A Graduate Training Scheme is an excellent way to jump start your career. Schemes can take many different formats depending on the employer; but usually allow graduates to experience multiple aspects of both the role and the organisation as a whole by rotating through the business in a series of 'mini-placements'. Formal graduate training schemes generally last approximately one year, although can be longer - again, it depends on the specific employer programme. Graduate schemes usually offer a combination of "on-the-job" and possibly formal residential training programmes. They may also include the opportunity to study for a professional qualification during normal working hours e.g. accounting (ACCA), or marketing (CIM).
Many graduate schemes include mentoring programmes with senior management which is a valuable way to grow your network of contacts. Being one of the "latest graduate cohort" is celebrated with most organisations and you will probably be mentioned in internal PR and company publications. It will do wonders for your profile.
There are usually a limited number of spaces available on any graduate training scheme, so employers set minimum requirements to qualify for entry. Usually these will be a set criteria for example "You will already possess a good academic record (20/320+ UCAS points) and be expecting a 2:1 degree or higher in any discipline."
A typical graduate training scheme will entail:
- Induction Period: an introduction to the business, structure and culture.
- Possible relocation: Schemes could be located at sites across the UK, you must be willing to travel or temporarily relocate.
- Formal & Informal Training: Generally work place skills including project management, people management, decision making, negotiation and communication skills are covered across many of the company business units e.g. Marketing, Internal Communications, Finance, Operations, Strategy, Sales and Human Resources. These can be project based roles or working in teams, and often (but not always) graduates are assessed during this time.
- Professional Qualification Study: Although companies do not insist you study for professional qualifications, many provide advice and support if you wish to do so. Many graduates wait until the end of the programme to pursue a professional qualification when they have decided what area they want to specialise in. Relevant courses could include those offered by CIMA or the ICSA.
- Mentoring 'Buddies': Often a mentor is assigned, these are often a Senior Manager or Director. Your mentor's role is to offer valuable ongoing advice on your career goals and how best to achieve them. You could also be assigned a 'Buddy', typically this is someone who has recently completed the graduate scheme, with whom you can share thoughts and ideas and can provide you with support.
- Completion & Deployment: Once completed the company will place you in the role that you both feel most comfortable for your skills and attributes. Usually this will be a junior managerial role, with the opportunity to fulfil your potential by quickly progressing through the organisation.
Apply for graduate schemes.