Schemes, programmes, jobs…
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. (For the sake of this article, I’m going to stick to programmes.)
Secondly, there are some ways in which graduate programmes differ from 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, sometimes three, and are mostly ran by large organisations with regular graduate intakes. Due to their size and scale, these companies require steady streams of graduates who have the potential to become future leaders of the business. However, that’s not to say that small and medium-sized companies don’t offer graduate programmes, too.
Rotations & professional development
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, and this has a number of advantages.
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. It also provides great networking opportunities, as on rotation graduates will work with people from various teams and perhaps different offices.
These rotations are part of a wider emphasis on professional training and development. Programmes also often provide graduates with the opportunity to gain professional qualifications – for example, graduate programmes may offer a planned route to, and support towards, Chartership.
Support & mentorship
Some people may find starting a new role daunting or be anxious about the prospect of moving around the business – especially in large organisations. Because of this, graduate programmes have fantastic support systems in place. Graduates are typically paired with a buddy or mentor, who can serve as a friendly face and first port of call, and offer advice on everything from finding accommodation, to solving technical challenges.
But can I stay?
One of the common misconceptions surrounding graduate programmes is that you will have to leave the company after completing the programme – and that just isn’t the case.
The employer is looking for future leaders of the business, hence why they invest in your training for two to three years. They have an interest in helping you secure a permanent role after you finish the programme.
What’s more – having undertaken multiple rotations, you’ll have a better idea of where you’d like your career to go, and the experience you need to progress in your chosen direction. Therefore, you are shaping your future career from the moment you start the programme.
Sign me up!
Applications typically open in the Autumn – in time for the new academic year – and opportunities start to close throughout November and December. We recommend applying as early as you can before you get into the thick of your dissertation and final year exams.
Graduate programmes can be quite competitive due to their limited number of spaces and their fast-track route to managerial positions. Consequently, they usually have longer recruitment processes including online tests, multiple interviews, and assessment centres. If you want to stand out and impress recruiters throughout the application process, have a good look around the Gradcracker CareerCentre – you’ll find everything you need to know.
Start your search
If you’d like an opportunity which provides a broad overview of the business and the chance to determine your own direction, then a graduate programme could be the perfect start to your career.
Head to our Job Search where your ideal graduate programme awaits!