit brilliant graduates in high numbers. Only a relatively small proportion of our graduates actually join a large employer graduate scheme, as most are limited in number.
  • Students’ preference for working within SMEs is influenced by degree stage (i.e. whether the individual is a graduate; nearing graduation; or in the earlier stages of their degree). The further a student is along their degree programme, the more attractive SMEs become as potential employers: at the point when students approach the end of study and start making applications, preference for SMEs has increased to 47%.
  • When asked about their preferred size of small organisations, students ranked them from larger to smaller: 51 to 250 employees, 11 to 50 employee, 1 to 10 employees. So, the smaller you are the more you will need to consider your approach to attraction.* 


Graduate hire

This is simply hiring a graduate into a full-time, part-time or fixed term role as you would when hiring into any position in your organisation.

Graduates will expect a salary, an employment contact and all other rights under employment laws as applicable in the relevant country of work. More information on UK contracts of employment and working hours can be found on the government website.

You can advertise your vacancy to our students and graduates up to two years post-graduation free of charge using our Careers Connect online jobs portal. 

Year in industry (sandwich year)

Some of our programmes encourage students to take a year out to work for an organisation, also known as a “sandwich year”, to form part of their overall university experience.

This not only gives our students an advantage in developing their workplace skills whilst at university but also gives businesses an additional resource for up to 12 months on projects such as marketing campaigns, initiating new policies, or developing a new team.

Subject areas which offer opportunities for Year in Industry include:

  • Business Management
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering (Chemical, Civil, Electronic and Electrical, Mechanical)
  • Mathematics

Students are expected to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or salary pro rata during this time with a fixed-term contract.

You can advertise your vacancy to our students and graduates up to two years post-graduation free of charge using our Careers Connect online jobs portal.

For more information, please contact our Internships and Work Experience Team

Internships and work experience

Offering internships and work experience opportunities does not only provide you with the chance to train and inspire the future workforce, but it can also give you the opportunity to bring fresh new perspectives and ideas into your teams. Our talented students and graduates are passionate and eager to learn, and by recruiting from University of Birmingham you’ll tap into a pool of knowledgeable candidates who can bring value to your organisation.

Internships typically last 1 to 6 months, can be full-time or part-time and can be offered to a student or recent graduate. This is also a perfect opportunity for our students who don’t have the option to undertake a Year in Industry to undertake a summer internship or in some cases, a part-time internship during term time if their timetable allows. 

We ask for our employer partners to pay at National Minimum Wage or higher for the duration of the internship.

Careers Network is working with employers to create bespoke internship opportunities available exclusively to  UoB students and recent graduates through the B-Experienced Internship Programme. If funding is a barrier to recruitment for you, please get in touch following your expression of interest in the programme to discuss options.  The funding available will be prioritised to local SMEs, start-ups, social enterprises, third sector and public sector employers via bursaries paid directly to the intern by the university.

You can also advertise any vacancies free of charge using our Careers Connect online jobs portal, which is available to all our students and graduates up to two years post-graduation.

For more information, please contact our Internships Team

Professional Placements

Professional placements differ from internships, in that students gain credits towards their course on completion.

Placements are usually short project assignments for a minimum of 40 hours, either in a full-time capacity during the summer vacation, or part-time during term-time. 

Typical placements include:

  • Research into the most effective ways for an organisation to market its services to potential partner organisations
  • Research into the impact of public policy into a specific industry sector
  • Research project into the most effective use of social media for an organisation

For more information about students who are eligible for placements or to propose a placement, contact the Professional Development Team

For more information and details for different types of work experience our students seek, please visit our FAQs and Resources page.