The rooted stereotype of the ‘lazy student’ is becoming more anachronistic by the year. With students facing bleak employment prospects and saddled with greater debt than ever before, undergraduates are filling less of their time in the student union and far more gaining vital experience of the jobs market.
Talented graduates are making heavy financial sacrifices to wedge their feet in corporate doors. The sorry state of the economy has afforded the country’s biggest organisations the luxury of being able to ‘try’ before they ‘buy’ or, at worst, cynically exploit the deepening well of cheap labour.
But with internships and work placements de rigour – Ratemyplacement.co.uk was established five years ago to inform the student population and ensure employers played ball by reviewing the experiences offered. Ratemyplacement insists that all advertised internships are paid. In turn, the fairer, more proactive employers attract the cream of graduate talent.
While the raft of start-ups attempting to seize a slice of the market to cater for the eager graduate community continues to swell, RateMyPlacement.co.uk goes from strength to strength.
By students for students
Founded by Oliver Sidwell, Ali Lindsay and Chris Wickson, who were still students at Loughborough University in 2007, the trio had experienced the lack of paid placement opportunities first-hand.
They created RMP Enterprise (trading as RateMyPlacement.co.uk) and ran the company from their bedrooms for the first two years. Then in 2009 the company secured finance of £130,000 from Sophrosyne Ventures to accelerate its growth ambitions.
Today the company has five products, including a placement advertising site and national placement and industry awards.
Multi-national organisations such as Barclays, Disney, IBM, Accenture, Microsoft, BlackBerry and JP Morgan pay to post their placements and the detailed reviews, including its 10-star rating system, continue to grow.
Sizing up the market
While Milkround attracts around 500,000 visitors a month and 45% of university finalists, Sidwell says the undergraduate marketplace was under-serviced.
With one and a half million student visitors to the site last year, Sidwell and his partners’ student idea has become a profitable reality.
Moreover, Sidwell insists that the youthfulness of the founders and staff makes for an innovative company: “Our young and dynamic team of under 30-year-olds means that the creativity within the business is overflowing.
“RMP Enterprise isn't afraid to take risks when it comes to new product development and pursuing new avenues of business.”
Evidence of such innovation can be seen through the company’s new mobile data collection app, which enables RMP Enterprise’s 80-plus strong client base to collect information from prospective interns at on-campus events.
Measure of success
Turnover today stands at the £1m mark and with growth doubling year-on-year since inception, the motivated young entrepreneurs are determined to continue their steady rate of success.
They travel to 100 University Fairs every September to engage with students face-to-face. And via its social media presence, the company provides daily advice, opportunities and “general banter” to its 10,000 Facebook fans.
Backed by a strong marketing agenda and another new product launch planned for 2013, Sidwell’s target of two million site visitors for this year and 18,000 placement reviews looks set to become a reality:
“RateMyPlacement.co.uk is the flagship product of a growing portfolio here at RMP Enterprise. There is huge scope for growth across all of our products, especially when it comes to mobile data collection in this arena too.”