Sheffield City Council’s See it Be it in Sheffield campaign brings to life the world of work by facilitating access to a network of local businesses and employers.

When a group of local professionals and entrepreneurs met with students at The Sheffield College recently, questions were flying thick and fast…

“How did you start your business?”

“What are your goals?”

“What are your biggest challenges?”

For this group of students though, these were the questions being directed at them, rather than posed by them.

Young people studying The Sheffield College’s entrepreneurship and start up courses don’t just research and learn about existing business ideas, they take that knowledge and turn it into real business ideas. Many of those attending had already started to form their ideas into a tangible venture, with concepts ranging from IT support, marketing and design consulting to handmade candle manufacturing and fashion brands.

Meeting over breakfast, the students were there to meet new contacts from the South Yorkshire business community. Organised by See It Be It Sheffield and supported by the team at unLTD, we gathered a group of people who represented the best of what our region has to offer. Recent unLTD cover stars, Yee Kwan Chan and Harvey Morton were among those invited to join us, where we wanted them to be able share their own experiences in business, but also give the students their thoughts and feedback on their ideas too.

More importantly, we wanted those attending to have the opportunity to meet the kind of people they can draw on in their own community to help make even the loftier ambitions become tangible. Collaboration is a huge aspect of business and events like this mean that students are not isolated as they launch their enterprise.

“See It Be It are doing something pretty special in Sheffield,” says Dan Laver, unLTD’s own head of sales. “I’ve worked with them on a few ideas and it’s given me the bug to do more. When we first spoke, the team shared their goals with me – creating meaningful experiences that showcase the wealth of opportunity in our region”

See It Be It asked unLTD to team up with them earlier this year, with our initial concept of a joint networking event between professionals and students becoming the event delivered in May.

“We knew we wanted to create an event that was engaging for both parties. We didn’t want a presentation, we didn’t want a panel. We wanted to replicate a format that the students are going to find themselves in as they move forward, giving them a chance to quickly promote their ideas and to find those in the room that can share experiences and may be able to help connect them with someone who can help them reach their goals.”

Brogan Maguire, unLTD’s news and features editor, also joined in, speaking to several young people about her own journey as a writer and journalist and learning about how the students are turning their own concepts and passions into viable business plans.

“It’s been a great morning! We managed to gather a group of our friends from different sectors and different backgrounds. The people here today all have different stories to tell and it’s been fantastic to hear them getting to know their counterparts from the college.

“We wanted to give the students a chance to meet people that were just like them not so long ago!  I have heard students striking up conversations with someone who does the job they want to be doing. They can see that the things they want to do in their career are realistic options. It’s about demonstrating what can be achieved and how you can get there. It’s been about creating some inspiration and showing that really successful businesses started in the exact same places that these young people find themselves.”

Sarah Kettlewell, head of student participation and careers, added: “This collaborative event was a fantastic opportunity for students at The Sheffield College to meet and be inspired by local business people. Through the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Business and Enterprise Employer Skills Academy we are committed to developing the future generation of entrepreneurs in Sheffield through skills development, guest speakers and the unique START Up entrepreneurship programme. Student members of this Academy utilised this opportunity to practice pitching their business ideas and made new contacts. For many this was the first time they have taken part in a networking event and although a bit nervous at first, they all shared how useful they found the event, how friendly all of the employers were and asked if we can do it again!  We look forward to hosting unLTD again in the fantastic Silver Plate Restaurant at The Sheffield College.”

Sheffield City Council’s See it Be it in Sheffield campaign brings to life the world of work by facilitating access to a network of local businesses and employers.  We help young people to access meaningful encounters with employers and experiences of the workplace. 

We are working with employers of all sizes and across all sectors – from large global corporations and public sector organisations, to small businesses, charities and soletraders! Activities can include Mock Interviews, Skills Workshops, Workplace Visits, Careers Talks, Mentoring, Enterprise Skills and Virtual Work Experience and more.

We want to work with you too! If you feel passionate about helping create the next generation of entrepreneurs, CEOs and business people, contact us at seeitbeit@sheffield.gov.uk