Being accepted onto a company's graduate scheme is a notable achievement. Competition for places is fierce; employers receive 39 applications for every role, and therefore only the cream of the crop make the grade.
If you have recently succeeded in an application for a graduate scheme then congratulations - unfortunately, the vast majority of your peers will end up in non-scheme graduate jobs. You've bucked that trend, which is truly an accomplishment to be proud of.
Graduate scheme placements come with many benefits. You will be placed into varied and interesting roles, likely with the opportunity to gain experience in many different parts of a business. You'll probably be paid a little more than colleagues in a similar position. Many companies offer bespoke coaching and development for their graduates. If you are in a specialist field such as HR or finance, your company may pay for your post-graduate qualifications. In short, this is a fantastic position to be in.
However, these perks come with their pitfalls, and it's important to recognise and prepare for them upfront. Doing so will give you the edge required to succeed.
Your employer will expect above average performance.
As a graduate scheme employee, you've been handpicked from a vast pool of potential candidates. You are viewed as the cream of the crop - the absolute best of the best. These expectations can feel a little overwhelming at first. But remember, there's a reason you have been placed in the position you have found yourself in - you proved your potential during the recruitment process.
Now you have the opportunity to live up to that potential. Be prepared to work hard - to go above and beyond the obvious expectations. Look for small opportunities to show what you're made of. Learn to recognise feedback, in its many guises, and act upon it accordingly. It's the little things that will add up to make all the difference in your early days.
Your non-graduate-scheme colleagues don't necessarily enjoy the same advantages as you.
Life as a non-graduate employee can be tough. Often, the career path of employees in this position begins in a low paid trainee position, and any promotions will be hard won over the course of several years. To see a fresh-faced, often very inexperienced graduate join the team in a position that could be perceived as privileged can be hard to swallow.
Sometimes, this can lead to animosity directed towards you, both explicitly or indirectly. This can feel hurtful. You know you've worked hard to get to where you are - that you deserve the position you've been placed in - but try to look at things from their point of view and recognise that any show of resentment isn't really aimed at you. It's more likely to come from their own career frustrations.
The best way to approach this scenario is with empathy. Consider how your colleagues may feel about the addition of a graduate to their team, and act accordingly. Ask them for advice and guidance. Show them that you recognise their experience and knowledge. Offer to help with the more menial jobs - don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Once they see that you are willing to be a team player and that you are positioning yourself as an equal, they are much more likely to accept and support you.
Your years on a graduate scheme will be enormously rewarding and hugely beneficial to your career trajectory. Approach the early days with an open mind, an open heart and a willingness to learn and work hard. The more you take this advice on board, the more fruitful your experience will be.
Kate Jones writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse the graduate jobs Manchester and London have to offer, visit their website.
Image Credit: Ben Blennerhassett