The art of attraction: How SMEs can stay competitive in hiring interns and fresh graduates


Recently at the 2017 SIM Career and Internship Fair, students shared with SiTF what they were looking for in an internship or entry-level position. In fact, the SMEs that participated in the Fair were well aware of the deciding factors and expectations students had and shed light on how the industry can better cater to the needs of students.


Focus on access to mentors

One advantage that SMEs have over larger corporations is their relative flat company structure. This can play out favourably to both undergraduates and graduates as long as companies emphasise how employees and interns can easily leverage on the experience and knowledge managers have.


“For us as an SME, we get to work closely with top management so interns and entry-level executives do have the guidance from people who have been in the industry for 10-20 years. This is unlike in MNCs where managers could be just 2 years their seniors,” said Joel Luo from


Jennifer See, HR & Admin manager at Ecquaria, who was also at the Fair had similar sentiments, “We have mentors within our project teams so there is plenty of opportunity for our interns and newbies to work closely with senior management – they have direct access to everyone because of the flat hierarchy.”


Be transparent with job information and development programmes

It is unwise to dismiss the fact that millennials do have tendencies to judge companies based on what is on the surface. But while SMEs may choose to invest in creating a fun and laidback work environment, it also pays to remain truthful when sharing information about the requirements of the job and progression opportunities.


Chia Ling from Accel Systems & Technologies Pte Ltd, a cybersecurity solutions provider, shared how it is important to set expectations at the get-go or risk having new hires leave within a matter of months.


“We keep the focus on the roles and the exposure that we offer, the work culture – mostly intangible aspects,” she said. 


Despite outward appearances such as having an Instagram-worthy office, at the end of the day, all employees want to feel reassured of the chance for progression in their roles.   


Maintain flexibility when hiring interns and fresh graduates

As organisations across the board face the reality that is the lack of job applications for qualified individuals, it is crucial that companies adopt a more flexible approach when hiring fresh graduates. shared how the focus on filling roles should shift away from a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.


“We understand that some of them (fresh graduates) are more comfortable with an internship because it provides them the opportunity to learn with the demands of a full-time position. But there are also those who look for stability so a full-time position is much more desirable.”


At Ecquaria, first year students are more than welcome to apply for internships. The organisation believes that giving these students the industry experience they need will prepare for bigger challenges ahead and potentially give them more reason to stay on in the industry.


Wong Shee Min from SiTF’s Capability Development team says, “Millennials have expectations and priorities that are different from their predecessors.  To engage the millennial interns and fresh graduates, SMEs must offer authentic experiences they seek.”

Contributed by Arcis Communications

SiTF PR Agency

Published date: 29 Mar 2017