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Graduate Scheme: A comprehensive guide

Graduate Scheme

Graduate Scheme: A comprehensive guide

Just finished university and feeling a bit lost? A graduate scheme will be the best pick for you to get you in to the groove of the real world. Here’s everything you need to know about graduate schemes.

What is a graduate scheme?

Simply said, a graduate scheme is a training program offered by top organisations and companies exclusive for those who are fresh out of university. It is an entry-level job that gives you the experience you need to climb the corporate ladder or find your own way.

It is in all ways a normal job – you are entitled to a full-wage salary and most (if not all) workplace benefits. A graduate scheme generally lasts around 2 years and although you won’t be guaranteed a job once you end it, there is a chance of getting a permanent position after successful completion. 

An ordinary graduate scheme will have you working in different departments, being a part of different projects and even rotated between different locations to help you learn the ropes in the real world. This allows you to gain work experience in multiple areas and help you a better decision about choosing your specialism. 

Here are a few ways a graduate scheme would be different from a regular job.

  • You will experience many roles during your time. This is to give all participants the exposure to many areas of the business. 
  • Only those who recently graduated are eligible for a graduate scheme.
  • Graduate schemes tend to be very competitive because it is structured to train young graduates with potential to take on leadership roles.
  • The recruitment process of a graduate scheme is longer. It involves multiple rounds of interviews, assessments and psychometric tests.

Where to apply for a graduate scheme?

Not all companies have graduate schemes and some have only one or two positions available. But there are larger organisations that offer more than hundred graduate schemes to fresh graduates. 

Many industries offer graduate schemes so you can take your pick according to the field you are interested in. Most common employers include law, HR, investment banks, healthcare management, marketing, retail, IT and charity. The world is wide open once you are graduate.

If you have an employer in mind for your graduate scheme, you can visit their social media and website for updates. You can also try to contact a representative through LinkedIn or Twitter. 

Attending career fairs, workshops and recruitment events will also give you a chance to interact with your employers and apply for a graduate scheme. You can also talk to those who have experienced the graduate schemes offered by the company and see if it’s the perfect fit for you. 

Here is a list of the top companies that offer graduate programs that you can try out:

IBM, Amazon, BBC, Google, Unilever, McKinsey & Company, Unilever, HSBC, GSK, Ernst & Young, JP Morgan, Lidi, Rolls Royce and Newton

When do graduate schemes open?

The majority of the time, you can start applying for a graduate scheme of your choice around the end of your second year (September) and the deadline to apply for your graduate scheme often set beginning of the year. (January). However, it’s best to apply as soon as you can because some companies continue to recruit at an ongoing basis and will close immediately after the positions are filled.

Start the application process early

Most graduate schemes are very competitive. If you fail to submit your application before the deadline, your chances of getting in can be slim to none. Focus on filling out your applications in the best way possible, short and to the point. 

Perfecting your entry kit can take a lot of preparation and there are many more like you fighting for the same spot. Start early and give yourself enough time to make the best impression. 

Here are a few tips to land the graduate scheme of your dreams

  • Create a CV that stands out from the hundreds of other graduates. Make it exceptional and authentic. Your employ must feel like you are the perfect fit for the company.
  • Take time to compose your application. There is always room for improvement.
  • Don’t miss out the deadline. There are many those who are waiting to take up your spot.

What is the difference between a graduate scheme and a graduate job?

There are a few stark differences between a graduate scheme and a graduate job. 

Large-scale organisations are more likely than smaller ones to provide graduate schemes. But a lot of reputed businesses offer graduate jobs so, if you’re have many more options.  

You’re more likely to get a higher salary and better package if you get selected to a graduate scheme rather than a graduate job. Both are entry-level positions and offer competitive salaries but graduate schemes pay better.

Graduate schemes operate are a lot like educational programs, except they pay a real salary and also welcome you to the workforce. Graduate jobs in the meantime have a defined role that you will have to stick to.

Graduate schemes are designed to offer you a taste of various roles during your time. However, you might not get a permanent position in the end. Graduate jobs on the other hand offer you higher job security as you will sign a contract or an agreement with the employer.

Are graduate schemes worth it?

There are many benefits of joining a graduate scheme. It is a very important step in starting your career. This is a stepping stone for the journey of your dreams. 

Here are a few pros of applying for a graduate scheme.

  • New experiences and opportunities: Since graduate schemes allow you to work in different parts of the organisation, you will get exposed to many functions of the company.
  • Networking: In addition to work experience, you will also get the chance to meet leaders of the industry and create connections with them.
  • Support and guidance: With the exposure you gain, you will be able to figure out what works best for you and start your career on a high note.

Final Thoughts

A graduate scheme will introduce you to the real world and give you a taste of how it works. There’s a lot to gain through a graduate scheme without anything to lose. 

Take your time to decide if it’s for you and take the next step that will get you closer to your goals!



Lihini is a poet and creative writer working in the field of public relations and advertising. She loves the art of writing and spends her time between reading, watching movies and baking. She wants to travel and dreams of visiting all the beautiful places across the world.

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