Are graduate schemes worth it?

When you come to your final year, you are likely to hear friends discussing grad schemes and application processes for them. For many, they are seen as the holy grail in terms of finding a successful and fulfilling career path – but are graduate schemes worth it?

Grad schemes have a lot to offer, which is why they are often highly sought after. However before you dive into a process of blindly sending off CVs to every employer advertising, you should examine whether a grad scheme fits with your career ambitions and preferred way of working. 

To date, at Graduate Coach we have helped hundreds of final year students and graduates to get offers for graduate scheme programmes. In this article, we’ll run through the strengths and drawbacks of graduate schemes and help you to decide whether they’re right for you. 

What is a graduate scheme?

Put simply, a grad scheme is a structured training programme that should lead to a full-time job, if successful. They are typically office-based however, they may be public or customer-facing depending on the company.

For example, The Metropolitan police offer a two-year ‘graduate leadership programme‘ That guides graduate through the process of becoming fully warranted police officers. As a part of the programme, graduates will be required to engage with their local community in public.

You should also note that the training element of the scheme is usually designed for a specific role. This set-up means they are generally more structured than a graduate job. This structure could be more familiar to your experience of education up to now and give a clearer sense of what you will be doing from day one.

We have written a post called: what is a graduate scheme, check it out for more information.

How long is a grad scheme?

Their length can vary but will typically be between one and four years. Their set length is a key distinction when comparing them to a graduate job.

You should also know that graduate schemes are often rotational meaning that you can be placed in various roles and departments during the scheme. This could help you to find an area of the industry or company you enjoy.  

Why is a graduate scheme worth my time?

One of the obvious pulls to grad schemes has often been that they are generally a well-paid option. To take one example, Aldi’s graduate Area Manager’s starting salary is £44,000 (check), rising to £73,450 after four years and the position also comes with an expensed Audi A4 company car.

You obviously shouldn’t base your decision purely on the salary offered and another advantage to be aware of is the fact that your employer will invest in your training and development, which will have a positive impact on your long term career progression.

Perhaps the greatest pull to graduate schemes is the practical hands-on training that will be given to you by a support network of people with significant experience in their field. 

Upon successful completion of your graduate scheme, you may be offered a full-time permanent job within the company, which is great if you are seeking job security. If however, you do not like your graduate scheme or the company, you can decide to leave. Either way, you will have gained valuable work experience and a variety of transferable skills.

Which employers offer grad schemes?

You should know that graduate schemes are available in a huge range of industries this includes (but is not limited to):

  • Accounting and professional services
  • Banking and finance / law
  • Chemistry and pharmaceuticals
  • Consulting
  • Engineering/tech/IT/Digital
  • Human resources (HR)
  • Public sector /charity

The wide range of sectors available means you have a good chance of finding one that fits with your ambitions. 

Some popular employers which offer them include KPMG, PWC, Saatchi and Saatchi, Marks and Spencers.

What are the advantages of a grad scheme? 

While graduate programmes typically train you for a specific role, you should know that you don’t necessarily need to have studied a degree directly related to the position. 

This flexibility is a great strength and examples include KPMG’s tax advisory and trainee accountancy programmes, which regularly recruit graduates in History or English. 

Many of the Civil Service Fast Stream’s programmes also don’t require you to have studied any particular area so are worth researching.

The entry requirements can also vary widely as the Civil Service and Tesco, for example, list their minimum degree requirement as a 2:2. Aldi’s sought after area management scheme also asks for a 2:1, meaning it is open to a large proportion of graduates. 

A graduate scheme can be a great way to kick start your career and gain professional qualifications and valuable experiences. They can help you to discover your career path and to learn what roles are right for you.

Are there any drawbacks to doing a grad scheme?

Some graduates may favour joining a small-to-medium enterprise as a recent study from Accenture found that only one in five university finalists are interested in working for a large company after graduation. However, this could be down to lack of knowledge about range available (find others) 

It is worth knowing that some contracts can include “lock-in” clauses which can mean you have to pay back training costs of up to £10,000 if you leave your job less than two to three years after starting. 

This shows the importance of reading the small print of your contract before you agree to the terms and conditions and aiming to make sure that your career path suits you. Graduate Coach’s typology

Graduate Scheme Application Process

You may already know that graduate schemes’ selection processes are often long, rigorous and competitive. The Civil Service’s recruitment involves numerous rounds of online exams and exercises before you are invited to face-to-face stages. 

Generally, before being accepted on to a graduate programme, you will need to:

  • Submit an online CV along with a copy of your CV and cover letter
  • Complete online tests such as psychometric tests or game-based tests
  • Submit a video interview or attend a video interview via Skype
  • Attend an assessment centre

So, are graduate schemes worth it?

Graduate schemes are highly competitive. Graduate employers are looking for extremely high calibre candidates who will bring a lot of value to the company.

If you are able to get a place on a graduate scheme, you will reap many rewards, financially and in terms of career progression and development.

However, graduate schemes are not the only option for graduates. There are several other routes that you can take if you do not want to complete a graduate scheme or if you are unsuccessful in getting a place on a graduate programme.

Alternatives to graduate schemes include:

  • Graduate entry-level jobs
  • Graduate training programmes/academies such as QA
  • Internships for graduates

FAQs

Are graduate schemes only for recent graduates?

No, as long as you have a degree and meet the entry requirements for a graduate scheme, you can apply.

So if you graduated a few years ago and are wondering if a graduate scheme is worth it for you, don’t hesitate to send an application. Employers cannot discriminate against you based on age.

Read our post called Am I too old for a graduate scheme for more information.

Do you get paid for graduate schemes?

Yes. All graduate schemes are paid positions. As remuneration, graduates on these programmes are often entitled to other benefits which will depend on the company. They will also receive training and sometimes graduate employers will pay for graduates to get professional qualifications.

What can I do to increase my chances of getting a graduate scheme?

Graduate schemes are very competitive. Before you start your job search, it is vital that you take the time to assess your skills and attributes. This will help you to understand what you can offer the employer.

