January 8, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

Why I Chose a Graduate Scheme and How I Landed My Place on One

By Alex McQuillan, MEng Mechanical Engineering (2016)

During my final year, I decided to apply for graduate schemes because I wanted a definitive progression system and structure including set salary increases, professional development courses and rotations around various departments. I felt that working in different departments would give me a better understanding of a company and then I could choose the area most suited to me.

Don’t be too picky when applying for jobs

Don’t just apply for your dream job, make several applications as you can always turn offers down later. I made 15 applications to companies, both large and small, with each application taking a couple of hours to complete. I passed the first stage with five companies and then had to do online tests, video interviews, phone interviews and finally assessment centres. With some companies, the recruitment process can take up to six months.

Two job offers, one choice

I received two job offers and chose to accept a place with Weatherford, one of the largest oil and gas service companies in the world, on their two-year graduate Mechanical Design Engineering Scheme. I decided to join them because they were a local company with the opportunity to travel abroad. Also, they offered me the chance to study towards Chartered status with colleagues acting as mentors.

My job involves a lot of CAD design of parts for oil rig equipment but I also liaise with subcontractors, help with manufacturing, assembling and testing on site. I already have a lot of responsibilities and it feels great working in part of a team on real-life tasks. I’ve been on a few courses around the UK to further my professional development and it feels that the company really want to push me and get the best out of me.

Overcoming interview nerves

I can probably say that I have completed 90% of the different types of interviews you may go through and there is nothing that you cannot cope with. Just prepare as much as possible and do your best. Here are my top tips for interview success:

  • Learn about the company’s objectives and their history as this shows you are genuinely interested in the company
  • Give examples of your experiences which demonstrate your skills. Really try and get some work experience in the summer or take a year-long placement.
  • Show that there is more to you than exam grades. Social skills play an important role and being able to communicate easily with colleagues is a desired attribute. If you come across as an enthusiastic and approachable person with a willingness to take on new roles, you’ll probably get the job.

Overall, just keep applying for jobs. The more interviews you do, the better you’ll get. Don’t let rejections put you off; you will be the perfect candidate for someone.

Did you graduate in 2017? Please take our annual destinations survey and share your next steps now. Fancy writing for our blog? Email us now. 

If you’re looking for graduate training schemes, check out our sources of vacancies. Need help completing an application form or preparing for an assessment centre? Don’t worry, we’ve got every stage of the recruitment process covered on our website.

Posted in Applying for jobsFinal years