Why should you get involved with student enterprises?
Student enterprises help you engage with industry during your degree, giving you a head-start when you graduate. Different companies work in different ways – some employ students directly, some help students to set up their own companies, and some integrate industry projects into the degree curriculum. Some companies only employ students from a specific university, where others will employ students from anywhere.
In all these cases, your local student enterprise is there to help you improve your employability and propel your career forward.
"[working in a student enterprise is] a great way to start your journey from university to the world of work and has a fun and friendly atmosphere to work in."
– Student developer at Beautiful Canoe
As well as honing your technical skills, working with a student enterprise will help you develop new skills that will help you in any workplace. You will be meeting with real clients, working with them to develop solutions to their business problems, developing product requirements, working to an agile (or other modern) development process and presenting your own work back to the client. All the while, being supported by industry and subject experts.
Many student enterprises will also offer additional opportunities, eg coaching or training, which can directly benefit your career.
If you have ever wanted to know what it's like to work in the digital industry, or which roles would be a good fit for you, working with a student enterprise is a great way to find out. You won't regret it!
What are the potential benefits of student enterprises?
Gain industry experience
By working in a student enterprise, you will gain concrete work experience, in addition to your degree qualification. You will be working with people from digital industries, putting your academic learning into practice in an industry context, with the support of subject experts.
Kick-start your job or placement search
Having contacts in industry will give you a huge advantage when you start looking for work. If you want to be the first to know about new job vacancies, working with a student enterprise will give you a head-start.
Solving real problems, in a supportive environment, will give you a whole new perspective on the skills you are learning in your degree. Working with real clients, and industry experts will be a huge boost to your confidence and open up new horizons in your career.
Beautiful Canoe was set up in 2013 by academics at Aston University, as they had seen that there was a need to give students real experience of delivering software to clients and users.
Genesys was designed as an opportunity for software engineering students to experience what it’s like in a real-work working environment as part of the academic curriculum.
The Sheffield Startup Summer
The Sheffield Startup Summer provides students with an opportunity to focus on practising, and reflecting on Lean Startup processes over three weeks.
How can I get involved?
There is never a bad time to get involved with your local student enterprise! You will need to choose from those student enterprises that are available (eg local) to you. It may be helpful to ask:
Will you be employed and paid?
Will you be involved as part of your studies/curriculum? Will you earn marks?
Are there opportunities for you to start a business of your own?
If you are considering specific companies, try to get a good feel for the culture and values of the company from their website, and the sort of clients they have. Again, it might be helpful to ask:
Are they a very formal company, or do they have a relaxed culture? Which might suit you best now and for a future career?
Do they specialise in a particular industry, or do they operate more like a consultancy?
Would you be working with them in one of your modules? Or when can you apply for vacancies?
You can find out where your nearest student enterprises are here and read some more about them.
"Don't overthink it, if you're doubting your technical skills don't worry because you build on it slowly, slowly, and you get support if you don't know how to do something."
– Student developer at Beautiful Canoe
Take the initiative and send in a CV – you never know what might come out of it!
Discover student enterprises near you
Student enterprises help you engage with industry during your degree, giving you a head-start when you graduate.