You’ve heard of Post-Graduate Positions, but allow me to introduce you to Pre-Graduate Positions, a compelling and effective dimension that the Northwest-based market research company, BEAM Fieldwork, has added to their workforce.
Now, I’m sure that the first question on everyone’s mind is “but to what ends?” because, after all, a world where a teenager can become the CEO of a major company while juggling a Psychology degree does not seem like a world that anyone wants to live in (unless you’re the teenage CEO, of course). All jokes aside, as one of BEAM Fieldworks Pre-Graduate Employees, I can tell you that they certainly do not place the entire weight of the company on our backs.
In fact, BEAM Fieldwork’s youngest employee (who is in just his second year of college as I write this), Luis Kehoe, describes his role as Fieldwork Support to have “a relaxed working environment with the perfect workload”. Although, I’m sure that the Project Managers and Executives would agree when I say that the completion of this “perfect workload” alleviates tonnes from their plate. UK Senior Project Manager, Collette Gartside, even described Luis to have a “calming presence” when it comes to the everyday stresses of work.
Of course, every job is transactional; you do the work, the company pays you, and every now and then you get to complete some training which benefits both parties in the long run. However, in my role, I like to think that our transactional relationship goes a little deeper than this. As a gap-year-project, I became trained in Proofreading and Copyediting, and am currently studying an English Literature and Philosophy degree at Lancaster University alongside my job. This means that the business is able to have the skills of a Copyeditor on their team without the price tag, and I am able to leave University with the ever-so-desired three years of experience (if all goes to plan) in my chosen field.
Working here also gives me cool writing and editing opportunities – like this blog – and I pinch myself every day that someone is willing to pay me to do what I love.
The flexibility that the business offers employees like myself is immense. They’ve set me up with all the kit and tec that I could possibly need to work remotely, and provide endless adjustability when it comes to fitting work around my studies – even if it means working outside of the standardised office-hours.
When asked about the flexibility BEAM Fieldwork provides to their Pre-Graduate Employees, Head of Operations, Kay Middleton, said that:
“Their working pattern may change, but their enthusiasm, dedication, and appetite to learn certainly does not. No matter the challenge, they’re eager to take it on, soak in all the training tips and tricks, and are brilliant at applying it to new scenarios. They pick-up where the client-facing team log-off, continuing to engage and recruit in the hours which often better suit our respondents. There’s no better feeling than opening up a respondent grid to find it fully recruited (to spec) with a covering note detailing everything you need to know about who’s taking part and why our clients will love them”.
Sounds ideal right? And it really is, but everything isn’t always all glitz and glamour (you’d be naive to think it was). Pre-Grads, like me, slot nicely into the role of Fieldwork Support, which essentially entails being assigned to ANY team and ANY project, and can involve anything from recruitment, to admin, to pre-checks, to answering queries, and much more. This can leave you in a state of constant adjustment – you need to quickly acclimate to different clients, different projects, and different roles – and often means that you don’t get to see a project all the way through from beginning to end. Nevertheless, this certainly doesn’t take away the satisfaction of seeing a project that you have personally worked on go live to the customer or pop up in the press.
Recently, I’ve been getting out in the field more and exploring some of what goes on outside the (cosy, warm, comfortable) office. I trained to be an on-street-interviewer a while ago and is something I’ve been dipping my toe into since I turned 18, but I don’t think I truly got to grips with the complexities of it until recently. It’s fascinating how big of a difference just the smallest of details can make: how broad your smile is, how it can’t be too big and definitely can’t be too small; how the first five words that come out of your moth truly matter the most, how the way you say them probably matters even more; how what you wear can such drastically shift the demographic that are willing to stop and chat, how the way you carry yourself can matter equally as much; and most importantly how many amazing people you can meet by taking that little bit of extra time to ask about their day.
By pure luck, when out in the field, I’ve met anyone from podcasters, to big business owners, to avid travellers, and selfless volunteers, but none of that can top the wonderful people that I encounter daily whenever I come home from university and step back into the office.
Whilst there is organisational structure at BEAM Fieldwork, there’s also accessibility to all levels. I’ll head into the office and sit just two desks across from the Founder and Director of BEAM Fieldwork, Amy Middleton, where she will personally brief me on any projects she needs help with that day. If there is something I feel even slightly unsure on, I know that whatever question I approach her with will be answered with great humility and, most importantly, a total absence of judgement. If you move just a couple more desks across, you’ll find Growth Manager, Rachel Perera, who recently featured on the BBCs ‘Money Box Live: How to get a Pay-rise’, and Senior Project Manager, Alicia Whyatt who started in the company as a Project Executive and has risen through the ranks to now run her own team.
When you consider all the benefits (business and employee alike) that come along with balancing work and study, it’s no wonder that the concept of Pre-Graduate Positions is starting to expand. In fact, when Kay Middleton received the recommendation of a “super switched-on” placement team member that was looking for some interesting work in her final year of university, Kay jumped at the chance to get her on board. This led to latest hire, Emma Walker, who is working on a HUGE project and says that she’s “really enjoying getting out of (her) comfort zone”.
That’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? The idea of leaving your comfort zone at work; of always feeling a little unsure, of being challenged all the time, of not always quite knowing what can come next, and still knowing that – despite all of this – you need to get the job done and get it done well.
As an employer it must be a little daunting too, knowing that progress can come at the cost of mistakes, and ensuring rigour in the process to minimise their impact. But, underpinning all of this, are three key components that BEAM Fieldwork has down to a tee: mutual trust, mutual support, and mutual respect.
That’s why being a Pre-Graduate Employee at BEAM works so well; there are no stupid questions, no silly mistakes, and certainly not a single situation where you feel like you can’t reach out and ask for help. University is great and all, but I often feel that, when I leave a lecture hall and sit down in my office chair, I can still learn just as much.
Interested in learning more about pre-grad roles at BEAM Fieldwork? Drop your CV and covering email to firstname.lastname@example.org