When you are considering opportunities for after university, you are likely to encounter a plethora of terms. This may raise questions, such as:
- What’s the difference between a graduate scheme, a graduate job and a graduate internship?
- When and where can I find these opportunities?
- How do I apply?
This page will help to answer those questions and help you navigate the graduate jobs market.
A graduate scheme is a structured and time-limited programme. Commonly found in large businesses, public services and charities, but some smaller employers may offer them. They come in all shapes and sizes, but some common traits include:
- Work interspersed with training and/or qualifications
- Early responsibility and an emphasis on leadership
- Rotation across different departments and/or branches to get a feel for what you like best (rotations can be within a pre-chosen specialism or more varied).
- Last between 1-3 years.
- Early recruitment cycle - start to look in the summer before final year of study (and it’s advisable to research before that) for schemes starting the following summer or autumn.
- Deadlines vary, but many are in December or January. Some close early if they have a high number of applications. Most welcome applicants who have graduated in the last 2-3 years.
- A multi-stage recruitment process, typically involving an initial written application, psychometric assessments, telephone/video interviews, assessment centres and final interviews. Seek application support so you feel as confident as possible.
- Are found across the country, typically in cities but not just in London. Some may be multi-location.
- Any job that requires a degree!
- However, graduate jobs may be in fields that strictly speaking accept other qualifications/routes in, but where a degree may be seen as an advantage.
- Unlikely to have a defined programme of training and development, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any developmental opportunities.
- Apply 1-2 months before being available to work but it is beneficial to research and make connections prior to that.
- May also be referred to as ‘Direct entry’ or ‘Entry level’. Just check the detail to see if it is aimed at graduates. Some graduates initially start in non-graduate roles as a stepping stone to gain more experience before progressing.
- Temporary positions, so ideal if you want more experience before committing long term.
- Advertised all year around; apply 1-2 months before being available to work.
- Should be paid, but there are exceptions.
- You can find a useful summary of the law around this on TARGETjobs.
Find out more on our Internships page.
Where to look for graduate schemes and jobs (not exhaustive)