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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why societies can help you get a graduate job in business


Although Laura has already left us she left us with this great blog on similiarities between societies and business and how being an exec for one could land you a job in business,

In my quest to land a graduate job, I’ve been trying quite hard to develop my commercial awareness. A few weeks ago I started thinking about what I learnt about business at university, and it struck me that taking part in a society can teach you a lot.
Most students take part in societies to make friends or develop a skill, but if you’re on the exec, running a society can be a lot like running a business. 

Firstly, it’s important to remember that every society and every business has a basic aim. For societies, this is to get people together with similar interests. For businesses, this is to provide a service or sell a product. Everyone in the society works towards this aim in the hope that more people will join and you’ll have more fun, or that you’ll make more money. 
This means that on a very simple level, societies and businesses have the same jobs to be done. For example, most business and societies needs someone who:
  • is in charge (company director = society president)
  • manages the money (chief financial officer = society treasurer)
  • tells people about you (marketing manager = publicity officer)
  • looks after everyone (HR manager = social sec)
This also means that every business or society has a target audience and must be able to cater to the needs of this target audience in order to be successful. A target audience would be the business’ customers or the society’s members. Businesses and societies are built around these people and without them they won’t work. Before you start a new society you usually need at least 30 members in order to prove that there is a demand for it and that the money the students’ union invests in the society won’t go to waste. Likewise, without market research and proof that there is a demand for a product, entrepreneurs will be unlikely to find investors for their business because there is no proof the product will make any money.

When it is finally up and running, all businesses and societies rely on hard work and efficiency of each of their departments or exec members. So if one part of the business or society doesn’t pull its weight, it’s likely that the rest will suffer. For example, you could have a great idea for a product but if your CFO doesn’t manage your finances well, you could end up spending too much money on the raw materials and not have enough left to produce it. Similarly, you could plan a fantastic society event but if your publicity officer doesn’t let people know about it, no-one will go to it.
As you can see, societies are simplified versions of businesses, and if you’ve ever wondered why graduate recruiters are so keen on people who’ve run them, that’s probably one of the reasons why.