How to decide if a UK graduate scheme is right for you?

What is a graduate scheme?

A graduate scheme is typically an entry-level role in a company, where you’re paid a salary for up to two years. The role is often used as a training scheme, giving candidates the opportunity to rotate departments and experience different areas of the company during this time. Usually, these roles start straight after university and in many ways are like a normal job. At the end of the contracted period, if you feel like the company isn’t right for you, you can take your newly found skills and look for another role. If this is the case, just try to secure your next role before the end of the scheme.

How to get ahead

You can apply for a graduate scheme from the Summer before your final year of study. It’s worth researching companies and what roles are available before this time so that you have enough time to apply for the schemes you are interested in. Your research can also help you to determine if there are any internship opportunities within the company before applying, as some companies have been known to hire from the previous year’s interns. You can find details for specific companies online and follow their schemes on their social media, it’s a good idea to follow them on LinkedIn and try to connect with the company there too.

How to apply

Applications usually take a similar form to applying for a graduate role with the expectation that you will fill in an online application. After this you’re likely to need to understand what is expected from you during an interview, assessment centre and how to approach psychometric tests. You can speak to the careers team at your institution for further advice on applications and interviews, many will also have support tools and exercises to help you succeed in these areas. Companies offering these schemes usually expect applicants to have a 2:1, however it’s worth checking as some employers are more flexible.

What route is right for you?

If you decide to apply for a graduate scheme, our advice is to be prepared. Over your first year of study, try to research what opportunities are available so you can apply for internships if they’re available. Then use your second year to narrow down the search and start applying for schemes. This is just one route to a graduate job, it may be that through your research into companies you find one that doesn’t offer a scheme but has fantastic opportunities. Try to determine what is most suitable for your degree subject and industry to help you decide. The pros of a graduate scheme include a better salary, working for a recognisable name and good training opportunities. The cons include competition for a certain number of roles, not every company has one and schemes may be department specific.

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By Jen Garmston Published: Nov 20,2023

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