This section of the site is for those graduating this year, and recent graduates with a couple of years of work experience who are considering applying to SQW for a position as a research consultant. This page has been written by some of our recent graduate recruits, and aims to answer some of the questions you may have about working for SQW.
An overview of our company
SQW is a leading provider of research analysis and advice on sustainable economic and social development solutions for public, private and not-for-profit organisations, with offices in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cambridge. We work in teams which will typically be led by a Director and managed by a Senior Consultant or Consultant. Research Consultants provide a research input role on the teams.
Our work is project-based and can vary considerably in length, nature and location. For example, one project may require quarterly economic progress reports, which would consist of one consultant spending a day compiling and analysing information every three months. Another may be an in depth project evaluation which could last over three years and involve a team of ten staff plus external associates.
All our people generally work on several projects at any one time and gain a range of experience across different policy areas. Our clients range from central government departments to small local councils to partnerships of several organisations. Many of our clients are public sector organisations, although we also work for private companies and charities, both in the UK and overseas.
The role of a Research Consultant
All new graduates are recruited as Research Consultants and typically work in a number of different market areas in order to gain a breadth of experience – e.g. Innovation, Children, Young People and Families etc. Initial assignments may typically include background research, design and analysis of surveys, telephone and field interviewing, report writing and contributing to discussions and presentations in client meetings. There are opportunities to make a real contribution early on. Within a short period of time, research consultants are given responsibility for whole tasks within projects, such as survey management and literature reviews.
An introduction to some of our current graduates
Personal profiles of some recent graduates can be viewed by clicking on the names below.
Our most recent recruits have contributed a series of questions based on the things they wanted to know about SQW before joining the firm.
Is there a Graduate Development Programme?
New Research Consultants become part of our Research Consultant Development Programme which provides support during the first two years with SQW. Office Managers, with the support of each office's Research Consultant Manager, co-ordinates the induction and training of Research Consultants through the Programme. They help to ensure that you have a reasonable workload, achieve your progress targets and are involved in work that is both interesting and challenging – you will immediately be providing research support for current projects. The programme includes internal and external training, giving you the opportunity to network with your peers in other offices and with colleagues across SQW more widely.
Research Consultants have an individual review after both six and twelve months and then enter the annual appraisal process, with all other staff. This is an opportunity to make sure that you are on track in your career development. Through the course of the Programme you will be equipped with the core skills required to progress to Consultant.
What training will I get?
Research Consultants receive training in core consultancy skills, including research design, analytical methods, communication skills, developing proposals and IT skills. You will also attend knowledge development sessions to develop your understanding of the business, its key policy areas, projects and clients.
What is a typical day in the office like?
This is difficult to define but the answer would be that it is always different and very rarely predictable! The majority of a Research Consultant's time would usually entail conducting desk research and analysis. Some time would be spent on the telephone and sending/replying to emails or in meetings with other members of the consultancy team.
How often do you get the opportunity to travel?
Not every day is spent in the office and most Research Consultants will be given regular opportunities to attend client meetings, events, site visits, carry out face-to-face interviews and help facilitate workshops.
How independent are you in your work?
As a Research Consultant you will always be part of a team and will spend most of your time working independently on completing research tasks that contribute to projects. You will always have a project manager, who will usually be a Senior Consultant, and they are always very approachable and helpful at every stage. Our offices are all either open plan or shared offices and therefore colleagues are able to share and discuss work with each other within a supportive working environment.
What were your responsibilities when you joined and what are they now?
To begin with we were given responsibility for sections of research work which could be small surveys, socio-economic baseline analysis and contributing to chapters of reports. With experience you will increasingly take on a management role leading survey teams, giving presentations, writing proposals and compiling reports.
What experience and interests do I need to have in order to join the company?
It helps if you have previous experience of working or work-shadowing in the areas of economic development, planning, or education within the public sector. It is important that you have a general interest in public sector policy and economic development. You may also have special interests (e.g. in innovation, education, spatial analysis etc.) which can be developed as you gain experience.
What are the working hours like?
Realistically, on an average day, most Research Consultants will work from 9 o'clock until 6 o'clock (with a lunchbreak). Longer hours will occasionally be required to complete work by a deadline.
When are you likely to be promoted?
SQW recognises that the progression from Research Consultant to Consultant is gradual and there is no defining moment when your responsibilities will markedly change but you will be promoted when you are ready to manage projects. Broadly we expect Research Consultants to be promoted to Consultant level within two years of joining the firm. The company looks to recruit highly motivated and aspiring team workers who want to excel in their personal and career development.