Peaking at the right time

Peaking at the right time

Graduate internships can provide growing businesses with the talent they need as one Newcastle firm has discovered.

Graduates are proving the key to success for an expanding company which provides business intelligence solutions for some of the world’s largest organisations.

Since launching in 2008, Peak Indicators has grown into a consultancy firm with clients ranging from John Lewis to the Irish Post Office. Founded by University of Sunderland graduate Andy Ball, four years ago in Chesterfield, Peak Indicators now employs up to 48 permanent staff and most recently opened up a Newcastle branch at Regent Centre, Gosforth, turning to Sunderland’s graduate internship scheme, to provide graduates who could help grow the business further.

Graduates Clare Winter, Carley Howell and Steven Wales recently joined Peak Indicators under the internship scheme as a human resource co-ordinator, a business consultant, and a systems adminstrator respectively.

Matt Harte, Peak Indicators head of delivery, said: “We believe we’re offering an exciting opportunity for talented individuals to join an expanding consultancy and perform in a technical and challenging business environment.

“We opened up a Newcastle office as we knew there was such an untapped pool of talent coming through the region’s universities, and knew if we had a base here we could offer the sort of opportunities you’d normally get by moving to London.

“As we’ve grown there was a real need to increase our non-customer facing staff, and so far we’ve been incredibly impressed with Clare and Carley’s dedication and professionalism, and look forward to continuing our relationship with the University of Sunderland.

“There’s a definite enthusiasm with interns, they pick up on new technologies so quickly and show willingness and drive to succeed. As a company we want to embrace what is being taught in universities and want to be stretched by our staff into new areas and value their ideas.

“Without the graduates we would not have been able to expand in the way we have. Our strength is that we’re close to the business we provide solutions for, using Oracle Business Intelligence, we’re not based on an off-shore model.”

All new staff are assigned a mentor and placed on a six-week training programme to ease them into the transition of work at Peak Indicators. A further recruitment round is planned by the company in February.

Nickola Gray, University of Sunderland internship development manager, said: “The internship schemes that we run here at the university prove that graduates can make a difference to business during turbulent economic times.

“It’s also helping to retain graduate talent in the region in local organisations and crucially, helping to create and strengthen relationships between the university and business.

“We are delighted we have been able to match up a number of our interns with Peak Indicators, and the feedback has been very positive. We hope to continue this relationship for a growing organisation.

“Many companies engaged in the scheme have returned to the university to see what they can do next to develop, how they can continue to work with us and access further student and graduate talent.”

The graduate internship scheme offers business a financial contribution to employ a recent graduate on a six-month fixed term contract. For graduates, they gain six-months experience at a graduate level job, are paid a minimum salary of £14,859 per annum pro-rata, develop their skills and gain valuable work experience that will help secure future employment.

The scheme, launched in 2009, has received strong support from the European Regional Development Funding, ERDF, and the former regional development agency ONE North East. Former bank worker Clare Winter, 39, from Washington, who studied a degree and a Masters in human resource management, said: “Despite not having a technical background, what appealed to me about Peak Indicators was their willingness to train someone with the right skill set.

“I’m really enjoying the job, the culture of the organisation has really appealed to me, everyone’s ideas are valued, people are the business and you feel valued as an individual.

“This job certainly made me realise that I made the right decision to change careers and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at university. I’d encourage any graduate to enquire about the Internships scheme.”

Carley Howell, 21, from Sunderland, who studied business and marketing management, said: “When I graduated I worked at Sunderland’s Students’ Union for a year as the vice president during which time I heard about this job through the graduate internships scheme. I thought it was too good to be true.

“I applied and a month later I was in a job I absolutely love. It’s completely different to anything I have done before. It’s really interesting and I would rather be in a role where I am being challenged, rather than doing a job that comes easy to me.

“I could never envisage this job becoming boring. I’m working with major clients and their business intelligence systems, working with their data to create reports and the analysis of it.”

She added: “I would encourage any student to make the most of their time at university, seize any opportunities and get involved in as much as you can, it will help with your CV and strengthens your experience when going for interviews.”