You've probably heard about graduate schemes, but how much do you actually know about them?
From your very first university open day all the way through to graduation, you'll frequently but often fleetingly be encouraged to take an interest in graduate schemes. Whether it's through a careers fair or a friend who's managed to secure a place on one, they are, for the most part, always a potential part of your future, not something you need to think about yet.
Or do you?
Beyond the fact that they're one of several career options available to you after university, there's lots more that you need to, but probably don't yet, know about graduate schemes.
1. You usually need to apply for them long before you've graduated.
Graduate schemes have set application windows, which typically open from September of your final year of university and close sooner or later over the following few months. So, although the scheme may not start for almost another year, you need to be on the ball with your application to avoid missing the deadline. If you do miss it, you'll have to wait until next year's recruitment drive to try again.
2. They are highly competitive.
There are only a limited number of places on each graduate scheme, even those within large, corporate businesses. With so many more graduates applying than there are places, the recruitment process is very competitive and can take a long time. During the time between you submitting your application and receiving the offer of a place on a scheme, you might be expected to take psychometric tests, attend assessment centres and participate in training days.
3. Many graduate schemes require you to have a 2:1 or above.
While some graduate schemes will accept graduates with a 2:2, many ask that you have at least a 2:1 to apply. If you know that you want a place on a graduate scheme, it's worth doing your research and ensuring you're on-track for the degree grade that you need.
4. You'll follow a structured training programme.
Unlike starting a regular job in which you'll be expected to jump in at the deep and do that job from day one, graduate schemes are designed - unsurprisingly - with new graduates in mind. You can expect to receive high quality training throughout the programme, plugging essential skills gaps and providing you with the experience that you likely don't have yet.
5. You might get to rotate around the company.
As part of your training, many graduate schemes will give you the opportunity to rotate around the company, learning about and experiencing different aspects of a business. This can be particularly beneficial if you're not 100% sure what you want to do yet within a given industry. You might go into the scheme thinking you want to do one thing and come out of it knowing you're much better-suited to something else entirely.
6. You could be given the chance to continue gaining qualifications.
Whether it's a professional qualification to help kick-start your career in a specific industry or a Master's degree to allow you to keep adding to your CV, if you're not yet ready to leave education behind, graduate schemes are a good way to go. More often than not, and especially if you need these qualifications to successfully complete the scheme, they will be funded by the company you join.
7. The salaries tend to be higher than you'd be offered in an entry-level graduate job.
Generally, you can expect to be offered a higher salary for a graduate scheme than you would for a graduate job. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that, unlike in a graduate job, your progression is dictated by a structured training programme and not by how well you prove yourself over time.
8. You're not guaranteed a job at the end of the scheme.
Securing a place on a graduate scheme only guarantees you employment for the duration of the scheme, which could be anything between 12 to 36 months. Once completed, you could find yourself back where you started: looking for a job. Although many companies can and do offer full-time roles to their graduates, there'll only be a limited number of them to go around, meaning that competition will be as fierce as it was to join the scheme in the first place.
Want a graduate scheme that does guarantee you a job at the end?
You've still got time to apply to E.ON's Customer Operations Leadership Graduate Scheme, through which you'll gain all the skills and experience you need for a future in a key managerial position within B2C, professional qualifications in Applied Management and a full-time role waiting for you at the end of the two-year programme.
Sound good? Click here to find out more and apply.