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August 4, 2021, by jhillary1

From Graduate to Graduate Scheme and Everything Inbetween

By Max Cooper, BA Hons History graduate

I’ll start by saying that I never considered myself to be within the bracket of students who got placed on internships or graduate schemes. If I can get a place on a graduate scheme then the vast majority can provided that they prepare accordingly. What I believe allowed me to get ahead of the rest at my assessment centre was my level of preparation – quality not quantity!

The scheme

I applied for a place on the Business Graduate Scheme at Lloyd’s of London, and I would be lying if I said I did not think I was applying for Lloyds TSB at first! Prior to this I never had a particular interest in insurance; hence I was unaware of Lloyd’s of London, aka. Lloyd’s Insurance Market. In summary, though: this programme consists of four different six-month placements within the business for a total of two years, with no particular focus on insurance. What appealed to me most about this scheme was the rotations. I still do not know what I want to do with my career so the more rotations/exposure/experience the better! With regards to the company, Lloyd’s is an incredibly international organisation with centuries of history, which speaks for itself, quite frankly. What made me want to apply for graduate schemes is the unparalleled training and development opportunities. The way I see it, these companies are investing in their graduates. These schemes are set up to give you the strongest foundation possible for the rest of your career.

Applying and the recruitment process

Finding the position was not difficult. The way I approached it was by making a long list of companies to which I wanted to apply to, followed by some speculative emails asking for further details. Once I had applied to the companies on this list, I began researching what other graduate schemes were out there on sites such as Bright Network. Low and behold, Lloyd’s of London came about (no it was not on my initial list).

The recruitment process took a while. I applied in October and got the offer in March. That said, the duration of the process did not exactly reflect the amount of effort I had to put in. Rather, it just meant I had to keep track of what stage I was at. I decided to keep an excel spreadsheet detailing all my applications and what stage I was at, which was a great decision, this really helped bring a bit of clarity to what can be a chaotic process. The final stage, the assessment centre, was a week long. I had networking on Monday and Friday, and three assessments on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: analytical exercise, interview, and group exercise. The online element was surprisingly seamless, I was impressed.

Advice from the Careers and Employability Service

I sought advice from friends who had gone through similar processes and from the Careers and Employability Service. Speaking to the Careers and Employability Service offered me some well-structured advice and tips, and speaking to current employees at Lloyd’s on LinkedIn allowed me to really hone in on what would be asked of me during the assessment centre! We take for granted how much information we have at our disposal these days; it absolutely must be utilised! This kind of resourcefulness is also worth mentioning briefly in an interview too, it shows how proactive you have been.

My advice

My advice to students looking to secure a graduate scheme would be: keep on top of your applications by using an online tracker or an excel document like me, be proactive in your research and really try to get a sense of what is being asked of you at each stage of the process. Before Lloyd’s, I fell into the trap of thinking that it was a case of one size fits all – it is not. Every company has its own culture and values and you really need to tap into these, so tailor your approach! I am going to quote Einstein here: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” What is also important during these interviews and assessment centres is that you must show your genuine passion for the company. It will be obvious to the interviewer/assessor whether you feel passionate about this role, and they can separate you from other interviewees. How to do this is to spend a lot of time researching the company, and to ask yourself why you want to join this company. If you were in a room by yourself, with no assessors around, then how would you justify your decision for applying?

Don’t forget that even as a graduate you can talk to our careers advisers about any graduate schemes and any aspect of your career.

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