Graduate scheme season has now passed, but what happens if you missed the deadlines or didn't manage to secure your place?

Graduate schemes are viewed as the Holy Grail for many graduates who want an early leg-up in their careers. They offer a combination of training, usually with a prestigious organisation, along with a structured career path and plenty of perks along the way.

But what happens if the deadlines passed you by or you were unsuccessful with your applications? Don't worry there are plenty of options out there.

Graduate schemes are rare

A common misconception among student and graduate job hunters are that graduate schemes are the main option for university leavers. They are not, in fact they are quite the opposite. There are often limits on graduate scheme spaces at organisations and the majority of you may find competition just too fierce.

Do not forsake your career ambitions because you were unable to land your preferred graduate scheme – they are not the be-all and end-all. If you have managed to get onto a graduate scheme – well done! But don't beat yourself up if you haven't because there's so many more options out there.

Variety is the spice of life

Graduate schemes are innovative but structured periods of employment which shape successful applicants into slick employees. But what happens if you don't want to start on the same career ladder for your working life?

A study by LinkedIn showed that job hopping has almost doubled in the last 20 years. The study shows those who graduated between 2006 and 2010 would work for around 3 different companies in the first five years of their career.

The author's explanations behind these numbers might explain a lot however. They point to specific sectors that see high levels of movement, most notably Media, professional services (areas like Accountancy, Finance and Consultancy) and Government/Education. These are all incredibly popular graduate sectors and offer graduate jobbers freedom for new opportunities and experiences and increased earning potential.

Graduate schemes are not just for Christmas

The traditional "milk round" period is on the wane with more and more employers opting to recruit graduates on a continual and more fluid basis throughout the year. This means you are no longer strapped to the September to December application window. So if you didn't manage to land a spot on your dream graduate scheme you might not have to wait 12 months to apply again.

On the job responsibility

Graduate schemes often boast thorough and impressive training programmes alongside the day-to-day work. While undoubtedly comforting for graduates nervous about taking their first steps, those in graduate jobs will have to spend a lot of their time learning on the job and developing their own methods of work.

The more unrestricted approach can suit graduates who don't want to follow a structured and carefully planned programme but prefer to get their hands dirty straight away and try and make an impact.

What's the rush?

Some graduates will know exactly where they want to go in life and how they want to spend their careers and that's fantastic. However, most graduates will be open to a fair few possibilities for their futures.

For students who have undertaken a few internships they have more of an idea of where the future lies for them, but still passions and motivations change for everyone. If you choose to go down the route of a graduate job, rather than a scheme you can enjoy the freedom of trying out one career path for 18 months without being tied into a three year graduate scheme.

As long as you're CV doesn't depict you as someone unable to hold down a position, what's the harm in gaining experience from a range of different fields? You've got your whole career to find what's right for you!

Just because you haven't got a place on a graduate scheme, doesn't mean you will have to settle. There are hundreds of amazing graduate opportunities – let's find yours now!

Image credit: Timothy Simon