Also, before you apply for a graduate scheme, make sure that you have taken some time to research the company and role properly to ensure that you are the right fit.

Here at Graduate Coach, we offer a 6 stage 1-2-1 coaching programme for students and graduates who want to thrive in their graduate careers.

Stuck in a dead-end job with a degree? [There’s Hope]

Are you stuck in a dead-end job with a degree? If you are, you’re not alone. In fact, 48% of graduates end up being underemployed. Furthermore, 50% of graduates change their job after 2 years. If you’re in this situation, don’t despair- there’s hope, and we can help. 

It can be extremely frustrating when your current role isn’t aligned with your professional goals and career aspirations. The quickest way to discover your career path and re-energise your career is to get help from an experienced graduate coach. 

We have helped hundreds of graduates to escape from dead-end jobs and land graduate-level jobs at great companies.

Why you may be feeling stuck in a dead-end job even though you have a degree

Here’s why you might be feeling stuck in a dead-end job as a graduate:

  • After graduating, you took a job mainly for the money and to gain some experience but now you feel like you can’t leave.
  • You ‘panic applied’ for jobs after university and took the first offer you got without fully understanding the role.
  • The role isn’t challenging anymore and you have become comfortable at work. You don’t like this feeling but you are apprehensive to leave.
  • You feel as though your skills are becoming outdated and would like a role with more training and development opportunities.

Stuck in a dead-end job? Here’s how to escape with the help of a graduate coach

Here at Graduate Coach, we help students, graduates and career changers to turn their degree into a graduate career.

A graduate coach is a type of career coach who specialises in helping students, graduates and career changers with a degree to get the right graduate job. In order to achieve this, a graduate coach will help with everything from writing an achievement-based CV to teaching candidates how to perform highly in job interviews. 

Here’s how a graduate coach can help you to get a high-quality graduate-level job that is right for you: 

Identify your valuable skills

You will have gained a wide variety of transferable skills from your current role. Graduate recruiters will be particularly interested in finding out more about the skills you have and how you acquired them. 

There are 9 key employability skills that all graduate employers will expect graduates to have. 

The experience and skills you have gained so far will give you a competitive advantage when it comes to applying for graduate-level jobs. 

When candidates sign up for our 1-2-1 coaching programme we work with them to complete an audit of their current skills. This is a great starting point.

With our help, many candidates realise that they have many more skills and experiences than they thought. We then help graduates to understand why and how their skills and experiences are valuable to employers. 

Work out your career type

There are three career typologies for graduate jobs. Once you have worked out your career typology it will help you to identify what job roles would be right for you.

The diagram below illustrates the three different career typologies.

graduate job types

We help graduates to identify their graduate job typology, then explain which jobs would be right for them. This helps them to drastically narrow

Learn how to write a graduate CV and effective cover letter

Next, it’s time to work on your CV and cover letter. Getting these two documents right is vital.

They need to be good enough to convince the recruiter that you have the skills and competencies

As you have already gained some experience, you will find it much easier to craft both your CV and cover letter.

Here at Graduate Coach, we advise candidates to craft an achievement-based CV. This type of CV emphasises how you have used your skills to add value to the companies they have worked for.

Navigate the job search

The job search can be extremely overwhelming. It can be even more challenging if you are currently employed.

When the steps above are completed properly, navigating your job search will be much more strategic.

You will probably complete the majority of your job search online.

The Google job search tool makes it much easier to find relevant job vacancies. The tool lists job openings from around the web, based on the search term you enter.

Get interview training 

Being able to perform highly in interviews is a vital skill.

We offer interview coaching to graduates. Interview coaching is a wise investment as the skills and techniques you learn will stay with you for the rest of your career.

We guarantee success! 

We guarantee success with our 1-2-1 career coaching programme. Once you have landed your graduate job, we will continue to mentor you so that you can thrive in your new role. 

We hope this post has helped you if you feel as though you are stuck in a dead-end job with a degree. If you would benefit from our coaching services, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

If you are stuck in a dead-end job with a degree, get in touch with us. We can help you with our one-to-one coaching sessions (in-person or online), online courses and our books.

How to Search for a Job Online [Graduate Guide]

In this post, we will share some actionable tips on how to search for a job online!

We have collaborated with Jooble UK, a job search engine website that allows you to search for jobs that are posted all over the internet from one place. 

Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that we provide comprehensive coaching to help students, graduates and career changers who are looking for the right job. Not just any job. So if you are currently applying for jobs, check out our one-to-one coaching, interview coaching and online courses.

So without further ado, let’s begin!

How to search for a job online 

Here are 5 ways to search for a job online:

1: Job Search Engines

The chances are, much of your job search will be online. Luckily for you, searching for job openings on the web has become a lot easier over the years, thanks to job search engines.

Using job search engines is the quickest way to find jobs online.

How job search engines work

Job search engines work in a similar way to general search engines such as Google. They allow you to enter in keywords, then it shows you a list of results that are relevant to your search.

They work by gathering jobs from all over the internet from employer websites, recruitment agencies, job boards and more.

How to use a job search engine

Jooble job search engine
  1. Enter your keywords – this could be your desired job title.
  2. Enter in the location – i.e the town that you would like to work in
  3. Click ‘find jobs’
Jooble search engine

4. Use the filters on the left-hand side to narrow down the results.
5. Click the ‘x’ on each result to remove ant jobs that aren’t suitable.
6. Click on the search results that you are interested to find out more about the job and application details.
7. Enable the job alerts feature to be notified when a suitable job vacancy has been posted.

The benefits of using a job search engine

Using a job search engine is much quicker than going to each company’s site to see if they have any suitable roles. This makes your job hunt much easier!

2. Job boards

Job boards are another way to search for job opportunities online. They are websites that advertise job listings online.

Job boards for graduates

You can use job boards that are niche and specialise in advertising graduate jobs.

Some job boards allow you to submit a copy of your CV and notify you when relevant job opportunities are posted.

Here are a list of job boards for graduates:

3. Recruitment agency websites

Here’s another way to search for a job online – using recruitment agency websites.

