Graduate schemes often seem like the way to go. As you’ve been in education all your life, a graduate scheme can be a pleasant ease into the world of work as you’re still provided with some structure. Not sure what a graduate scheme entails? Read on for our breakdown on what a graduate scheme is and whether this route will be the right one for you.

What is a graduate scheme?

A graduate scheme is a training programme that allows graduates to gain experience while on the job. Often, you’ll move around a business getting involved in different departments and learning various aspects, so you’re sure to gain a wide range of skills within your chosen industry.

The structure that a graduate scheme takes is entirely dependent on your chosen industry and the company you end up working for. However it will follow a set path, and you’ll be mentored throughout while gaining practical experience. You should leave a grad scheme feeling equipped with the knowledge required to pursue a career in that field.

Will I get paid on a graduate scheme?

Yes, graduate schemes are paid positions and you typically receive a higher annual salary on a scheme than you would with a general entry-level job. Depending on the industry and the employer, the salary can vary widely, however the UK average is around £27,000.

How long does a graduate scheme typically last?

Again, this is dependent on the chosen industry and the company. The timescale generally ranges from 1 year, up to four. You aren’t guaranteed to receive a permanent position within your company once you have completed the scheme, however if you’ve made a great impression it’s likely you’ll be first choice if there is a position comes up. Be sure to impress, but don’t hedge your bets on retaining employment. The scheme will however open many doors for you within your chosen industry, as you’ll have received high standard training.

Why should I choose to do a graduate scheme?

There are many benefits of getting onto a graduate programme. You’ll receive first-class training from those in the know and gain invaluable experience to carry through your entire career. Not only are gaining this experience and many new skills, you’ll also be paid well for it.

You’ll have the opportunity to move around the business and learn where you see yourself in your career. You may have a very specific idea of what you want to do, but a graduate scheme will enable you to explore more options for your future.

You may enter a company that trade nationally or even internationally and so there could be opportunity for you to travel, so it’s possible you’ll gain some great life experience too.

You’ll work among a host of influential people and make a bank of useful contacts that may serve you well in the future. Networking with people in your industry can present a huge range of opportunities, so be sure to talk to everyone that you can and be willing to learn from them.

You will be able to build upon the skills you’ve learnt during your university degree, while also learning new ones, to carry into your position that is catered to graduates that are straight out of university and new to working life.

Graduate schemes can work as a great first step onto the career ladder, bridging the gap between education and work. This will allow you to build your confidence in an environment that welcomes learning and growth.

Are there any downsides to graduate schemes?

Like most things in life, there are always going to be some downsides to a graduate scheme. This is where you can decide whether the positives outweigh the negatives. Indeed, the negatives may not be something that will phase you, but we want you to have all of the information.

As there are so many benefits to enrolling on a graduate scheme, it makes sense that they are incredibly competitive. However, this doesn’t mean you should doubt your potential to land one. There are things you can do to make your applications more likely to be successful. As the application process can take up a lot of your time (which could be considered another downside), you should be sure to narrow down the graduate schemes you’re interested in and only apply if you are genuinely excited about the role. Don’t feel you need to waste time applying for every scheme out there.

Most graduate schemes require you to have at least a 2:1 in your degree. All hope is not lost if you’ve achieved a 2:2 however, as there are some companies willing to take on graduates with this certification. Some graduate schemes now have their own assessment process, whereby they don’t take into account your degree level too.

Some graduate schemes require you to start from the very bottom and work your way up. If you’re keen to take on a higher level of responsibility from the outset, then an entry-level position may be a better route for you. However, don’t forget that although your workload may be minimal to begin with, you’ll gradually be required to do more and more and you’ll still be learning a lot.

You may not consider this a downside if you enjoy travelling, but some graduate schemes may require you to travel a lot or even relocate to a new city or country.

Once you’re in the swing of things, a graduate scheme can often require you to work late, from home and even some weekends depending on the employer. If you’re willing to get fully stuck in, then this shouldn’t be a problem for you, but be mindful that you may have to compromise your social life somewhat!

Am I eligible for a graduate scheme?

As we mentioned earlier, you may not be eligible for a graduate scheme if you don’t achieve a 2:1 or above.

There is a common myth that you can only apply for a grad scheme when you’re fresh out of university. We’re here to debunk this myths most graduate schemes are open to graduates for many years after graduation. You don’t need to feel rushed about making the decision, and you don’t need to put off applying if you think you’ve been a graduate for too long.

When should I begin to think about applying?

Graduate schemes typically open for applications in between September and January, with the position starting the following September, however this can vary from company to company. There are many sources that you can check regularly for when graduate schemes will be open for applications and what the deadline is, such as Save the Student.

What are my other options?

If you decide that a graduate scheme just isn’t for you, there are so many other options that you can consider. Don’t feel you need to follow a designated path. Although a graduate scheme provides a clear view to the near future, this shouldn’t be the only reason you wish to enrol in one.

Check out our guide to graduate scheme alternatives to help you decide the best course for you to take.

Need help deciding whether a graduate scheme is for you? Make use of the Salford University Careers Advice Service, either online or by appointment.