It’s that time of year – when thousands of students across the country are nearing the end of their degrees and asking themselves “what next?”.
For many, the working world is an unfamiliar and daunting place and, with very little professional experience, it’s hard to know what’s what when you take the first steps into starting a career.
A common quandary that today’s students and graduates face is whether or not to chase a coveted place on a Graduate Scheme. It’s what they plug at all the job fairs. It’s what all your friends seem to be doing. What even is a Graduate Scheme? Is it for you? When should you apply? Who do you choose? Is a Graduate Job different? What? Where? Who? Why? PANIC.
Take a deep breath. It’s OK, here at Bridgewater, most of us have been right there in your shoes. This is what Darcey, one of our Recruitment Consultants within our Bridgewater Graduates Division, had to say about her experience:
“I can remember feeling a bit confused around this time of year. The general consensus seemed to be that companies were taking applications way in advance before I had even thought about taking my final exams! Everything seemed to rely on my predicted grades, and although I felt confident, I just couldn’t be sure how things would turn out. After a bit more research I learned that the application for graduate jobs was rather different and decided to head down that path myself. Knowing the difference between the two areas can really help you out a lot before you tackle those applications.”
We speak to hundreds of graduates every year and we know that it’s not easy deciding where to start, so we’re here to shed a little light on the difference between Graduate Schemes and Graduate Jobs. Arming yourself with this knowledge will help you choose the right path for you.
First things first, why do employers want to hire graduates? The truth is that there’s no set answer, there are many reasons a company may want to hire entry-level recruits. From a purely fiscal point of view, graduates are a good investment. However the knowledge, energy, enthusiasm and new perspectives graduates can bring to a business are invaluable. University graduates have also developed a wealth of skills that are transferable to the workplace, learn quickly and are hungry to progress.
The benefits of hiring graduates are endless, however, now you know why they want you, what do you want from them?
Let’s talk Graduate Schemes – these tend to be highly sought after, well-advertised schemes that have limited places available. This means that the application process can be quite lengthy, and testing of both your abilities and your patience! Recruitment for such schemes usually takes place either early in or at least before the end of the academic year.
The scheme usually consists of a set period of time, over which training and on-the-job practice will take place, meaning that you will gain a good understanding of different areas of the business, with the aim of progression. However, bear in mind that being on a Graduate Scheme won’t guarantee you a job or a promotion once you complete it.
The differences between these schemes and Graduate-level Jobs are quite subtle. Companies that offer Graduate Jobs tend to value flexibility more than the rigid nature of a scheme. This in no way means that they will invest in you any less than a super-corporation graduate scheme; they still want driven, high-calibre graduates who they can develop into high-calibre professionals. One of the big differences is that recruitment for a Graduate Job is usually only open to those who have already graduated, meaning things can move a lot faster than with the application process for a scheme. Didn’t get that precious 2:1? Don’t worry, some Graduate-level Jobs aren’t as dependent on your final grade; if the company likes you, your skills and experience enough, they may be willing to negotiate on the minimum grade requirement, if there is one in place.
The training for a Graduate Job may not be as varied, structured or rigid as that of a Graduate Scheme, but you tend to hit the ground running; it can be more practical and hands-on, meaning you have more control over your own development. Additionally, the opportunities for progression may be more realistic and achievable within a Graduate Job as most employers have a clear path in mind for their graduates and there could be a little less competition (but that doesn’t mean it will be easy!). A lot of the graduates that we have placed in Graduate Jobs find themselves progressing and receiving promotions much faster than they expected and are very happy in their roles.
Both have their merits, and both have their pitfalls. What’s important is what’s best for you. If you’re looking to gain experience in different areas of a large corporation and you want a lot of structure, a Graduate Scheme may be for you. Or for those of you that like to get stuck in, learn on the job and develop within a smaller business with the aim of gaining professional skills and experience with tailored, flexible training, a Graduate Job might be the right choice.
Take a look at what’s out there, it may be cheesy, but the world really is your oyster!