Initiative and enterprise

As a graduate you will be expected to tackle tasks with a certain degree of independence. Understanding your specific job role and how it fits into your department and the wider organisation as a whole will help you to develop initiative and an enterprising approach. 

Understand it

In the workplace initiative and enterprise is about the capacity to:

  • Work unsupervised and make sound decisions
  • See things that need to be done and do them without the need to ask someone
  • Translate ideas into actions
  • Make improvements to processes and systems to improve efficiency or make life easier
  • Take an innovative approach to a task or problem
  • Identify new business opportunities

Develop it

The following examples of initiative and entrepreneurship can be developed as part of your degree, part-time work, sandwich placements, voluntary work, hobbies, clubs and societies:

  • Talk to colleagues in different departments to understand the 'bigger' picture of your role and department 
  • Join Brunel's Entrepreneurship Society to learn new business ideas and share student experiences 
  • Critically assess workplace processes and systems around you and identify different ways of approaching tasks

Demonstrate it

Employers are always hungry for hard evidence. A lot of selection and interview practice is competency based. Basically that means that employers score the evidence they find from your application form, interview and other selection procedures to come up with a final assessment of your suitability for the post.

You will need to be reflective in the way that you describe the examples you have developed. The STAR approach where you explain the situation, task, action and result will help you to articulate your evidence in a convincing way. Identify examples of your initiative and enterprise skills in the Identifying Skills work sheet.

Examples of competency based questions used by graduate recruiters relating to initiative:

  • Please give an example of a time when you have used your own initiative to solve a problem. (Cancer Research UK).
  • Using an example of a time when you were in a new environment and had to achieve a task, please describe a) how you established and used a network of contacts, and b) how you set about influencing people, to help you achieve your task. (Unilever)
  • Describe an activity you have undertaken in your own time in order to further your understanding and learn more about something you were interested in (Bosch)

The following sources of information will help you to develop your confidence in this area: 

Page last updated: Monday 22 July 2013