There is a wealth of opportunities available to you after university, so it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. A graduate scheme is just one of the avenues you could go down, but what is a graduate scheme? Here we’ll explain everything you need to know, and why it’s an option you could be considering.
What is a graduate scheme?
A graduate scheme is a job that is open to you if you have a degree from a higher education institution. Generally, a scheme will include a mix of training and hands on experience over the course of 1-3 years, to develop you into a future leader of the business.
Graduate schemes are available across a range of sectors and depending on the size of the company you apply to, as part of a graduate scheme you’re likely to be part of a larger graduate cohort who will have joined the company at a similar time to you. Smaller schemes may only take on 1-2 grads, but some of the largest schemes take on over 500 graduates a year across the country!
What can a graduate scheme do for me?
There are multiple benefits to joining a graduate scheme, including the unique opportunity to build skills and experience quickly as you are given real responsibility. Many schemes will rotate you around projects or different areas of the business to give you a wide range of experience, and this is great to find out what interests you and where you’d like to develop your career.
All graduate schemes will have a tailored training programme for you to undertake whilst you’re on them. This will include job specific training to make sure that your excelling at your day to day role, but you’re also likely to gain training in management and leadership to prepare you as you progress through the company. Within some sectors you’ll receive professional qualifications as part of your training, and these will ultimately make you more effective at your role, and more valuable as your career develops.
Graduate schemes will also give you increased exposure to senior stakeholders within the business, and quite often you’ll be assigned a senior mentor when you join a graduate scheme. This can be an invaluable experience to develop your career, as well as picking up tips and advice when you come across challenges in your day to day work. The biggest benefit is that your career progression is going to be much more rapid than someone who isn't on a graduate scheme.
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The salary can be very appealing
The financial aspect can often be very attractive to students, with the average graduate starting salary sitting at about £30,000. Depending of the structure of your chosen company, this can rise rapidly and it's usually linked to the succesful completion of exams/qualifications to take you to the next level professionally.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can learn more on our ‘no idea what to do’ hub.
The application process starts early
Most graduate schemes are highly competitive. What can make them even more competitive is forgetting to submit your application on time. Usually, applications open around October/November to start the following September.
However, not all grad scheme application processes have a set deadline. Many are marked as ‘on-going’. Don’t let this fool you; it is far better to submit your application early. That way, if the employers fill all vacancies early, you won’t have missed out.
The application process can take time
Preparation is key when it comes to the application process. Unlike other graduate jobs, often based around an initial application submission and then final interview, grad schemes can involve multiple stages.
It is not uncommon to submit a video interview, attend an assessment centre and then finally be called in for a face-to-face interview with senior firm employees. Psychometric tests are also a staple of the process – so be prepared.
That's where you're in luck - Bright Network offers a free Psychometric test.
A great stepping stone
In conclusion, graduate schemes are a tried and tested way to boost your career prospects from the first day out of university. Yes, it is a highly competitive field and the process can take anywhere from one to three months - perhaps longer.
However, prepare well, immerse yourself in the recent workings of the firm of your choice and submit your application with plenty of time and you will boost your chances of success considerably.
Use our handy application page and browse graduate jobs to kick-start your search today.