My name is Alecia and I’m one of the newest Development Officers at Rise Up – Newcastle University’s student enterprise team. I have experience across FE and HE in supporting students starting their own businesses and enhancing enterprise within the curriculum. I’ve got a keen interest in the psychology of education, having recently undertook an MSc in Psychology.
One of the key parts of my role is encouraging students within the Faculty of Medical Sciences to consider self-employment and building enterprise skills. There are some brilliant examples of students from the medical faculty who we have supported in starting their own business – Geeky Medics, Beauty by the Geeks and Medics2Mongolia are but to name a few!
“But wait”, I hear you say, “what does starting a business have to do with students in the medical faculty”?
A lot more than you think! Below I outline some myths often held by medical sciences students…
Myth #1 – Business has nothing to do with my career in Science
It’s true to say that most of the best businesses solve problems; and since Science is inherently about problem solving, it’s easy to see how the two marry. Increasingly, employers are looking for more than just subject-knowledge (i.e. a high grade). Most science-careers require business acumen in some way to be successful; from running a dental practice and ensuring you recruit and retain enough patients, to pitching for further funding for your research project. Think about how GPs are now increasingly in charge of NHS budgets. Having a knowledge of how a business works would undoubtedly make you stand out from the crowd.
Myth #2 – Enterprise definitely has nothing to do with my career in Science:
Enterprise is different to solely starting a business. Enterprise is about using skills, creativity and resources in an effective way to undertake whatever it is you’re doing. Being able to demonstrate enterprise skills – work experience, entering career-relevant enterprise competitions, events and activities – are all ways of evidencing skills that employers within your field are looking for. With companies still feeling the pinch of the economic climate (yes, I too tire of hearing that phrase), graduates need to demonstrate a wide skill set, adaptability to change, and experience in solving real-life problems.
Myth #3: Working for an SME (small-medium sized business) would be a poor trade-off for working within a national/international corporation:
In addition to challenging economic times (is that phrase any better?), the tendency to require team members to take on more responsibility is even more apparent in smaller businesses. This results in gaining more experience, and having more say in what happens, than a counterpart in a larger firm. What could be more of an attractive prospective at the start of your career? Additionally, although I don’t have the stats to support this, I have heard on several occasions that larger corporations are so competitive to get into, they don’t always necessarily need to provide the higher graduate salaries, unlike smaller corporations who are keen to attract bright graduates. However, before venturing down the SME route, bare in mind that it’s crucial to be able to show that you have the all-rounded skills and experience they’re looking for.
Now that I have you thinking a little bit more about the importance of why you as a science student should be thinking about enterprise, below are just some of the support Rise Up provide for undergraduates, postgraduates and graduates of Newcastle University:
- Drop-in sessions in The Elevator, Kings Gate to discuss your enterprise ideas
- The NCL Apprentice Enterprise Competition – is a great way to build important transferable skills. It starts on February 18th – sign up here.
- Enterprise Events – We run Skills and Speakers Series where you can learn more about an area of business from an expert. In fact, we have a member of the Science City team speaking on 24th February about the importance of marketing. Would be great to see you there!
If you’ve got an idea – get in touch! It would be great to hear from you. I can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org/ 0191 208 5567