Graduate looking down

November 8, 2019, by Leah Sharpe

There’s More Than One Way to Get A Graduate Job

By Shelley Ashenden, Senior Careers Adviser

It’s that time of year when there’s an energy and buzz around campus with many employers attending our careers fairs and promoting their graduate opportunities through recruitment presentations. However, it is worth remembering that although graduate schemes are often the most visible option to students, they only account for about 10% of the job opportunities available. They may not even exist or be the most suitable route depending on the type of work or sector you want to go into.

1. The obvious: graduate schemes

Formal ‘graduate schemes’ tend to be offered by large employers who recruit high numbers of graduates each year, such as the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, MARS and PwC. These structured schemes usually combine work rotations with training, so you gain exposure to a variety of departments within your chosen business stream. Graduate schemes can last between one and three years and although not all guarantee a permanent job at the end, many companies (having invested so much into individuals) aim to retain their graduates. The application process is usually lengthy and competitive, so it’s worth preparing effectively by accessing a number of resources available on the careers website. I would particularly suggest practising psychometric tests as this is when most applicants are rejected from the process.

2. Don’t underestimate ‘direct entry’ positions

These formal schemes are highly competitive so if you are keen to work for a large employer but are unsuccessful in getting on a ‘graduate scheme’ you don’t need to despair. There are other routes available. Large employers including GSK and the Civil Service have a range of ‘direct entry’ positions that are advertised on a rolling basis. Many of these vacancies within a specific department are suited to graduates and you will be trained on the job. As these opportunities are for immediate start, many positions will be advertised in late spring/summer on company websites or through online portals like LinkedIn.

3. Keep an eye on SMEs

Don’t forget the huge opportunity presented by small and medium-sized companies who seek motivated and high calibre graduates but don’t have structured schemes. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often the perfect choice if you want to get straight into a position where you might experience a wider range of work tasks and responsibilities within a less hierarchical structure. As SMEs may recruit to one or two positions, job vacancies are advertised in the spring/summer and the application process is often less arduous than larger companies.

4. Get your foot in the door – media and third sector organisations

If you are keen to work in the charity, arts or media sectors you may find your first job after graduating will be an entry level position such as a TV runner, publishing assistant or administrator. In such sectors, formal graduate or training schemes are few and far between and you will likely need to get your foot in the door and work your way up. See these roles as a stepping stone to gaining essential experience and developing crucial networks that will help you progress in your chosen field. Opportunities can be found on online job portals, and many are often ‘hidden’ so you may need to develop your networks or make speculative enquiries to organisations of interest. You might want to gain further insight and advice from alumni working in your sector of interest through accessing our Career Mentoring programme.

It may feel as though everyone is applying for jobs with the big corporate companies and sometimes we get fixated with the need to gain a ‘graduate scheme’ position. However, depending on the work you want to do, you may find that accessing work in a particular sector may actually be by ‘direct entry’ or ‘entry level’ roles.

Come and have a chat to one of our career advisers about the opportunities and routes into certain sectors or hear about the career pathways of professionals at one of our many Spotlight On events. 

Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your CareerGraduate Vacancies