Recruitment agencies often post job openings on behalf of their clients.

They won’t usually share details of the specific company so you will need to get in contact if you discover a job that you are interested in.

Recruitment agencies for graduates

Some recruitment agencies are specialised in helping specific job seekers. For example, some recruitment agencies specialise in recruiting digital professionals.

Here are some recruitment agencies for graduates:

4. Employer websites

When applying for graduate jobs or schemes, you might have some specific companies in mind.

For example, you might be sure of your career path, and know that you would like to apply for consulting programmes at PwC, Accenture and Deloitte.

In this case, it is a good idea to do a Google search for that particular company’s graduate opportunities.

Once you’ve located the relevant page, you can then find out more about the role such as the entry requirements and the application process.

Timing is very important if you are going to take this route as many graduate schemes at large companies open their applications in November and start making job offers as early as December for candidates to start the following spring/summer.

5. Social Media

Many job sites promote job vacancies on their social media channels. Therefore, it is possible to find out about job vacancies via social media.

Furthermore, some recruiters use social media to identify candidates that are suitable for roles that they are trying to fill. So it is important to maintain a professional brand online.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has built-in job search capabilities. You can use LinkedIn’s job search feature to find a graduate job or internship.

How to Search for a Job Online: Summary

We hope you found our post on how to search for a job online helpful. If you would like help finding a graduate-level job, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

How to Get a Job Offer Before Graduation

How amazing would it be to secure yourself a graduate job offer before graduation?

Picture yourself graduating with a good degree and starting off your graduate life with a top job.

You can make this dream a reality. However, you’ll have to put in a lot of work to make it happen.

In this post, we will share some top tips on how to get a graduate job before graduating.

#1: Engage with potential employers

Graduate employers want to attract top talent. In fact, they invest time and money in building up talent pipelines made up of students in their first year of university onwards.

There will be several opportunities to engage with graduate recruiters.

Tip: Don’t rely solely on your university to advertise these opportunities. Be proactive and seek opportunities to meet and engage with recruiters. Here are some ways to engage with graduate recruiters.

Graduate Careers Fairs

A careers fair is an event that brings together employers and recruiters with potential employees.

You will have the opportunity to attend careers fairs at your university or externally.

Action points:

Visit your university’s career site to see if there are any upcoming careers fairs being hosted at your university.

Conduct some research online to see if there are any upcoming graduate careers fairs that are being hosted externally.

You may want to start by checking out:

Getting first-hand insights from recruiters will inform you of opportunities and help you to send higher-quality applications. These insights can help to boost your chances of getting a graduate job before graduating.

Open Days

Many companies that hire graduates each year host open days or open evenings for prospective employees.

Open days are generally structured and involve panel interviews, speeches from members of staff and recent graduates and application advice sessions.

It is a good idea to attend these open days because you’ll:

  • Gain insights that will give you a competitive edge
  • Learn tips for your application
  • Have the opportunity to ask questions
  • Be told when the applications open for summer internships, placement years and graduate schemes

Networking Events

Be proactive and find relevant networking events to attend.

Many students feel apprehensive about attending networking events, however, you will become more comfortable with the concept of networking the more you do it.

You never know who you might meet when networking! You could end up landing a graduate job before graduating through someone you’ve got to know whilst at university.

Sometimes it’s not about who you know, but who you get to know.

Webinars

Some graduate recruiters host webinars online to connect with students and graduates who are prospective employees.

These webinars are usually held during the graduate recruitment application window. Check out our post on when to start looking for graduate jobs for more information on the recruitment application window for students and graduates.

Social Media

Social media is a great way to connect and engage with graduate recruiters.

Many of the top graduate recruiters have active Twitter accounts. Here are some examples of companies that have Twitter accounts where they post information about student and graduate opportunities:

Following these accounts on social media will help you to stay informed of application deadlines, tips and upcoming events.

#2: Gain work experience

We cannot stress the importance of getting work experience enough.

During your time at university, you will have several opportunities to gain work experience.

Work experience will help you to gain and develop key employability skills. Graduate recruiters will be looking for evidence of these skills.

Being able to demonstrate how you have gained transferable skills will drastically improve the quality of your applications.

Some students focus solely on achieving good grades. Whilst grades are important, they won’t help you to stand out amongst the competition.

Work experience can significantly boost your chances of getting a job offer before graduation.

Here are some ways that you can gain work experience:

Shadowing

Shadowing involves observing a professional in their job to gain a better understanding of their role.

Students and graduates shadow professionals when they want to see if a particular role is suitable for them.

After shadowing for a few days students and graduates will be in a better position to make informed decisions about the direction of their career.

Shadowing experiences differ from internships as they are generally unpaid and informal.

Work experience placements

Work experience placements generally last 1-2 weeks.

Completing a work experience placement will give you hands-on experience. Working on tasks under supervision will help you to develop core employability skills.

Not all work experience placements are advertised so sometimes you will need to proactively seek opportunities. This may involve sending your CV and cover letter speculatively to employers that you are interested in.

Job Offer Before Graduation

Summer Internships

The majority of companies that offer graduate jobs also offer summer internships.

Summer internships are incredibly competitive, however, if you manage to get yourself a place on a summer internship, you will significantly boost your chances of getting a graduate job offer before graduation.

This is because during your summer internship at a large company you will be assessed for your suitability for graduate programmes.

Summer internship programmes at larger companies are usually reserved for students who have finished their second year of university.

If you don’t get a place on a structured summer internship at a large company, apply for less structured internships at smaller companies. At smaller companies, you may be able to get an internship after your first year of university or your second year.

Summer internships will give you the opportunity to be immersed within a company’s culture and to develop your skills.

Placement years/ Industrial placement

Some university courses give you the option of completing a placement year or industrial placement as a part of your degree.

Students usually take their placement year after their second year of university.

Doing a placement year will give you a massive competitive advantage when it comes to applying for graduate jobs. This is because you will have gained a year of experience and received training.

After taking a placement year, you will be much more employable and you will have lots of real-life examples to demonstrate your skills in interviews.

