If you graduated this Summer chances are you’ve been celebrating your results and taking some well-deserved time off while you think about your next steps in life. For many people this is entering the world of work, and as a graduate this often means applying to graduate schemes. Unlike entry-level roles that will consider candidates with or without a degree, a graduate scheme is a job role that includes a more formal and structured training programme, which is designed to help individuals develop from graduate level into a “future leader” with that organisation. If you are deciding whether a graduate scheme is right for you then check out these pros and cons before you apply.
Pros of graduate schemes
A better salary
While it’s not always the case, it is common for formal graduate schemes to command a higher starting salary in comparison with other roles that aren’t classified as “Grad roles” but are aimed at candidates with the same skill level / experience. So if you are deciding between two options you may well find that the “Graduate Scheme” comes with a more attractive starting salary. Be sure not to take salary on face value however, things like the benefits package you get along with how regularly the salary is reviewed at a company can effect how attractive that offer really is.
A name you recognise
Typically, “graduate schemes” give candidates the opportunity to join large corporations with names that we all know and recognise. Companies including PwC, Aldi, Deloitte, KPMG, GSK, Unilever and John Lewis Partnership all offer fantastic graduate schemes, so you have the opportunity to join some of the UK’s most recognised names straight out of the lecture hall! A recognised name does not equal the perfect job however, in fact a lot of students are now leaning towards joining smaller start-up companies instead. It’s all about joining a company with the right culture and environment for you to thrive in, so make sure you do your research before accepting a graduate job.
Throughout your degree you will learn an awful lot, through coursework, lectures and even placement years. If you take on a role within the industry of your field of study you are going to be well placed to hit the ground running in the world of work, but chances are you will need some level of training and support to make this adjustment. This is even more true for graduates that take on a role within an area that is not directly linked to the degree they did. A graduate scheme will include a formal training programme, designed to give you the support and training you need to take your academic knowledge into the world of work.
You won't be alone
Walking into a new office full of people you don’t know very well can be pretty daunting as a graduate. Being the only newbie in the company can be isolating without the right support, but luckily graduate schemes will often have a number of people starting together at the same time. Joining as a group means you’ll have colleagues you can relate to, and you’ll be able to support each other throughout the graduate journey.
Cons of graduate schemes
Competition for roles
Graduate schemes are often very sought-after, meaning you might be competing against hundreds of other candidates for just a few coveted spots! If you are determined to go down the graduate route then consider researching and applying for a few positions to increase your chances of securing an interview, you don’t want to get your heart set on one company to find that they have filled all of their vacancies already. Approach the application knowing there will be a high level of competition and go the extra mile to demonstrate why you want to join that company specifically to stand out in your application.
Graduate schemes may be department specific
One of the things about your first ever graduate job is that you may not really know where you’d like your career to go until you actually start it. A graduate scheme will often be aimed at a specific role within a single department at an organisation, meaning there may be little room for change if you find the role isn’t quite what you’d expected. Joining a smaller organisation may allow you to train across a variety of departments and hone your skills as you determine what the right path is for you.
It can take longer to progress
Graduate schemes tend to be with larger more established companies, which means you’ll get great training in a stable environment but it may take you longer than you’d like to move up the ladder. The reason behind this is you’ll be joining the “back of the queue” of people more advanced and senior than you for those management spots, and you’re also starting with a group of other graduates who could pip you to the post for future promotions too. The right work ethic and effort should get you the recognition you want, but if you want a role where you are more hands on and have the chance to make more of an impact then a smaller start-up could be more suitable for you.
Not every company has one
If you make the strict decision to only apply for a graduate scheme then you may be missing out on some great companies that simply don’t offer one! Just because a company doesn’t have an official scheme doesn’t mean they aren’t looking to hire graduates and it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t get the training and support you need to succeed. Instead why not widen your search a little and check out a range of companies – you may discover a hidden gem!