A guide to graduate training schemes 2016
Graduate schemes are the Holy Grail for most students but what are they all about? Bear with us and we’ll tell you…
There are of course a whole host of sought-after benefits that come with the experience of being on a grad scheme, making them one of the popular graduate job routes.
Before we jump into the juicy details, it’s worth knowing that grad schemes come in all different shapes and sizes, from global blue-chips to local SMEs. When it comes to applying, you’ll want a strategy and it can pay off to think a little out-of-the-box.
This guide will give you a really good and balanced overview on graduate schemes in the UK – the good, bad and the slightly ugly. Having read through it, you might decide the graduate scheme road is not for you.
That’s just fine, and keep in mind that there are many alternative paths to take, and we’ll be looking at some other great ways to kick-start your career too.
On this page:
Ok! Before you embark on applications, there are 8 key things you should know about the process and what graduate schemes have to offer you:
- Most applications take place between September – January for starting the following September
- They tend to be very competitive. For the big employers, statistically you have a 1-in-10 chance
- Salaries can vary widely depending on company and industry, but average around £25,000 for the first 2 years (see expected salaries)
- Your CV needs to be top-notch. Read our guide to an outstanding CV
- Applications take time! Be selective, spend good time on a few to boost your chances. Read more on how to apply
- Don’t miss the deadlines, whatever you do. See a full list of deadlines here
- You’ll boost your chances of success if you register with a specialist graduate recruiter. We can highly recommend the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, a career match-making service with a friendly team who will work with you to get the perfect graduate job. It’s completely free to students and graduates. Register with GRB now.
- Grad schemes are not for everyone, there are lots of alternatives which we consider here.
Remember – graduate training schemes are so highly sought-after for a reason. If you are accepted on to a graduate scheme then your career opportunities are huge. We’ll now look at some of the key benefits before drawing out some of the possible downsides you may not have yet considered.
There is no doubting the benefits of securing a place on a decent graduate scheme in a field you want to forge a career in.
Here are some of the key benefits you can expect if successfully placed:
- The training ‘on-the-job’ will be excellent and boost your future career chances within the same company
- You’ll have a really valuable reference when applying for new positions in your industry
- You should have a pretty decent starting salary
- There may be opportunities to travel, if not the world then across country
- You’ll be rubbing shoulders with like-minded and influential people
- Develop real life skills, earn valuable experience and build your confidence.
There are numerous other benefits which will depend on the employer, industry and location of your graduate scheme. Sound good? Well, let’s consider some of the possible downsides too to help you make a well-informed choice about your future.
As we always try to do, this guide is here to give you a balanced overview of the opportunities that come with grad schemes.
Here is a list of some of the things that employers don’t shout about which you might want to consider before applying:
- As we know, applications can be very competitive!
- Applications and form-filling take a lot of time, and they need to if you want a good shot
- The best grad schemes require at least a 2.1 degree. On track for a 2.2? See below for your options
- The job variety on some schemes can often be minimal, and you’ll have to work your way up from the bottom
- They don’t suit every personality, the application process alone can take its toll
- You may be required to travel a lot, or even be willing to move to a new city
- Grad schemes are rarely a 9-5 job. You may be required to work late, at home and maybe even weekends.
As with any opportunity in the working world, there are benefits and drawbacks. We’ve now covered most of them, but remember every employer and scheme is different. It’s up to you to understand what’s expected of you beforehand so you make the right choice to maximise your ability.
A 2.2 or less is not the end of the world! But, the truth of the matter is that if you want to get into the best graduate schemes then you will most likely need a 2.1 classification.
Having said that, if you didn’t manage to get a 2.1 at university and still want to apply for a graduate scheme then there are a few big employers to look at who are known for taking on 2.2 candidates:
- John Lewis
With a 2.2 you will most likely need experience in other areas that could be seen as a reason why you did not achieve the highest marks in your degree.
If you don’t get accepted on a graduate program then you should take comfort in the fact that 90% of other applicants are in the same boat!
There are a mass of alternatives out there for graduates that can offer the same, if not more benefits from a job or career. And on that note…
As we’ve seen, graduate schemes can really open doors and, for most graduates, are the perfect step into the working world. But it’s also important to remember that although they are a great place to kick-start your career there are plenty of other opportunities open to you after university. You might like to check out our guide covering the alternatives to graduate schemes.
Our advice is don’t rush into anything lightly or apply for every employer you come across. Really consider what you want to do and then think of the best route to take you there. Sign up with the guys at Graduate Recruitment Bureau who will help you find the right placement for you.
Good luck in your applications and we wish you success in whichever path you take!
For more advice on applying for a job take a look at our jobs section.