What to Look for When Applying to Grad Schemes

Grad schemes are entry-level structured training programmes offered by many large employers. The schemes usually last between one to two years and may focus on a particular role, or involve various placements across different functions within a business. Grad schemes are well-publicised but highly competitive. If you are a final year student or recent graduate interested in applying, read Nathan’s article on some important things to consider.
Graduate schemes are a popular way to enter the full-time job market for recent university leavers. They’re designed to help graduates develop practical skills and technical knowledge by learning on the job and earning a generous entry-level salary.
However, not all grad schemes are created equal, and some are more valuable than others in kick-starting your career. If you’re set to graduate soon and are considering your next steps, here are three important things to look for when applying to grad schemes.


Photo: MD Duran, Unsplash

1. Variety of placements, training & skills development

Rotational graduate schemes involve multiple placements across several different departments within an organisation. These are an excellent way to develop general knowledge of an industry and get practical experience to help you decide how you’d like to specialise. When considering these schemes, assess the variety of placements and ask yourself if you’ll get a comprehensive understanding of the various functions of the organisation.
On a similar note, consider the knowledge and skills you’ll develop across the graduate scheme. At the end of your time with the company you might find yourself applying for jobs in different industries, so it’s important that you have plenty of transferable skills. Some grad schemes include attainment of a new qualification, so look out for these opportunities and find out how the qualification could support your career progression.


Photo: Domenico Loia, Unsplash

2. Remote & hybrid work opportunities

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic generated a temporary surge in remote work in 2020, permanent remote and hybrid work opportunities have been on the rise. Many people find that remote work offers greater work-life balance than office-based work. There’s no time or money wasted on a commute, there are fewer distractions, and it’s easier to create a comfortable working environment that lets you be as productive as possible.
A recent survey suggests that employee happiness increases by up to 20% with the ability to work remotely, so it makes sense that many graduates are keen to find remote grad schemes. Depending on the nature of the industry and role, some schemes may not be compatible with remote work, as in-person training and networking could be essential. However, even in these cases you can look out for hybrid or flexible setups where you can spend some of your working hours at home and some in the office.


Photo: Javier Allegue Barros, Unsplash

3. Career progression opportunities when the scheme ends

Some organisations offer permanent roles upon successful completion of their grad schemes. You might find that there are only a limited number of permanent positions available and that not all graduates on the scheme will be offered a job. Make sure you know where you’ll stand at the end of the scheme so that you can be prepared to start hunting for permanent employment at the right time.
For schemes that don’t offer the prospect of a future role, consider other career progression opportunities. For example, some organisations offer networking events to help graduates connect with industry professionals and bolster future job prospects. A good grad scheme could also help to connect you with a career mentor. Research has shown that individuals who are mentored receive promotions five times more often than those who are not mentored.

Research is key to landing the right grad scheme

Graduate schemes are highly competitive. A key factor in success is applying for schemes that suit your interests and career goals, so that your passion is clear to the interviewer. By considering the three factors outlined above, you can focus on tailoring your applications to schemes that look to be the best fit for you.

Find out more:

Graduate Training Schemes
The benefits, need-to-know info about the selection process, plus tips to boost your chances of success

Grad Bites: Graduate Schemes
Graduates & employers talk about the value of graduate programmes & offer tips for tackling the application process

Alternatives to Grad Schemes
Although they can offer a great start to your career, corporate grad schemes are not for everyone. Explore some good alternatives here



About the Author

Nathan describes himself as an Aquaman (if there is such a thing!).  You’ll find him on the beach, whenever life permits. The pandemic taught him to explore and enjoy places as much as possible, and to appreciate healthy eating.  He hopes to visit more virgin islands in the future with his lovely wife, KC.


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