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An Introduction To Graduate Schemes

Joining a Graduate Scheme can be the perfect start to your career. Graduate Schemes can come in all shapes and sizes, so for help with your application take a look at our guide and make your application the most successful it can be.

Job title Location Salary
Network Rail - Business Technology Graduate Scheme Nationwide £26,500 + benefits
MDS - Graduate Management Trainee Rest of Europe (excl. UK and Eire), Rest of World (excl. Europe), Nationwide Competitive + benefits
Network Rail - Project Management Graduate Scheme Nationwide £26,500 + benefits
DCC Sales & Marketing Graduate Programme Rest of Europe (excl. UK and Eire), Nationwide, Republic of Ireland £27,000 + benefits + Bonus
Network Rail - Electrical & Electronic Engineering Graduate Scheme Nationwide £26,500 + benefits
DKB Household - UK Sales Graduate Trainee (Farnborough) South East £20k to £22k + benefits
Network Rail - Mechanical Engineering Graduate Scheme Nationwide £26,500 + benefits
DCC Business Management Graduate Programme Rest of Europe (excl. UK and Eire), Nationwide, Republic of Ireland £27,000 + benefits + Bonus
Network Rail - Finance Graduate Scheme Nationwide £26,500 + benefits
Network Rail - Supply Chain Graduate Scheme Nationwide £26,500 + benefits

Graduate Schemes 2015

Graduate Schemes: What they are offering you

Graduate schemes are long term employment contracts usually at the larger corporate organisations. These are designed to take the brightest and best graduates straight from university and train them to be key employees in the business. Graduate schemes or graduate training schemes usually allow graduates to be taken under the wing of a larger company and showed around the different areas of the business. That could be accounts, marketing, HR, research and development or other types of professional services. Graduates are given room to find their feet in different areas without having to pigeonhole themselves too early on. Furthermore, graduate schemes at certain companies provide not only a job straight after university but can provide a postgraduate qualification in areas such as accounting (ACA), management accounting (CIMA) or marketing (CIM). Meanwhile this allows the companies to offer these lucrative schemes to a massive graduate. In some cases, taking on up to 1000 graduates, will then allow companies to source fresh ideas allowing the company to keep developing. All this with a very competitive starting salary makes many graduates view these types of schemes as the ultimate aim. However, with the offers being so appealing the competition for places is high. Each vacancy is seen as a golden ticket. While this shouldn't put you off applying, competition is so high that you should not let any rejection knock you back. We surveyed over 400 students and graduates seeking their opinions about large organisations and the schemes they run compared to working for a small company:

  • 73% of graduates seem to prefer the idea of joining a formal graduate scheme.
  • 64% believed that their career prospects were better with a large company.
  • 86% thought larger companies were more prestigious to work for.

Graduate schemes: What you should offer them

With graduate scheme competition being so intense, it is important to offer employers the everything you can. Applications start at the beginning of your third year and it is important to do your research and find out when submissions commence. As a rule applications are open in the winter, with a view to start in September of the following year. On first impression this seems like a long gap but between sending off that first application and being accepted onto the graduate scheme there are several hoops to jump through. Often the application process involves several interviews, online tests, assessment days and tasks to complete. The exertion spent on whittling down the list to the best of the best is why you should not slip up at any stage and prove you are worth it. Take a look the tips below to make sure you’re as successful as you can be with your application:

  • 1. Be smart with applications. One of the ways that companies screen their applications early on is by predicted classifications. Companies rarely accepted anything lower than a 2:1 so make sure you’re on track to be awarded this. If you’re not it might be worth considering other future paths.
  • 2. Be diligent and do your research. Make sure you know the company,know what you’re applying for and complete the application. Some applications can be tedious and extensive, but take your time and make sure you fill out absolutely everything.
  • 3. Blow your own trumpet. Don’t feel shy about that award you got for English in sixth form or being captain of your university’s second football team. Nobody is going to be impressed if they don’t know. Remember these companies are looking for the brightest and the best.
  • 4.Stand out from the crowd. Being different and having an edge is important to gaining a head start in the competition for vacancies. Having a good academic record combined with going beyond what is expected of you in either academic, sporting or extracurricular endeavours is a great way to improve your chances of progression. This could be a work placement, internship or work experience, getting your foot in the door and having experience and knowledge already is a sure way to get noticed.
  • 5. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry if your course doesn’t seem applicable to the graduate scheme. Most will take any degree as long as its a high classification from a decent institution.
  • 6. Be your own candidate. When filling out the endless application forms, avoid blanket answers. Answer the question they are asking as proficiently as you can, but stay away from cliché and stock phrases.

This guide might all seem like common sense, but some of the applications are extremely long and it can easily gets tedious. The application forms usually want all sorts of details from the at least the past 5 years of your life so It is easy for standards to slip when trying to remember what you got for GCSE P.E. all those years ago.

If you are unable to secure a graduate scheme after university, remember not many people do, it is not the end of the world. There are plenty of opportunities out there. The usual step then is to begin applying for entry level jobs. They might not have as stringent interview process as some of the big graduate schemes but they certainly aren’t easy to come by. Each graduate scheme is different so read over the descriptions thoroughly. It is very rare for graduates to go straight into employment after finishing university. So keep applying, to the right places and with polished applications.

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