Part-time jobs

It is a good idea to get a part-time job whilst you are studying. As well as gaining transferable skills you will also learn how to effectively manage your time.

Graduate recruiters will be looking for evidence of your ability to manage your time well.

If you are thinking of getting a part-time job that you can fit around your studies, you can start by seeing if there are any vacancies at your university.

#3: Take part in extra-curricular activities

It is a good idea to come across as being an all-rounder. Graduate recruiters will be interested in candidates who have broader interests outside of academics.

Adding extra-curricular experiences to your CV will help you to stand out. Furthermore, these experiences will give you more experiences to talk about during your job interviews.

Here are some examples of extra-curricular activities:

Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to give back to society whilst gaining new experiences.

Whilst you are at university, you will gain several opportunities to get involved in volunteering activities.

You can also find volunteering opportunities on sites such as:

Volunteering can help you to gain a wide range of transferable skills. You could also find a volunteering opportunity that gives you experience that is relevant to the type of job you’d like to pursue after university.

Here are some benefits of volunteering whilst you are at university:

  • Enhances your CV and helps you to stand out
  • Helps you to gain new experiences and skills
  • Gives you the opportunity to meet new people and build your network

Becoming a member of a society

From freshers week, you will be encouraged to join societies. There are several types of student societies that you can join whilst at university such as:

  • Academic societies
  • Cultural societies
  • Faith-based societies
  • Special interest societies
  • Career-based societies

Attending society meetings on a frequent basis will help you to meet new people and enrich your university experience.

Taking up a leadership role within a society such as being the president or vice president will help you to stand out when applying for graduate jobs.

Pursue your hobbies

When your workload gets heavy, it can be easy to drop your hobbies. However, if you manage your time effectively, you’ll be able to enjoy your hobbies whilst pursuing your degree.

lady taking photo

#4: Get a Copy of The Student Book

The Student Book was written by Chris Davies, the founder of Graduate Coach.

The book contains everything you need to know to get the job you really want.

Topics include: writing achievement-based CVs, working out what job are right for you and identifying your key skills and attributes.

Here’s a testimonial from a candidate we helped to get a graduate-level job.

The book is laid out in an easy to follow format and is designed to help students to get a job offer before graduation.

#5: Craft an achievement-based CV

Getting your graduate CV right is vital.

Graduate recruiters will scan your CV looking for evidence of your key skills.

Some tips for writing your CV whilst you are at university

  • Be sure to highlight your key employability skills
  • Use bullet points to give examples of how you gained and developed your skillset
  • Include your university name course and predicted grade in the education section
  • Utilise CV templates
  • include your extracurricular activities and achievements

#6: Optimise your Linkedin profile

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to getting a graduate job offer.

You can use Linkedin to:

  • Search for graduate and entry-level jobs
  • Connect with recruiters and hiring managers that you meet at networking events
  • Stay in touch with your peers and colleagues
  • Search job titles that you are interested in to find out the skills and experiences recruiters are looking for

Recruiters also use a paid version of LinkedIn called LinkedIn recruiter to find suitable candidates.

Therefore, it is important that your profile is updated and demonstrates your competencies.

#7: Practise online tests

The majority of the most competitive graduate schemes will require you to complete online tests.

Some candidates struggle with these online tests. To improve your performance on these tests, complete practise tests and take the time to understand what the employer is looking for.

  • Use Graduate Benchmark to find out your strengths and weaknesses when completing aptitude tests. Graduate Benchmark was created by Assessment Day and TargetJobs.

#8: Learn how to perform highly in interviews

Learning how to perform highly in interviews is a vital life-long skill.

Many students and graduate find interviews difficult. This is because we are not given adequate interview training during our academic career.

During the application process for graduate jobs you may be required to complete several interviews including:

Knowing how to nail these different types of interviews will boost your chances of getting a job offer.

We have put together an online interview course called Nail That Interview.

The course has been designed to help you to refine your interview technique and to feel more confident during your interviews.

#9: Get a Graduate Coach

A graduate careers coach will help you to do more than get a full-time graduate job. A graduate coach will

  • Ensure that you get the right graduate job for you
  • Help you to discover your career path
  • Mentor you once you’ve started working
  • Help you to build your confidence and self-esteem

Here at Graduate Coach, we have been helped over 500 students and graduates to get their dream jobs.

We have helped a large number of students who were keen to get a graduate job offer before graduation to achieve this and more.

Getting a job offer before graduation

Thanks for taking to read this post! We hope the advice we shared will help you to achieve your goal of getting a graduate job offer before graduation.

The graduate job market is extremely competitive, so taking the actions mentioned in this blog post as soon as possible will help you to boost your chances of success.

Confused about Career after Graduation? [Help is Here]

Many students feel confused about their career. If you are feeling this way, don’t worry – it’s completely normal.

In this post, we’ll share some tips on what to do if you feel confused about your career after graduating.

Why you are feeling confused about your career

As we mentioned above, it is completely normal to feel confused about your career after graduation. In fact, you may also be feeling lost or maybe a bit unhappy. Many graduates report that they have experienced these emotions after university.

You’ve probably got a bunch of questions whirling around in your mind right now, and it’s all a bit confusing! Here are some of the questions you might have:

What type of graduate job is right for me?

Are you confused about your career options after graduating?

Not many people are aware of this, but graduate jobs can be categorised into three groups.

  • Specialist
  • Knowledge architect
  • Communicator

We’ll explain each of these three typologies and how to work out which group you are aligned to later in this post.

types of graduate job

Without understanding these career typologies, many graduates feel really confused.

This is due to the fact that 90% of degrees are non-vocational. This means employers may not be looking to hire a graduate based on specific knowledge they gained in their degree.

If you studied nursing, for example, you’d be hired into a nursing role because of the specific expertise you gained during your degree. Therefore you’d be classed as a specialist.

However, if you studied Business Studies, you may not be hired on the basis of your knowledge, but because of your transferable skills, experience and ability to thrive in the role and company. Therefore, you could be a communicator or a knowledge architect.

