Like for so many companies this year, 2020 has been incredibly challenging and testing not just financially but also psychologically.
On March 23rd we were all told to remain at home on lockdown and all of a sudden the last 4 years of huge time, effort and financial investment we’d put into our business was in potential jeopardy with no safety net to catch us. There is nobody to pull you up and nobody to tell you what glimmer of light there may be at the end of the tunnel.
Once the initial fire fighting began and we understood that technicalities led to zero financial support, as a business, we strapped ourselves in and started to use the resilience, perseverance and mental strength required, that got us through the first 4 years of business ownership; a strength that provided us with a livelihood that can support us and our families. We’d heard countless times before the usual lines of ‘no budget’ ‘let’s speak about it next year’ ‘I haven’t got 15 minutes to discuss’ ‘pencil me in for 4pm on Friday’ so we knew what to expect going into this incredibly stressful and anxious time. As a collective we understood the need to take this extraordinary time to focus on how we can improve the Gradfeed business and continue to move forward albeit at a slower than planned pace.
‘no budget’ ‘let’s speak about it next year’ ‘I haven’t got 15 minutes to discuss’ ‘pencil me in for 4pm on Friday’
At this time we also highlighted the importance of trying to continue to support our staff and suppliers so we kept our foot down and continued with planned technological advancements, sometimes at the expense of ourselves. This sacrifice was undertaken despite the current failings within the Graduate & Entry Level recruitment process in the industry, with the ultimate impact being felt by the already debt-burdened student.
Throughout the past 9 months we have reached out to National Government, Local Government and Governing bodies about our initiative to help more young people into what is still a relatively-hidden industry. Unfortunately, we were told initiatives like ours were lower priority due to their own growing concerns of staff redundancies or furlough.
We have throughout this period seen positive signs of the market picking back up only to then have these few embers extinguished at the first murmur of negative or uncertain news. 2020 has clearly been devastating to smaller businesses and has heightened our concerns of the people in charge of the next generation entering the Real Estate and Built Environment. Early Talent and graduate opportunities vanished and Early Talent careers teams were being decimated by redundancies and furlough. We have countless examples of students sharing their experiences of the varied and time-consuming application processes such as filling out online tests, application forms, Zoom interviews, assessment centres and at the end receiving little to no feedback should they not be successful.
As a business, our technology and platform exists to assist the next generation of students and graduates entering the Real Estate & Built Environment Industry by giving them the tools and information required to discover employers of all sizes and to highlight the variety of opportunity that exists right across the country.
We’re now 9 months on from the 23rd March and ironically have as much certainty about the future now as we did then but are stronger, more robust and have the ever-growing experience of business ownership and taking the risks that are involved in our stride. Unfortunately for businesses like ours along with many others, the immense mental strength required can be often dismissed by that ignored email, that phone call that wasn’t picked up or that agreed meeting or conversation that didn’t materialise. Nothing and nobody is below you or your job title – compassion for all is required.
These countless frustrations however are outweighed by the ‘wins’ namely the collaborations and partnerships we have forged. The students we have managed to assist in finding jobs during this time has led to some brilliant feedback and provided us with an open dialogue as to how we can improve our offering; using this intelligence we have highlighted 3 new features that will be ready in the New Year which will strengthen the students ability to present themselves online and engage with a wider selection of employers even further.
Special mentions must go to individuals such as Jason Antill of PRE Chartered Surveyors who has always been a huge advocate for our business and has offered support where required, Priya Shah of BAME in Property has been a brilliant supporter and highlighted the importance of businesses like ours in helping the next generation become more Diverse & Inclusive and has provided content and support where required.
Our development team have also been incredibly responsive to technological changes when required. We have grown our relationship base with several Universities and now have a student reach that spans 64 UK Universities – thank you to all the students that have signed up with us, have engaged and we will continue to try and support you all during this challenging time.
Finally, we do have some exciting news to share with all our Followers, Contacts and Connections in early 2021 that will provide our ever-growing database of students a huge understanding of businesses and the opportunities that exist and are available in the UK.
In January, progress was top of the agenda for 2020, but as the year unfolded it became clear that our priorities needed to shift to survival and indeed this was the only goal we needed to achieve.
As we approach Christmas and the New Year, we are pleased to say Gradfeed has achieved this goal and we look forward to 2021.
Wishing all of you a peaceful and prosperous holiday season.