Graduate Schemes: are they for me?

Why has everyone started talking about graduate schemes all of a sudden?! If you’re not sure about what a graduate scheme actually is and if it’s for you, we’ve got the basics covered.

Written by Kareem Belfon, Communications and Marketing Intern at the Careers Service. 

iStock_000013630859Small Hire meSo, what is a graduate scheme?

  • Graduate schemes are structured training programmes that allow recent graduates to gain experience in large organisations.
  • They usually last for 1-3 years.
  • Although many different organisations offer graduate schemes, they are typically found in sectors such as banking and finance, business and management, consulting and healthcare. There are some graduate schemes focusing on HR, public sector and charities but not as many.
  • A large number of graduate schemes open their application window in September and October in preparation for intake the following year (i.e. when you graduate).
  • You don’t have to apply for graduate schemes straight after you graduate. You can usually apply a few years after you graduate too. It’s best to double check this with each individual company.


Sounds good!

If you’re thinking about applying for a graduate scheme – great! You’ll probably be working for a large and well respected organisation with a well-structured programme that provides you with tonnes of training and a great chance to network. If you like the idea of working for a larger organisation, a graduate scheme might be for you.

Not to scare you off, but it’s important to take into account just how competitive graduate schemes are. As many graduate programmes are open to students from all degrees, there are often a vast number of applications for a very small amount of positions. Of course, I know you’re all brilliant and more than capable of succeeding, but it’s important to size up the competition.

As well as this, the applications for these positions open earlier than you might think. You should really be thinking about preparing your applications as early as possible as a lot of the large companies will close their applications by December or January. Because of this, it would be a good idea to get to grips with things like psychometric tests, video interviews and assessment centres. Yep, I know, they’re kind of daunting. The very thought of these types of interviews used to scare the life out of me. To get over my fear, I used The Careers Service website to read up on the different types of assessments and how best to tackle them. Using the information on our website will give you a better understanding of what will be asked of you and you’re given loads of opportunities to practice too.

Not for you?

As a recent English Literature and Linguistics graduate, I know more than anyone the confusion that comes with graduate schemes. As someone who wanted a creative career I knew that a graduate scheme wasn’t for me, but I felt like it was the only option. A lot of my mates studying STEM subjects were on the ball with their graduate job applications by October time whilst I watched on in confusion. I wasn’t interested in working for a large corporate organisation but I was worried I would end up without a job if I didn’t apply.

This couldn’t be further from the truth!

There’s a large emphasis put on graduate schemes for a number of reasons. Partly because they recruit a lot earlier than other positions, partly because of how well known the companies that usually offer grad schemes are. In fact, only around 10-15% of graduates actually end up in a graduate scheme, with the majority going into entry level graduate jobs or internships for smaller companies. Don’t feel disheartened if the prospect of a graduate scheme doesn’t appeal to you; there are so many different ways you can land a graduate job.

If you’re thinking about applying for a graduate scheme, get in touch with the Careers Service for advice on how to best prepare yourself for the interview process. You can visit our website to read some application advice and take a look on CareersLink to find out which graduate schemes are already accepting applications. Good luck!

good luck


One response to “Graduate Schemes: are they for me?”

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