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Graduate schemes - a great way to find a job

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

30 September 2021

Here we are again – the start of the new graduate recruitment season is upon us and many employers are already advertising their schemes for 2022. Don’t know where to start? Don’t panic – read on to find out how we’ve got you covered.

What is a graduate scheme?

A graduate scheme is a paid, structured training programme offered by an employer to allow graduates to develop within their organisation. They usually last two to three years and involve work experience, training and a mentor or buddy. It is a great first step into the workplace after university and an amazing feeling to know you have a job ready for when you graduate.

Two of the most common misconceptions surrounding graduate schemes is that they are only for business students, or those who will achieve a 2:1 or above. However, both are untrue! Employers are often much more focussed on finding out what transferable skills and work experience you have that complement the role. Graduate schemes can also be as varied as the organisations who offer them, so you should do as much research as you can before you apply.

Who are graduate schemes for?

Graduate schemes are open to students completing their studies – undergraduates, postgraduates and postgraduate researchers – and eligibility details will be listed on each company website. However, if you are not in your final year of study, some organisations also offer summer internships and/or placements so as well as gaining good experience you have a foot in the door for when their graduate schemes open. Our Expo (see below) is also a great way to find out more about how schemes work, so you are prepared when considering graduate jobs.

Don’t miss out – come to our Graduate Scheme and Placements Expo

Graphic advertising a Graduate Scheme and Placements Expo for ARU students

It is important to be aware that some graduate schemes have very early deadlines, particularly those that are very competitive, and many schemes will close for applications before the end of December. Get ahead of the game and book your place for this event to find out more about the schemes on offer this year with a range of leading graduate employers, including the NHS, Civil Service, Babcock and Citrix. Check out the full list of companies attending and view their profiles. We strongly recommend researching companies ahead of meeting them at the Expo so you can go prepared with questions.

Application processes – what to expect

Application processes for graduate schemes often include multiple stages – after completing the application form, you may also need to go through selection tests, assessment centres and interviews. This can be overwhelming, but don’t let it put you off – employers aren’t trying to catch you out, they just want to measure your performance in a variety of ways. We have our own guide to graduate schemes, which includes a comprehensive list of resources to help you tackle each step.

Engineering Management graduate Efua Taylor

Efua Taylor, who graduated from our MSc Engineering Management earlier this year, recently started working for BT on their Technology Professional graduate scheme. Whilst she was initially nervous about the application process, with the support of her mentor (via the Mentoring at ARU programme) and our Career Centre resources, she knew what to expect and how she could prepare effectively for each stage. One of the most appealing aspects of the scheme for Efua was the training involved in the programme. As Efua says, 'Graduate schemes are intended to develop people and build your skills'. Realising that employers are investing in your development gave her the confidence to apply.

If you’re considering applying for a graduate scheme or just want to know more, don’t forget that your Employability Service are here to help. We’re now back on campus and available for face-to-face appointments, or you can continue to contact us via Live Chat or meet us online. Get details on how to book appointments.

By Emma Mottram, Employability & Careers Adviser

Our Employability Service works with students throughout their time at ARU and after they graduate. The Service offers careers advice, online resources, and help with job searches, applications and interview preparation. Our Employability & Careers Advisers may mention some of these resources and services in their blogs, to give you an idea of the careers support that's on offer at ARU. Some of these resources sit behind a log in and can only be accessed by current students.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.