Second degree no obstacle in appointment with TAEFL

By Chloe Millington

After months of searching for my first graduate role, and several disappointments later, I never realised things could happen so quickly. Within days of first hearing about Trade & Export Finance, I was walking up to the building about to begin my first day. My hands were shaking and I had hundreds of questions running through my mind: “What if I can’t do the work I’m set?” or “What if I don’t get along with my new colleagues?”

Ever since I was young, my perception of the graduate world was somewhat clichéd; business suits and high heels, corporate giants and travelling on the Tube. Looking back at these original expectations, reality couldn’t have been more different.

Although I had avoided having to commute on the Tube every morning in the Capital, I did find myself stuck in a traffic jam on the M6! Situated just outside Birmingham City Centre, Trade & Export Finance (TAEFL) is a small, family run financial consultancy with 15 employees. I needn’t have worried about getting along with my colleagues, as within hours it already felt like I was part of the family. Katie the Personal Assistant couldn’t have been more helpful giving me the rundown of how things work.

Need to make transition from temp to permanent

I joined on a temp-to-perm basis, so I knew that I really had to prove myself in order to secure my position. And while getting on with everybody was important, it wasn’t enough. Coming in with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Psychology and a Masters in Human Resource Management, my first thoughts were that I would struggle to understand anything finance-related. It certainly wasn’t where I had imagined I would end up. If the disappointments of being a job seeker had taught me anything, however, it was to take every opportunity I could secure and make the best of it.

When I was deciding whether to do a Masters degree straight after first graduating, it was a tough choice. I was aware that the job market was competitive and sometimes experience is more valuable than academic qualifications. But I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of standing out amongst the crowd and, with aspirations to work in the HR field, I wanted to become CIPD accredited sooner rather than later.

Lacking experience, at first I thought that I would be expected to know how to do everything straight away, but obviously this was just silly. I learnt that as long as I was willing to throw myself in to everything and ask questions, then this was more than enough. Quite quickly my confidence began to grow and I found myself thriving: I must have been doing something right as after just two and a half weeks as a temp I was appointed as the permanent Executive Assistant at TAEFL.

Case for going to smaller businesses

I think joining a smaller business rather than a corporate giant on a graduate scheme definitely has its benefits. At TAEFL I do not feel that I am just a number and it really does feel like a family, it didn’t take me long to get to know all my colleagues and this has enabled me to build closer relationships with them. I also feel the opportunities are greater as I have the chance to become involved in all functions of the business. My tasks vary on a day to day basis and the directors always have time to listen; even if they are sometimes hard to pin down!

As for the business suits and high heels, I still haven’t got used to the early mornings so I haven’t yet reached that particular state of glamour!

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