I’m Caroline Pegden, the co-founder of TempaGoGo, a startup aiming at taking the pain away from temporary agency recruitment in the UK.
We have been delighted to have Tom Higgins Toon, a Modern Languages graduate from Selwyn College, Cambridge, as our Marketing and Operations Intern over the summer, kindly supported by the Santander SME Internships Programme.
I found out about the programme by chance, while looking to post our summer internship advert on the Cambridge University careers website. I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered the benefits!
1. Freeing up time while being funded
Recruiting Tom over the summer has been incredibly useful to increase our team’s work capacity and free up our time. Tom has been “holding the fort”, dealing with TempaGoGo‘s day-to-day business operations, whenever my co-founder, Phil Pegden, and I are away from the office, meeting with prospective investors and clients.
In true startup fashion, we have great ambitions, but limited financial means.
Finding out that half of Tom’s salary would be covered by the Santander SME programme was of course very appealing!
To be eligible to the programme’s funds, you need to pay your intern a weekly minimum of £306.25 per week. 40% of internships undertaken annually in the UK are unpaid – I think this is a laudable way to promote better recruitment practices when it comes to internships.
2. Finding great talent
99% of all businesses in the UK are SMEs with fewer than 250 employees. But, as a startup particularly, you are less known and have less financial means and capacity to promote your business in student career fairs. It makes it much harder to attract top graduates, even more so when it comes to Cambridge graduates, who are those most “courted” by the UK’s largest employers.
The Santander SME programme is fantastic at supporting small businesses in their recruitment. An internship can often lead to long-term career opportunities. It’s also a powerful vehicle to address some of the pre-conceived ideas students may have about what working life is like in a smaller company.
I was myself “lured” by large corporations at the start of my career — I wish such a programme existed back then! In hindsight, I feel that working in a smaller company gives students the opportunity to have a wider exposure to a variety of topics and departments (from marketing to finance and HR) – a mini MBA almost! As teams are smaller, students can be closer to the decision makers and have a real impact on the business’ outcomes.
3. Feeling good!
Tom has brought huge energy, enthusiasm, and a real eagerness to learn and deliver tangible results to our team.
It’s also been personally really rewarding for both Phil (an ex-Cambridge graduate himself) and I to be able to teach Tom new skills (both hard and soft), share our experience, and see him apply these skills practically over the course of the internship.
In a nutshell, I’m very thankful for the programme, and applying for the funds was remarkably straightforward and quick.
I wish that many more UK SMEs, startups and graduates could benefit from this opportunity in the future!