To illustrate this, you may have noticed that many graduate opportunities welcome applicants from any degree discipline.

Many graduates get confused into thinking that because they studied geography for example, they can only apply for geography-related roles but this is untrue.

What’s the difference between a graduate scheme and a graduate job?

If you have recently graduated, you might be confused as to whether you should apply for graduate schemes or graduate jobs.

Graduate scheme tends to be highly structured programmes. They are mainly focused on training and development. During a graduate scheme, you may be required to rotate around different departments over the course of a year or longer.

You can do a graduate scheme programme in many different areas such as technology, consulting, engineering, HR, sales, marketing and many other areas.

If a graduate scheme sounds right for you but you have recently graduated, you might need to wait until September to apply for graduate programmes that will start the following year from June/July onwards.

If you graduated a year ago or more you can still apply – check out our post called: Am I too old for a graduate scheme?

Graduate jobs tend to be less structured and have flexible start dates. If you already have an idea of what area you would like to go into, perhaps a graduate job is for you.

How do I work out what roles to apply for?

You may be perplexed by the number of different graduate job titles there are.

There are over a thousand different job titles for graduates out there and knowing which ones to apply for can be confusing.

Working out which of the three career types you align with and understanding your skills will drastically help you to narrow down your job search and identify what roles to apply for.

When is the best apply for graduate opportunities?

Now that you understand the difference between graduate jobs and graduate schemes, you will have a better understanding of when to apply for graduate opportunities.

If you are hoping to apply for graduate schemes at large companies you may need to wait for the next application window. Check out our post on when to apply for graduate schemes.

If you are hoping to apply for graduate jobs at smaller company, you can apply for these all year round. This is because they take on new grads depending on their business need.

I’m struggling to get a graduate job, what should I do?

Many graduates struggle to land a graduate job. It is a distressing fact, but 48% of graduates do not secure a graduate-level job and remain underemployed.

The competition for grraduate-level jobs is fierce. You are not just competing with graduates who graduated at the same time as you but with graduates who graduated years ago.

Read our post on what to do if you are struggling to find a job after university.

What to do if you are confused about your career after graduation

Now we will identify solutions for graduates who are confused about their career after university.

Analyse your skills and interests

We usually advise confused graduates to audit their skills.

This is a great starting point for working out what types of jobs would be right for you.

All graduates regardless of what they studied will be expected to have key employability skills.

You will need to demonstrate and show evidence of your skills throughout the entire application process.

Work out your career typology

As we mentioned above, there are three main career types.

  • Specialists are hired into graduate roles for their specific knowledge
  • Knowledge architects are hired into graduate roles for their ability to derive insights from data
  • Communicators are hired into graduate roles for their ability to form great relationships both internally and externally.

We explain the three career typologies in much more detail in The Student Book.

Write an achievement-based CV

Writing your first graduate CV can be difficult especially if you haven’t yet gained any work experience.

Your CV needs to be strong enough to convince potential employers that you have the skills and competencies to perform highly in the job.

Tip: Ensure that you strengthen your CV before applying for jobs.

Here are some tips for your graduate CV:

  • Make sure your CV is formatted correctly
  • Tailor your CV to every graduate opportunity that you apply for
  • Keep your CV concise to highlight the most relevant information

Get really good at performing well in interviews

Once you have identified your career typology, your skills and the right roles to apply for you’ll feel a lot less confused about your job search.

The next step is to get your applications to a high standard and to stand out amongst the competition.

It is better to send out fewer high-quality job applications than several low-quality ones.

In order to secure your graduate job, you will be required to complete several types of interviews.

Being able to perform highly in job interviews is a lifelong skill.

As a part of your graduate job applications, you may need to complete telephone interviews, video interviews, face-to-face interviews and assessment centres.

Do you want to improve your interview technique and become more confident in interview settings? Look into our interview coaching programme for professional training.

Confused about career after graduation: Summary

Thanks for taking the time to read our post for uni levers who are feeling confused about their career after graduation.

We hope that you found the information helpful. Hundreds of confused graduates have come to us for our help. If you would like some 1-2-1 career coaching, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We will help you to discover your career path and land your dream graduate job.

confused about career after graduation

Set [& Achieve] your Career Goals for the New Year

You want to make the upcoming year AMAZING. New skills, more responsibility, great relationships with your colleagues, promotions, job offers…you want it all. 

Whether you want to find a new job in January or progress in your current role, the new year represents a new beginning and a chance to reflect and plan your career success. 

In this post, we will share tips on setting career goals for the new year! Ready for a fresh start? Read on!

1. Conduct an audit of your skills

Before you start setting career goals for the new year, it is a good idea to assess your current situation.

Completing an audit of your skills is a good starting point.

Start by writing down all of the skills you have gained or developed over the past year.

As you take an inventory of your current set of skills, you may find yourself thinking about the skills that you would like to gain – jot these down.

2. Identify a gap in your skillset and work on it

Once you have mapped out your skills work out what skills you need to gain or improve in order to progress in his role.

One way to identify gaps in your skillset is to look at a range of job descriptions that are related to your current role and seeing what skills you would benefit from gaining or developing.

You can also determine what skills you need to work on from your annual progress report or feedback from your line manager.

The 70:20:10 model for learning and development

The 70:20:10 model for learning and development suggests a proportional breakdown of how people learn effectively.

Lombardo and Eichinger expressed their rationale behind the model by explaining that development begins with a realisation of current or future need and the motivation to do something about it.

Based on a survey of 200 executives, findings revealed that development is:

  • 70% learning on-the-job experiences such as working on problems
  • 20% from feedback and insights from others
  • 10% from taking courses and reading
The 70:20:10 model of learning and development

Create a career development plan for the new year using this 70:20:10 model.

Answer these questions:

  • How can you develop your skills within your current role?
  • Are there any opportunities for you to learn more from others in the workplace? Could you attend lunch and learn sessions for example?
  • Could you take any online or in-person courses that would help you to develop your skills in a particular area?

Identifying the actions that you can take to develop will help you to set career goals for the new year.

