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An introduction to graduate schemes

A graduate scheme is a great way to start work for a large company, gain experience in many areas and integrate yourself into the workplace after university.

Young professional image What is a graduate scheme?

A graduate training scheme is a programme available to students finishing university, giving them a chance to move straight into a job within a big organisation, and continue their education within industry. Often starting with the new academic year, they’re a great way to get a taster of working life, easing you into the workplace environment whilst helping you become more focused and disciplined. You’ll often be given a mentor to guide and support you and many people find that on completion they are offered a permanent role within the organisation.

They usually last from one to three years, can vary in salary (but all offer one) and mainly give graduates the chance to rotate around a company’s different departments before deciding where they’d like to focus their career. Training is given throughout, and sometimes graduates can even gain a further qualification at the end of the scheme.

There are hundreds of schemes available, and many are IET accredited.

How do I apply?

These positions are in high demand and competition is tough, so get prepared and do your research. Apply early; don’t leave things until the last minute.

Start by checking out company websites to find out more about their schemes and ask your university lecturers and faculty for advice. Once you’ve chosen a few suitable companies, its time to contact them and apply. You’ll either have an old school application form to fill in or possibly one online. This will ask about your experience, skills and the usual situational questions about motivation and teamwork. 

Take your time with these as the majority of screening is done during this phase, so make sure you sell yourself well. Different organisations will test applicants in a manner of ways from phone interviews and assessment days through to psychometric testing and panel interviews. It’s not an easy ride, but if you are offered a place, you’ll see that the trials were worth the gains.

Read some of our other articles in the graduate schemes section for more information on the application process.

Are they worth it?

In a nutshell yes. Pay may be less than a usual full-time position, however you get the chance to experience many areas within the business and receive further training and support. It’s a great way in to working for a large business, and the extra support is invaluable.