August 16, 2016, by Jackie Thompson
How I Secured a Place on a Graduate Training Scheme
By Tim Calderhead, BA Joint Hons Philosophy and Theology, graduated 2013
I decided a graduate training scheme was right for me for two reasons: I wanted to be part of a cohort of colleagues my own age, and work for a company that provided lots of opportunities both internally and internationally. After 37 job applications I secured myself a role on the Telefonica Retail Management scheme.
Learning about the business
The two-year training programme was structured with four six-month rotations in different areas of the business.
- My first rotation was working in a local store in a customer facing role, gaining exposure to how a retail store works and what our teams experience on the ground
- My second was in the Retail Trade team, understanding how our stores performed and driving sales in focus areas
- The third was working in the Governance and Planning team, giving me a top-down view of everything going on in Stores, and working with senior leadership teams
- I have now moved into my final role in the Continuous Improvement team, who manage change delivery and operational improvements within our Store estate
My responsibility has ranged from managing the trading performance of a category while in the trading team, to collating reporting to share up to CEO level in my governance and planning role. I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered amazing exposure across and upward within our business, opportunities which I don’t believe I would be offered anywhere else.
Developing my business skills
In terms of on the job training, my cohort of 40 graduates attend training courses once every month or so, which is usually off-site (and occasionally overnight) where we can work and train together. Topics include leadership training, working within volatile environments, understanding personality types and networking.
It all started at Nottingham
My time at Nottingham was more than just a degree. As my degree doesn’t naturally lend itself to finding work in business, I had to improvise.
For me, the societies were key; I was on the leadership team of the Debating Union for two years as well as organising events for the Howard League for Penal Reform group. I also got involved in rowing and badminton, as well as the usual stuff – Ocean on Friday interspersed with time in the library.
They were great ways to develop my teamwork skills – without subjecting myself to the pain of group tasks as part of my studies – leadership skills, event organisation, budgeting, marketing and communications.
My top two tips for applying for graduate training schemes
My advice to those in their final year considering applying for graduate schemes is two-fold:
1) Don’t stop applying
A colleague has, on more than one occasion, called me ‘tenacious’. Companies won’t call you up asking how brilliant you are – you need to go find them and tell them why you’re a great hire.
It might feel dispiriting when you’re on the receiving end of your thirtieth rejection, but being able to pick yourself up after something hasn’t gone your way is a great skill to learn both professionally and personally. Watch Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk on grit for great examples.
2) Develop and leverage your network
For many networking is a dirty word – they see it as a cutthroat ‘use and abuse’ where you clamber over people to get what you want – when actually it’s how businesses work and people get jobs.
Attend the presentations companies host on campus and speak to as many people as possible. The Careers team, have a list of graduates, like myself, who work in all sorts of industries who will be more than willing to help a fellow alumnus out – find out about Career Mentoring.
Once you join the working world, develop your professional network – both inside and outside your company. Not only can you secure new jobs but it will vital for a successful career.
If you want to find out about graduate jobs, Career Mentoring, making successful application and networking, visit our website and talk to a member of our team. If you’re no longer in Nottingham, we can also offer support remotely, email us at email@example.com.
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