3. List the things you have been unhappy with this year

Has there been something bothering you at work over the past 12 months?

When setting your career goals for the new year, take how you generally feel at work into consideration.

There are many reasons why people feel unhappy at work. They may feel bored. The hours may be too long. Maybe they aren’t getting on with their co-workers. Perhaps the pay is too low.

Think about what you aren’t happy with at work, and note it down. Once it is written down think of a solution and how you could implement the solution in the new year.

The solution might be relatively easy to implement such as setting up a meeting with your boss to discuss how you could more effectively manage your workload and time more effectively. However, the solution might be more challenging such as finding a new role if you simply do not fit the company’s culture.

Check out this quiz to assess whether it is time to get a new job.

4. Set SMART career goals for the new year

After reflecting on your skills and thinking about how you have felt at work over the past 12 months, the next step is to set some SMART goals.

Smart is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

SMART goal setting for your career

Using this acronym will help you to structure your career goals for the new year.

List your career goals. When writing out your goals make them:

  • as specific as possible by including figures where possible
  • measurable by including an indication of how you will know when the career goal has been achieved
  • attainable and realistic so that it is possible to achieve them
  • timely to ensure the goal is achieved within a set period

5. Schedule check-in points to stay accountable

As well as setting smart career goals for the new year, it is a great idea to schedule in some checkpoints to reflect on your goals and to assess your progress. Here are some tips for staying accountable:

  • Set aside 20 minutes every month to review your progress
  • Tell your family and friends about your goals and ask them to follow up with you
  • Commit to regular sessions with a career coach – a coach will help you with goal setting and achieving your career goals
  • Take daily notes in a journal or planner

6. Get a career coach

Here at Graduate Coach, we help students, graduates and career changers to land their dream jobs.

If your new year’s resolution is to thrive at work in the right role for you, get in touch with us today.

We can help you to:

  • Feel confident in your interviews by offering interview coaching sessions
  • Leverage your professional and personal brand online
  • Set you up for long term success in the career that is right for you
  • Strategically navigate your job search
  • Get the promotion that you deserve and negotiate your next salary

The beginning of the year is a great time to invest in your career although, you can start your coaching programme with us at any time. The first step to achieving your goals is to contact us.

Thanks for taking the time to read our post on setting career goals for the new year! We wish you all the best for the upcoming year.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out these posts to help you to land your dream job this year:

The Graduate Dilemma: Large Corporate or SME?

After three or four years of study, most students emerge from university eager to roll up their sleeves and embark on an exciting career in the world of work. While some opt for postgraduate study or take a gap year to travel, the majority of graduates are on the lookout for their dream job.

Deciding on a career path and the type of company to work for is a huge dilemma. Many graduates are left wondering: “Should I work at a large company or a small one after graduating?”

If you are a recent graduate, you might be deciding whether you should apply for a structured graduate scheme at a larger company, or opt for a graduate-level job at an SME.

To come to a decision, it’s best to weigh up the pros and the cons of working for a smaller business vs working for a larger one. While you may have heard good or bad things about working for either, each has its own merits. 

Read on to find out which is best for you.

What is the fundamental difference between an SME and a large corporate?

An SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) is defined by the European Commission in accordance with the number of its employees. SMEs employ up to 250 people. Once the staff headcount reaches 250, the organisation is defined as a large business.

As a guideline, generally in the UK, micro-businesses consist of up to 10 employees, small businesses have between 10 and 49 employees and medium-sized enterprises consist of 50 to 250 employees.

Working at a Smaller company: The pros

SMEs represent 99.9 per cent of the UK’s businesses, so chances are you will work for one at some point. If you’re the entrepreneurial type, you may even decide to set up a small business yourself! If you do decide to take this route, take a look at our post on how to market your first business.

There are many benefits of working for a smaller business. The main pros are:

  • Friendlier: smaller businesses are generally friendlier with a more family feel to them. With less staff, it is easier to get to know everyone in the company. Many small businesses are actually husband and wife partnerships or have been formed by friends.
  • Different experiences: in a smaller business you are much more likely to gain broader practical experience than in a specialist department in a large business. Small businesses generally offer greater opportunities for different work experiences and discovering new skills.
  • Recognition: In a small business you will have much greater access to the decision-makers which could get you noticed and promoted quicker. Your efforts are much more likely to be recognised when you stand out in a smaller crowd.
  • Flatter hierarchy: in a small business you’ll likely experience a much flatter hierarchy and be able to forge a close relationship with your manager.
  • Greater flexibility: rules in small businesses are much less entrenched. You’ll likely experience much greater flexibility, such as the opportunity to work from home or enjoy flexible working hours. Larger businesses tend to be more bureaucratic so there are more hoops to jump through to get things done than in a small business.

Working in a large corporate: The pros

what size company should I work for?

In a large corporate you will definitely start out as a small fish in a very big pond, and this route isn’t for everyone. But here are some of the many pros of working for a larger organisation:

  • Structure: if you are the type of person who thrives on structure and organisation, then a large corporation could be just the place for you to kick-start your career. In a large corporate there will be tried and tested rules, best practices and guidelines to follow.

    You will also have clear objectives to measure performance, which may be lacking and frustrating in a smaller business.
  • Training: if you secure yourself a place on a placement scheme you will undergo a specific training programme depending on your role and the company.
  • Specialisms: if you are keen to advance your knowledge in a specialist area, you are probably going to find this easier in a larger business. The smaller the business, the more hats you are likely going to be asked to wear.
  • Salary: generally (though this isn’t always the case) salaries tend to be higher in large corporations. 
  • Job security: there tends to be greater job security in more established organisations. Even though well-established large businesses can go to the wall, smaller businesses are more vulnerable to failure. According to a report by Merchant Savvy, roughly 80 per cent of UK companies fail in their first year and only 44.1 per cent of businesses survive beyond 5 years.
  • Opportunities: in most cases, there are more opportunities to progress in a large corporation. Graduates especially can enjoy a structured programme to climb up the career ladder.

