March 18, 2014, by Beth Dawson

Supersized opportunities in small businesses

Did you know one in three graduates from The University of Nottingham goes on to work in a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)?  We asked Nottingham graduates Alex and Matt to share their insights about what it’s like working as analysts in an SME.

They are both working for the HD Decisions, after graduating in 2013 with degrees in mathematics. Alex began working in the loans team for the technology and analytics company in October 2013 and Matt joined the cards team four months later. 

What we do

Our day-to-day work involves engaging with price comparison websites and major lenders, as well as monitoring ongoing performance throughout the company and communicating this back to the team.

Lenders will often come to us with requests for ad hoc analysis or changes to their website and products, and it’s up to us to implement these in a timely manner.

At a growing company like HD Decisions, new projects are been established all the time and these require extensive testing, before and after release, for which we’re responsible.

Being part of a growing company

There is flexibility in our job roles, giving us exposure to different areas of the company as well as the chance to collaborate with other teams on big projects where we can voice our ideas which can really impact the direction these projects take.

Although there is less formal training compared to what might be on offer at some larger companies, the community atmosphere of the company means that there is always someone willing to take time out to help.

We are often expected to take the initiative, with greater responsibility and less of a ‘safety net’ if things go wrong. This can translate to added pressure, but equally promotes diligence and professionalism. It can also instil a great sense of accomplishment when you see the results of your work in the public arena.

In an expanding SME, there is great potential for career development and our experience of working closely with senior members of the team has helped us to learn and develop quickly. Here are just two examples of the projects and successes we’ve had in our roles so far:

Alex: In recent weeks, I have run a workshop focusing on improving the efficacy and clarity of one of our tools on a major price comparison website. The project provided an opportunity to step away from the numerical aspect of analysis and provided a platform for everyone to give their ideas and insights.

Matt: Within my first two months, I have streamlined the process by which we absorb changes into one of our systems. This was an excellent hands-on experience, giving me the chance to contribute to the performance of the company while developing my knowledge and learning new skills.

Our advice to you…

This might sound obvious, but make sure you tailor your CV and covering letter for the job you’re applying for. So many people send out the same CV for every job they apply for, sometimes with no covering letter, and wonder why they don’t hear back.

Research the companies you’re applying to: it will impress any interviewer if you can show knowledge and interest in what the company does, particularly when applying for a role in an SME. For example, we both explored the HD Decisions pre-qualification tool and realised its amazing potential.

Don’t wait until you’re about to graduate before you start thinking about your future. It may not seem like your top priority when exams are around every corner, but an hour or two off to go to one of the many careers events at the University may be the spark that helps you realise your future career path.

If you want to find out more about working in an SME, visit our work options webpages or find out what opportunities with local businesses we have available through our Summer Internships Scheme. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to hear about the latest opportunities or book an appointment with a careers adviser through My Career for more advice about working in an SME and entry routes in these companies.

Posted in Alumni StoriesApplying For JobsEmployer InsightsGraduate VacanciesWork experience