As I am sure you're aware, being a student does occasionally require a small amount of adult behaviour. Cleaning, laundry, cooking and ironing may do a good job of providing the illusion that you are now grown up, but nothing says it clearer than " University is about to finish, go and find a job." Intimidating as that might seem, the idea of joining the industry you have worked so hard to become a part of, paired with the thought of earning some real money are probably enough to spur you on. If, on the other hand, you have just enrolled into university, it's always worth making your mind up and getting a plan together nice and early. So, to Freshers and graduates alike, I would like to pass on some wisdom, acquired through the mistakes I made.

Graduate schemes are extremely handy things; employers accept that you are new to the industry and are willing to give you a flavour of the different roles and options available. They will often help you to make some great contacts and are a fantastic way to break into your future career. To find out about graduate schemes, you can look in the handbooks available from your careers office, or you can see the top listings of graduate employers online. Each of these employers provides opportunities for many areas of study, so make sure you look at each one and work out which employers are looking for your qualifications. From here, you can apply to any relevant schemes through their official websites. Each graduate scheme has a deadline and whilst a few do accept ongoing applications, the majority close in the months just before Christmas or early January. This means it is essential to note the deadline dates well in advance. If I could pass on three bits of advice, they would be:

1- Apply early

Due to the unforgiving nature of university work, your essays and deadlines will undoubtedly be due in just before Christmas, so apply as early as possible. If you can get your applications finished in the first few weeks of your final year, then you'll have the rest of your time to complete your work.

2- Apply to your least favourite graduate schemes first

Make a list of the ones you want to apply to, rank them and start applying from the bottom. This is a great way to ensure your applications to the best schemes are as good as possible. Summing yourself up in 150 words isn't as easy as it sounds, but by the time you come to writing your last application, you'll have had plenty of practice. A candidate that is capable of selecting the relevant information and putting it across clearly and concisely will be obvious to the individual who reads the applications.

3- Don't panic

Graduate schemes are only one option, there are plenty of other routes you can take if you miss the deadlines, or you just don't want to apply.If you've followed my advice and prepared early, you'll be ready for anything.

Keeping on top of applications to graduate schemes requires organisational skills. Fortunately, these skills are often part of what employers are looking for, so this can count as practise. Finally, in addition to the initial application, some graduate schemes require you to submit your CV, so make sure yours is up to date and really sells you. Your CV is the window through which the employer will see you, so if it looks dull and is riddled with mistakes, the employer will see you as exactly the type of person they DON'T want to hire. Spend a bit of time on your CV; it'll be worth it when you get yourself into the career you've always dreamed of. With your first wage, treat yourself to something special for working hard, you deserve it.