Thinking about applying for a graduate scheme? The time has long since passed when a university degree guaranteed a great job so it’s important to research all avenues before you graduate. Graduate schemes have become a popular choice for those leaving top-ranking universities (usually with a first or 2:1) that want to work for a FTSE250 company. But what do graduate schemes offer? What are the entry requirements and how do you apply?
What is a graduate scheme?
Graduate schemes (sometimes referred to as graduate programmes) are designed to offer a structured career pathway for the very top graduates to enter major corporations at management level. They usually take place over one or two years and in most cases offer insight into the different departments within the company so that you are able to choose a certain career path at the end of the scheme.
Which companies offer graduate schemes?
Many companies offer graduate schemes but be careful that you’re not applying for an internship or indeed just a graduate job. Most FTSE250 companies offer prestigious graduate schemes that can provide a unique stepping-stone into big business. Entry to these schemes is highly competitive but if you have clear ambition in working for a top corporation they can provide a golden opportunity to kick-start your career.
Is a graduate scheme right for me?
It’s very competitive and on average each post receives 80 applications (www.graduates.co.uk). You need the academic credentials; usually involving a first class or higher second-class degree from a Russell Group university, although in recent years we’ve noticed companies considering high-performing graduates from other institutions. The recruitment process can be pretty arduous, involving multiple interviews, psychometric testing and practical trials. You need to demonstrate your exceptional capabilities, your aptitude and your dedication.
You also need to demonstrate your complete commitment to the work, values and future of the company you’re applying for. We would never advise a scatter-gun approach here. If you want to work for a pharmaceuticals giant for example, you need to narrow that down to 3 you would really like to work for and preferably the 1 ideal employer. Focus all your energy on getting on that dream graduate scheme. If you’re not sure, you’re probably not going to beat the competition.
You are also (usually) being fast-tracked for a management role and you should bear this in mind. If you graduated top in chemistry because of your passion for hands-on research, do you want to move out of the lab into a management position? Yes, management probably carries a higher salary but is it really what you want to do day-to-day?
How to apply
First of all short-list the companies that you would like to work for and decide what career pathway you really want. Be sure of your plans before starting the application process. Many companies have extensive information on their websites regarding the graduate schemes they offer, but some provide very minimal guidance. Some have dedicated websites for graduate schemes such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Future Leaders Programme.
At Hudson Shribman we are involved in headhunting top graduates for our FTSE250 clients. We first check our database for likely candidates so it is well worth registering with us (other excellent recruitment agencies are available of course!). Because graduate schemes are so competitive companies do not always advertise widely and rely on proactive graduates searching out opportunities (they only want applicants with initiative!) and recruitment agencies to headhunt top talent. Make sure you’ve signed up with agencies and your perfect CV is out there to be snapped up!