Applying to Graduate Schemes as a Graduate
If you are about to graduate or are recently graduated, and are looking for a career opportunity, you may not be aware that you can still apply for most graduate schemes as a graduate! Graduate schemes are structured training programmes run by employers to develop future leaders of their organisations. They usually last between one and three years and offer hands-on experience, skills development, and mentoring.
Graduate schemes are highly competitive and often have early deadlines, some open up already in the summer after you have finished your course, so you can use the time after your exams to research schemes and prepare for applications. Find more advice in our Search for work guide. Below are some tips on what to consider when applying as a graduate.
Find the right scheme for you
There are graduate schemes available in various sectors and specialisms, such as finance, business management, science & engineering, retail, public and not-profit sector and more. You don’t have to choose a scheme related to your degree subject, but you should consider your interests, strengths, and career goals. Consider whether your values align with the company, whether there is a staff network you can join/contribute to and explore your motivations and passions. You can use online resources such as MyFuture, Bright Network and Prospects to start thinking about your career, search for graduate schemes and find out more about the employers, sectors and roles.
Prepare a strong application.
To apply for a graduate scheme, you usually have to fill out an online application form, take online tests or video interviews, attend an assessment centre, and do a final interview . Each stage is designed to assess your suitability for the role and the organisation. To stand out from the crowd, you should research the company and the industry, tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and achievements, practice your test-taking (we have a free testing software – Graduates First) and interview skills, and showcase your enthusiasm and motivation. Explore our Get started guides for all the steps in the application process.
The gap between graduation and starting a graduate scheme.
Most schemes will start the summer a year after you apply, so you may have up to a year gap before you start! How do you fill this time?
Fixed – term roles:
There are usually internships and fixed – term roles in any sector or industry. Many of these roles are for temporary projects and would suit great for someone who just has up to a year or if you would like to strengthen your application. Recruitment agencies and speculative applications may also be good strategies for finding temporary work. We recently published several blogs giving advice on alternative job hunting strategies.
Learn new skills:
You can also use this time to enhance your employability and boost your confidence. You can take online courses, read books or articles to stay up to date with your chosen industry area, volunteer for a cause you care about, or do some freelance work. This will help you keep your mind active and demonstrate your initiative and curiosity.
You may want to use some of the time to travel and re-charge before starting work. However, be aware that if you still have not secured a graduate scheme, many employers would like to see you in – person for their final assessment stages, so you may want to wait to travel till you have secured a place. Another option is to research whether an employer uses virtual recruitment methods. If you hope to work internationally in the future, you may want to explore countries or cities you would like to work in, perhaps learn a new language and get familiar with the local labour market.
Graduate schemes are a great way to kick-start your career with a reputable employer. However, they are not the only option available for graduates. You can also explore other routes such as graduate jobs, internships, apprenticeships, or entrepreneurship. Whatever path you choose, remember that your career is not linear and you can always change direction or pursue further education if you want to. Have a look at our Get started guides for more lots of resources on search for work and more or come and see a Careers Adviser in one of our appointments.
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