What Is a Graduate Programme?

What is a graduate programme? 

In short, a graduate programme (also known as a graduate scheme) is an entry level employment program you can apply for as long as you’re a graduate with a degree. The main purpose of a graduate programme is to provide graduates with training, experience, and development opportunities to kick-start their professional careers after university. 

The duration of graduate programmes will differ from company to company, but they typically last anywhere from 1-4 years. In terms of entry requirements, again, they will be different for every organisation, but you’ll usually need at least a 2:1 degree. Some places will allow a 2:2 if you have a strong CV and relevant experience. 

What to look for in graduate schemes.

With so many graduate schemes around it’s crucial that you choose the right one for you and your personal/professional interests. 

Here are 4 things to look for in graduate schemes:

  1. Training and development opportunities
  2. Company culture
  3. Testimonials and success stories
  4. Salary and extra benefits

1. Training and development opportunities.

One of the most important aspects of a graduate scheme is its development and career progression opportunities. So, when narrowing down your grad schemes, be sure to assess the training and development opportunities within the scheme. This could be mentoring, workshops, comprehensive training and other opportunities for personal development.

You should also have a good understanding of how the graduate scheme supports career progression, i.e. does the business offer opportunities for promotion in the future? Does the business offer a clear career path?

What Is a Graduate Programme?
It’s always best to go for graduate schemes that are known for providing mentorship and guidance for their graduates.

At this stage, you should also consider what type of structure you would like to work around. For example, would you rather a rotational structure where you would be exposed to different areas of the business, or would you prefer a more specialised structure that focuses on one specific area of the business?

2. Company culture.

Company reputation and culture is also something you should take into consideration when looking at graduate schemes. Find out the company’s culture, brand values and overall reputation, and if these align with your personal views then chances are you’d have a positive working experience.

You can gauge a company’s culture in a number of ways. Try having a look on their Instagram or LinkedIn page as many companies like to show their culture via social media. A quick Google search might also bring up some interesting information about the business’s culture and reputation. You will generally be able to find the company values on their website, so be sure to check that out. 

You may also be able to find these things out simply by reading employee testimonials, which brings us nicely onto our next point. 

3. Testimonials and success stories.

Whether you’re booking a hotel or buying a car, reviews are a great indicator of the company’s reliability and how satisfied you will be with the purchase. And it’s just the same when looking for graduate schemes.

Look for information about the company’s past graduate scheme participants. Assess their career progression after completing the scheme and determine if it aligns with your long-term career goals. You can usually find these on the company website or social media pages. 

4. Salary and extra benefits.

It’s also important to fully understand the salary structure and benefits package offered by each graduate scheme. While there are other (possibly more important) deciding factors, it’s important you go with a grad scheme that you feel meets your financial needs.

What Is a Graduate Programme?
Some common benefits to look for are pension schemes, health insurance, wellness benefits like a gym membership, travel support and holiday leave.

Graduate scheme application tips.

While the application process will differ from company to company, there are certain tips and tricks that will help the process run as smoothly as possible. 

Here are 4 top graduate scheme application tips: 

  • Do lots of research and apply early.

To have the best possible chance of finding the perfect grad scheme for you, you must carry out research. Try to find as many suitable grad schemes as possible and conduct research on each company, taking into consideration all of the points mentioned above. Once you’ve found the grad schemes that interest you, start applying!

What Is a Graduate Programme?

  • Ensure your CV is up-to-date. 

It goes without saying that you should take some time prior to applying to ensure your CV is up to date and includes as much relevant information as possible which can help you stand out from the rest. It’s no secret that graduate schemes are competitive, and companies will get hundreds of applications for each role, so you must dedicate time and effort into making your CV as good as it can be. 

  • Tailor your application to each company.

This one might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to do this. It might take more time than simply copy and pasting each application, but treat each application as a blank slate. Look at each company’s values and use them within your application. Be sure to relate your answers to each individual company in terms of what they’re expecting from you and why you’d be the best fit for that particular role. This will make your application more personable and help you stand out from the competition. 

  •  Get some experience under your belt. 

As mentioned, competition can be tough in some industries. It may help if you’ve gained some experience by carrying out: an internship scheme, a work experience placement, an insight day or a placement year. 

Think about it like this, if it’s between you and another candidate, each with the exact same grades and similar skills, but one of you has more experience, even if it be one or two days at an internship, chances are that person will be favoured.

And there we have it! Hopefully this article has provided you with a better understanding of graduate schemes and how to go about finding the right grad scheme for you. To learn more about the wonderful world of university and student life, check out our student blog page.

Written by Kate for Host.

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