Don’t forget to consider culture

Whatever type of business you feel will suit you best, you should also consider carefully the culture of any organisation you are stepping into. What are the company’s values, perks, benefits?

How do they treat their employees? Employee turnover is a strong indicator of culture and you’ll find both good and bad cultures across the spectrum of employers from micro-business to large scale organisations.

Your future

If two job descriptions look the same but one is for small business and one is for a large corporation, which one do you choose? Consider the pros and cons of each type of business. Which structure would suit you best?

Delve into the culture and go with your heart. Ultimately, whatever path you choose, it doesn’t have to be for life. You can, after all, choose to switch camp in your next role.

If you need help finding your first graduate job, get in touch with us. We offer one-to-one career coaching for students and graduates.

How to Get a Consulting Internship

Are you a student with your heart set on becoming a consultant? If so, getting a summer internship at a consulting firm will help you to achieve your goal. In this post, we will share tips on how to get a consulting internship. 

Ways to strengthen your consulting internship application

Here are some tips for making a successful consulting internship application:

1. Do some Pro Bono consulting work

Look out for opportunities to do some voluntary consulting work. As a university student, there are a few organisations that you can join to gain consulting experience. 

Here are some examples:

180 Degrees Consulting

180 Degrees consulting provides socially conscious organisations with consulting services. The organisation connects top university students with companies in need of consulting services to help with improving marketing, expansion, measure impact and more. 

There are many benefits of joining 180 Degrees consulting:

  • Gain hands-on work experience
  • Get professional training 
  • Experience what a career in consulting would be like
  • Develop your problem-solving skills

Visit their website to find out how you can apply to become a consultant at 180 Degrees Consulting

First Step Consulting 

First step consulting is a non-profit social enterprise. It helps organisations to refine their business strategies and capitalise on growth opportunities. 

Students can volunteer as a management consulting volunteer. 89% of First Step Consulting volunteers report feeling more confident about their career prospects after completing the programme. 

Fill out this application to become a pro bono management consultant 

How to get a consulting internship top tip: Gaining these voluntary experiences will help you to develop a wide range of skills that are required for consultants such as problem-solving and communication skills. 

Having this experience will help your CV to stand out and boost your internship application.

2: Complete a virtual consulting internship

You can complete a virtual consulting internship online on a site called InsideSherpa.

InsideSherpa hosts a wide range of company-backed, free open access virtual internships.

A wide range of top companies have joined the platform to host their virtual internships and digital experiences.

Here are some free virtual consulting experiences that you may be interested in:

Deloitte Tech Consulting Virtual Internship – on this programme, you’ll learn about cloud engineering, tech strategy & innovation and optimisation and delivery. This programme takes between 5-6 hours to complete.

Accenture Future Innovator in Training – this programme will give you an insight into what it is like working on a project that mirrors the skills the team members at Accenture demonstrate in the workplace.

InsideSherpa have specific guidelines outlining how to include this experience on your CV.

These experiences will demonstrate your passion for a career in consulting and show that you have an idea of what the job will entail.

3. Attend Networking Events and open days

Attending networking events will give you the opportunity to speak to professionals in the industry directly. Getting first-hand insights from consultants will help you to send higher-quality consulting internship applications.

Many of the top consultancy firms attend careers fairs and host open days.

Join Bright Network

Bright Network hosts several events each year specifically for students who aspire to become consultants.

The events give students the opportunity to meet staff from consulting companies.

You can then mention your attendance to these events on your CV and LinkedIn profile.

4. Understand what type of consulting role you would like to go into

Consulting is the professional practice of providing an organisation with expert advice.

Consultants work in a wide range of industries. They typically specialise in a specific area such as:

  • Management consulting
  • Strategy consulting
  • Technology consulting
  • Human resource consulting

Tip: when sending your consulting internship application, make it clear that you understand the different types of consulting roles.

5. Prepare adequately for your consulting internship

You will need to pass interviews in order to successfully get a place on a consulting internship programme.

Consulting interviews are typically split into two halves: a personal interview and case study questions.

It is really important that you understand the structure of the interview and what graduate recruiters are looking for.

Get Interview Coaching

Performing highly in interviews is a lifelong skill. As we are not taught how to do well in interviews during our academic careers, many students and graduates find them difficult. You can give yourself a competitive advantage in interviews by getting interview coaching.

Here at Graduate Coach, we offer interview coaching for students and graduates who aspire to become consultants. We have helped candidates to get offers from professional services companies such as PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Accenture.

We hope our guide on how to get a consulting internship has been useful. Consulting internships and graduate schemes are very competitive so it is important to make your application stand out.

FAQs

How to get a consulting internship with no experience?

If you would like to apply for consulting internships but do not have any experience yet, leverage the transferable skills from your extracurricular or academic experiences. You can also complete a virtual consulting internship within 5-6 hours on InsideSherpa to provide you with some insights into consulting.

When should I apply for consulting internships?

Consulting summer internships at large companies are usually open for students in their second year of university to apply for.

How to get an internship at BCG

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is an American management consultancy firm. With over 90 offices in 50 different countries.

Consulting interns at BCG generally spend 2-3 months with the firm. Some interns at BCG get the opportunity to travel giving them the opportunity to meet other interns.

Find out more about how to apply for the consulting internship at BCG here.

What is a Placement Year? [and how to find one]

Have you been considering a year in industry or “sandwich year” as part of your degree? 

Whether you have heard of them and want to know more or you are already considering one, we will cover all you need to know in this article. 

So, what is a placement year? 

If you did work experience at secondary school or an internship while studying, either of these will give you some sense of the experience of a placement year.

During an internship or work experience, you are likely to be given some training and a taste of the working life of an industry. However, a work placement puts you in the heart of a company’s workings with a greater amount of responsibility.

If you choose to undertake a placement year you will be placed in a role that is very similar to a graduate-level job and will work similar hours to those you would expect in one. 

While you will likely have to apply for internships and positions are often competitive, a placement year is an agreement with a company to employ you for a year.

When do I do a placement year?

Placement years normally take place in your third year, often meaning three-year courses are extended to four years. 

