Companies of all shapes and sizes recruit graduates for their specialist knowledge and skills in the hope that they will become future leaders of the business.
Because of this, graduate opportunities are heavily focussed on training and development. While some programmes may be more structured, others might deliver training on an ad hoc basis. Whatever the case, you can expect wide-ranging opportunities to progress in your career – often including the opportunity to gain Chartered status.
Graduates typically get to experience working on multiple projects and are quickly exposed to different teams and areas within the business. This enables graduates to gain a broad understanding of the company, widen their skillset and progress to positions of responsibility.
Embracing new opportunities and challenges is key to identifying your strengths and finding where your interests lie – which is why Gradcracker always encourages graduates to be as flexible and open-minded as possible when starting their first permanent position.
Schemes, programmes, jobs…what's the difference?
Students often ask us what a graduate scheme or graduate programme is, and how it differs from a regular graduate or entry-level job. Firstly, graduate schemes and graduate programmes are the same thing; they may be called schemes or programmes, depending on the employer.
Secondly, there are some ways in which graduate programmes differ from regular graduate jobs. Both are fantastic opportunities for graduates and a great way to get onto the career ladder. That said, it’s important that you understand the distinction when hunting for jobs so that you can find and apply to the opportunities that best suit you and your career aspirations.
Graduate programmes are easy to identify, as they will often contain the term ‘scheme’ or ‘programme’ in the job title. They are typically two years long and are mostly run by large organisations with regular graduate intakes. Due to their size and scale, these companies require steady streams of graduates, but that’s not to say that small and medium-sized companies don’t offer graduate programmes too.
About graduate programmes
Whereas in regular graduate jobs the roles tend to be more fixed, on graduate programmes graduates can be placed in a specific role or area but they are likely to undergo multiple rotations. During rotations, graduates experience different roles and/or areas of the business.
For employers, the rotational nature of the programme is key to progressing graduates into areas of responsibility. It not only gives them a rounded knowledge of the business, but also allows the employer to identify where each graduate particularly excels.
For the graduates themselves, experiencing multiple rotations will help them find where their interests lie. Graduate programmes might suit graduates who are less certain, or more flexible, in terms of what type of role they'd like to do once they graduate. By the end of the programme, you’ll have the experience and knowledge to decide on your next steps in the organisation.
Applying to graduate opportunities
For graduate programmes, applications typically open in the Autumn – in time for the new academic year. We recommend applying as early as you can before you get into the thick of your dissertation and final year exams.
For graduate jobs, vacancies arise all year round – particularly for companies that only recruit one or a few graduates at a time or require someone to start immediately.
Graduate opportunities can be very competitive due to their limited number of spaces and their fast-track route to senior positions. Consequently, their recruitment processes can be quite thorough and include online tests, multiple interviews, and assessment centres.
Details about what each graduate opportunity entails can be found in its job description. (Head to Gradcracker to start searching!)