A bite-sized look at Graduate Schemes

You have probably come across the term ‘graduate scheme’ on many an occasion. However, maybe you’re still unsure exactly what it entails and how it differs from a regular graduate job.

Here’s our helpful guide on understanding what a graduate scheme entails

They are the domain of larger firms

You probably know a few people who have secured grad schemes already. Chances are, they will have done so with firms such as Deloitte, EY and other large corporations. 

It is their modus operandi and the goal is generally to give you an immersive view of the business. At the end of this process, you will have the option of gaining a professional qualification, such as a certificate from the Association for Project Management, or similar.

It is a structured process designed to boost your skillset

Unlike a graduate entry-level job, a graduate scheme is designed to give you exposure to each element of the business you are involved in. For example, many banking graduate schemes provide a rotation through different teams over a 12-24 month period. 

This ensures your general skill set is boosted from the very beginning but then it also gives you a clear option to specialise further down the line. 

The salary can be very appealing

Many graduate schemes offer substantially higher starting salaries than your traditional graduate job. Typically, £25,000 - £30,000 is the average level of remuneration during the initial rotation and training phase.

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.

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.

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.  

Next: Ten Things You Need to Know to Get a Job