After completing your second year, you work for an employer before returning to university for your final year of study. 

This means they normally run from July through to September of the next academic year as term starts again. However, the length can vary between nine and thirteen months.

You should also know that you remain a student at your university during your placement. You will generally be given one core assignment and progress reports to complete and normally have a placement tutor for these.

What are graduate employers looking for?

A recent study found that almost two-thirds of employers said that when reviewing applications, having experience is the most important asset for a candidate.

On top of this, the same study found that more than two-thirds of employers think candidates put too much emphasis on qualifications and not enough on experience.

Despite this, a large proportion of graduates will leave university with either limited experience of the world of work or no experience relevant to their degree.

Graduate employers are looking for evidence of key employability skills such as communication, teamwork, the ability to use initiative and more. Completing a placement year can help you to develop these skills.

Why might you want to do a placement as part of your course?

In light of research on recruiters’ views, doing a placement year means you will leave university with an automatic headstart on many other graduates. 

If you are still unsure about which job might suit you, a placement year can give you the chance to see up close whether you would enjoy the career path you are considering.

Another benefit is the ability to earn while you learn. You can expect to pay half your normal tuition fees for your placement year, although some universities don’t charge students on placement any fees. You can expect to be paid between £12,000 and £18,000. The average pay will vary based on the sector you work in. 

Additionally, many companies offer graduates positions on successfully completing their placement and may even offer to cover tuition fees for your final year.

The responsibility involved in the real risk and reward of employment can also be an exciting change from hypothetically discussing ideas and theories in a seminar or lecture hall. 

Placement years can also give an opportunity to spend a year abroad, learning about a different culture. For language students, in particular, this can help to develop skills they have been building at university.

How to organise a year in industry

One of the first steps to a year in industry should be contacting your tutor to look into any possible course requirements for placement opportunities.

When to apply for placement year opportunities

A lot of employers will start advertising their vacancies in the autumn term so it is a good idea to look around early in the year. 

Large graduate recruiters in particular tend to start recruitment early and it is worth checking deadlines if you have your heart set on a specific company. 

However, some employers will advertise placement opportunities until the end of September so you may still be able to do one if you decide to later in the year.

Some courses may also include a placement in which the organisation is allocated to you automatically. 

How to find a placement year opportunity

Many large corporations offer placement year opportunities to candidates who are in their penultimate year of study. 

Some examples include: JP Morgan, Unilever, PwC and more. 

Websites to help you to find a placement

Many SMEs also offer industrial placement programmes for undergraduate students, so do not dismiss these opportunities. 

Some undergraduate students decide to undertake a placement year abroad. An international placement will give you both valuable work experience and the opportunity to live in another country. 

Here are some websites to help you to find a placement year abroad:

Finding a placement year opportunity can be difficult. When looking for a placement, conduct research online and remember to use your network. 

Tip: follow the companies you are interested in on social media as they may advertise placement opportunities there. 

The application process for placement programmes 

Applying for a placement is quite similar to applying for a graduate scheme or a graduate job. The exact process will vary depending on the company but in general, you will need to:

  • Fill out an online application
  • Complete online tests 
  • Submit a video interview or complete a telephone interview
  • Attend an assessment centre or final stage interview

The process can be quite time-consuming. Aim to send off fewer high-quality applications rather than lots of low-quality ones.  

Tip: Be sure to tailor every placement application to the company that you are applying for. 

Building valuable employability skills 

While many of the skills graduate recruiters look for can be developed in your time at university, a year in industry can provide a useful chance to build these. Your placement experience will give you high-quality examples to use when making graduate scheme applications.

Skills you can develop include:

  • Successfully organising and working in a team
  • Giving clear and well-researched presentations
  • Project management
  • Negotiating with colleagues and clients 
  • Demonstrating efficient organisation

These skills are all part of your time at university.  However, honing them in the world of work will give a helping hand when the time comes to write covering letters and fill in job applications.

Check out our post on the most important skills for finding a job

Boosting employability

A year in industry will also give you a useful experience of interview processes and assessment centres for when you reach your final year. 

Application processes can take place over the course of months and require travel meaning you may miss some lectures. You should weigh this up in your decision but know that tutors will often be able to provide work to catch up.

You will also leave university with a further qualification, helping to boost your employability

Your supervisor for your placement could also act as a useful reference for job applications in the future. 

If you are particularly worried about getting a graduate job after university, completing a placement year will help you to discover your career path. 

Finally, a year in industry can also give an obvious boost to your network of contacts in industries you may want to work in.

Take a look at our post looking at whether your university is doing enough to help your job prospects

Overcoming possible issues 

You should know that some courses will not offer a placement year. However, discussing this with your course leader may be worth your time, as it is their goal for you to graduate with the best possible prospects. 

Some courses which have recently started to offer a year of practical training include:

  • Business Studies
  • Marketing
  • Pharmacology
  • Music

You may also wish to weigh up the experience of returning to university after some of your coursemates have graduated. 

This is worth thinking about but also know that with more and more university students going on to Master’s and other postgrad courses, it may be less of an issue than in the past.  

What is a placement: Summary

We hope you enjoyed this post on placement years! We strongly advise you to consider doing a placement year as part of your degree. The experience will significantly enhance your employability and help you to get a graduate-level job. 

What should you do once you find a placement? 

Once you’ve secured a placement, it is really important that you inform your university as soon as possible. 

They will guide you through the next steps. 

FAQs 

Here are some frequently asked questions related to placement years 

Are placement years worth it? 

If you are considering completing a placement as a part of your degree, you are probably wondering if it will be worth it. Whilst doing a placement year will mean that you will graduate a year later, there are many benefits to doing one. Perhaps the most significant benefit is the impact that it will have on your employability.  

Doing a placement year as part of your degree will also help you to get the most out of your time at university! Many people consider placement years to be worth it for that reason.  

Do you still get a student loan on a placement year? 

It is best to check with your university to see if you will be required to pay tuition fees during your placement year. You may be able to receive a maintenance loan or grant.