Autumn is well and truly here, and that means only one thing – graduate schemes galore. In fact, head to the Opportunities tab of the Debut app right now and you’ll find hundreds. But how do you know which graduate scheme is best for you? From the salary to the work hours, there’s a lot to consider, and if you’re going to spend the time sending in an application, you want to know it’s the right fit for you.
The important thing to remember is that while of course one graduate scheme is not going to define the course of the rest of your life, some schemes can last up to two years, which is a long time to be working somewhere you don’t feel comfortable.
So make sure you do your research and ask as many questions as possible, to build up an accurate picture of what the graduate scheme is actually like. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of the main things you might want to think about:
One of the great things about many graduate schemes is that they involve rotations. This means you’ll complete placements across a range of different departments within the company, rotating every few months or so.
These are perfect if you know you want to be involved in an industry but you don’t know exactly what job role you want within that. So for example, a graduate scheme at a tech company might involve placements in software development, customer support and programme management.
You’ll spend enough time on each placement to get stuck into a project and make a significant contribution, but you’ll also be given the chance to develop skills in a range of different areas.
It might not be important for everyone, but for some the opportunity to travel is a big deciding factor when applying for a graduate scheme. If you’re stuck between taking some time out to travel, and getting stuck in with your graduate career, a scheme which gives you the best of both worlds is obviously an appealing option.
Some graduate schemes might offer rotations across a range of global locations, while others might just offer general opportunities to travel as and when projects arise. So if travelling is something you’re really keen to do, try and pick a graduate scheme which will allow you to do just that.
Plus, working in a foreign country is a whole other experience compared to travelling there, and will give you a new perspective on a country
Corporate or casual? Dress down Fridays or bake-off Tuesdays? Every company has its own unique culture, and this is really what makes an organisation what it is. If you don’t fit the culture then you’re unlikely to thrive in your role, so try and find somewhere which fits your personality.
Company culture isn’t something that can easily be conveyed on a website homepage or glossy brochure though. It’s something much more abstract and closely connected with the employees who currently work there, so you’ll have to put some extra effort in if you’re going to effectively gauge what it’s like.
Company open days are a perfect way of doing this, as they enable you to meet current employees, look around the office and get a feel for the atmosphere. Also check to see if the company are organising any other events or webinars, and of course check out DebutLive where we organise live streams, and you can ask questions directly to recruiters and employees via the app.
Think about where exactly it is you want to live. Lots of graduate schemes, especially for the big multinationals, are based in London, but don’t feel like the capital is the only option. There are plenty of opportunities for work in regional cities too, even if you do have to look a little harder for them.
Where you’re going to be living for the next couple of years (and potentially longer) is really important, so make sure you choose a graduate scheme which allows you to live where you want – whether that’s close to friends and family, somewhere with lower living costs or an exciting cultural scene.
If your graduate scheme involves relocating frequently, or moving abroad for a period of time, think about whether you’re prepared for the upheaval that might involve. While some people relish the opportunity to travel to new places and experience new things, it’s also perfectly ok to think this would be too stressful, so choose what’s right for you.
Just like all good things, graduate schemes come to an end. See if you can do some research into what percentage of grads stay on at the company with a permanent job offer at the end. It might not seem that important right now, but you should find out whether there’s the potential for a long-term future at the company too.
Try out sites like Glassdoor to read some reviews of the graduate scheme and see what other people thought about it. Even the best job in the world might not be worth it if there’s a terrible work-life balance, you get dragged in on weekends and your physical and mental well-being suffer as a result.
You want a role that’s going to push you and challenge you to get out of your comfort zone, but also that’s going to allow you to leave the office on time and enjoy a healthy personal life. I know it’s a lot to consider, but if you do your research you’ll soon identify which graduate schemes appeal to you the most, and this will help you prioritise your applications. Good luck!