Graduate schemes – not the only option!

There are lots of attractive things about graduate schemes: they’re usually well-paid from the beginning, offer job security for the length of the scheme and the opportunity for career progression afterwards, and often give you the experience of working for large, prestigious or well-known companies. But it’s worth remembering that graduate schemes are NOT the only way to begin your career.

There can also be some real disadvantages to applying for graduate schemes: they can be extremely competitive, have early closing dates and long, time-consuming application procedures.

One option could be to think about applying to jobs in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

There are many SMEs which also recruit graduates and offer the opportunity for career progression. This route has valuable benefits:

  • You can work for different kinds of companies in a wider range of industries (for example, the creative industries, start-up companies)
  • Greater variety of roles offered
  • Training can be more personal
  • The recruitment period is more flexible, without the early closing dates of grad schemes, so you have time to get organised!

Graduate schemes are often the best-advertised opportunities out there, so looking for other types of opportunity can require more effort.

The key is RESEARCH.

Research the sector you want to work in, and find out about the SMEs in that sector. Use the trade press, the Yellow Pages, LinkedIn, careers directories and internet searches. If companies have advertised vacancies on their websites, then great – apply!

But some organisations don’t formally advertise all roles. In this case, you can send a tailored CV and covering letter to the company, to see if they have any vacancies, or if they might have in the future. This is known as a speculative application. (Click here for more information on speculative applications).

Remember that at the Careers & Enterprise Centre you can book an appointment with a Careers Consultant to discuss your career path and all the different types of opportunities that exist. You can also meet with an applications adviser to discuss how to tailor your CV and covering letter for a particular employer. Call 020 7882 8533 for more information.

Emily Hogg, Application Adviser


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