10 myths about graduate schemes

1.Graduate schemes are the most common form of graduate employment.

False – It’s been suggested that around 10% of graduate employment is in graduate schemes. Most are employed in graduate jobs in companies that do not offer graduate schemes.

2. Graduate schemes are a kind of training, rather than a job.

False – although a lot of graduate schemes have some training courses or induction processes, they are jobs – you will have responsibilities and tasks to do in return for the salary you earn, and will be expected to contribute to the company from day one.

3. Getting into a graduate scheme is easy because they take a lot of applicants in one go.

False – although most graduate schemes do take more than one applicant in each recruitment round, the high number of applicants for graduate schemes means that the selection process is very tough. Companies may regularly have over 1000 applicants for their graduate schemes, and will usually select the best through a lengthy recruitment process which may include online reasoning tests, application forms, video interviews and assessment centres.

4. Once you are on a graduate scheme, you are on a career path for life and don’t need to make any more major career decisions.

False – a lot of graduates who start with a company on their graduate scheme will choose to move to another company and/or change jobs within five years of starting their job. Even if you stay within the same company, you will continuously need to make career decisions as to what departments you work in, how much responsibility to take on, and whether you want to apply for promotions.

5. Graduate schemes are only for the private sector.

False – public, not-for-profit organisations such as the NHS, Metropolitan Police or Teach First also offer graduate schemes.

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What 2 do with a 2.2

Congratulations to everyone receiving their exam results from QMUL; well done! Some of you might have faced the disappointment of just missing out on a 2.1, and are now left wondering what your future looks like with a 2.2. The first thing to remember is that a 2.1 isn’t a ticket straight into a dream job. Neither, on the other hand, is a 2.2 a life-long barrier to it.  Getting a 2.2 might be a disappointment and it might mean having to re-think your options, but it doesn’t mean automatic exclusion from a fulfilling career.

You have options …

You may be surprised to discover that the vast majority of employers are flexible in the grades they require because they’re more concerned with your personality, skills and experience. Remember, academic grades are not everything and you can certainly compensate for them in other areas.

There will of course be several immediate options that aren’t open to you, but just from taking a quick look at this Target Jobs article, you’ll see there are a number of graduate schemes accepting 2.2 degrees. It could be that when you apply to these schemes, the rest

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Career choice – top tips from Careers Consultants

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_960_720Exams are over! But you might be wondering … what next? Firstly, don’t panic! We’ve heard almost 50% of UK undergraduates enter their final year of study not knowing what they want to do next… so you are not alone! 

We see lots of students at this time of year who don’t have a career in mind – remember you don’t need to have a plan to come and see us for a 1-2-1 appointment (see here).

To get you started in thinking about your options, we asked our Careers Consultants to share their top tips …

    • Work experience is invaluable to help you work out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Only a minority of students will secure big name internships whilst studying, but working in any environment will help you learn about work cultures, organisations and working life. You might discover that you actually hate working in an office or that you definitely want to work as part of a team.
    • If you know what you want to do for the next 40 years… fantastic & good luck!  However you don’t need to have your whole life mapped out… all you need to decide is what you want to do next.

Careers Consultant Caroline tells us … “When I graduated, I joined a big business to work in Marketing, but realised quickly that actually what fascinated me were the relationships between brands & their consumers and that there was a different job in a different business that would allow me to work on that all day long – until I actually worked inside a business, I had no idea a) what really motivated me and b) that such a perfect job actually existed.”

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Making the most of summer

blog-picWith exams now over, it’s time to start making plans for the summer. Read on for advice from Careers Consultant Andrea on how to make the most of the next few months …

  • Think carefully before applying for advertised work experience positions so you identify the best opportunities e.g. what’s your main motivator for getting work experience?

– Experience in a particular sector?
– A chance to develop a new skill?
– Getting an ‘in’ with a particular company?
– Money?
– Broadening your network?

  • If you know a specific small company you’d like to work with then think about a problem that they need solving and then think of a piece of work you could do for them which would help solve that problem and add value (e.g. competitor analysis, a specific social media marketing campaign, running an event). Approach them on LinkedIn and ask if you can meet for a coffee for 15 minutes to discuss your idea.

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Thinking about postgraduate study?


After your exams, you might be considering continuing with university life and doing a postgraduate course. A few students have mentioned this to us already, so before you decide on anything, we’ve put together a list of things to consider.

Think about why

Be honest with yourself about why you want to carry on studying. Is it to gain an industry-recognised qualification? Do you think it will make you more employable? The course doesn’t have to be purely for vocational reasons. Love of a subject is also a good motivator. What isn’t a good reason, however, is fear of having to job hunt, because you will have to look for work sooner or later. A postgraduate course is also a big commitment (financially and time-wise) so make sure you have thought about all the key elements beforehand and know where your motivation really lies.

Research what it will involve

There are a lot of differences between postgraduate study and an undergraduate course, not only in the expected standard of your work. Postgraduate courses can be much more specialised and ‘niche’ than an undergraduate degree. The form of examination may be different (more coursework, less exams). You may not have as many lectures or seminars and the cohort of students may be smaller. Some of this may not matter to you, but it’s worth having a clear idea of what postgraduate life looks like.

Know your term dates

One key difference to note is that the vast majority of postgraduate courses run from September to September. You’ll be a student throughout the summer when you’ll be expected to be working on your dissertation. You won’t, therefore, have the summer holidays to do an internship, if that’s what you were planning. This is particularly important if you’re an international student – you could be in danger of violating the terms of your visa if you work full-time during the summer when you’re a registered student. It’s worth clarifying all of this before you start a course.

Talk to people

It’s important to think about what sort of organisation you want to work for in the future and where you want to work, as employers can have different attitudes to postgraduate study. A Masters or PhD is certainly a requirement for a career in academia and some other areas of work, and is often expected by overseas employers. However, many UK employers will treat a postgraduate in the same way as a graduate, so it’s important to do your research.

Have a look at current job adverts for the sorts of roles you want to apply to in the future. Do they specify that a postgraduate qualification is required? If so, is there a particular subject they prefer? Some industries may prefer practical experience over qualifications. There is also the option to study part time, or take a short course, which would allow you to get a qualification AND work experience at the same time.

You could also speak to employers at careers events to hear their perspective on further study, or contact them directly on LinkedIn.

Plan what to do alongside your studies

Make the most of your time as a postgraduate to gain the skills and qualities employers are looking for. Work experience during the summer will be difficult, but you could do something part-time during term-time. Why not attend events to gain an insight into the industry you’re interested in or to network. You could do some volunteering, which is a great way to gain skills but can be more flexible to fit around your studies.

If you’re not sure whether to do a postgraduate qualification or not, why not have a chat with one of our Careers Consultants? They can help you to clarify your thinking and talk through your options. Contact 020 7882 8533 to book an appointment.

Thinking about your future

The uncertainty of what to do after university can feel stressful and overwhelming. With so many choices available, how do you start to find out what is right for you?

Don’t feel under pressure to pick the ‘perfect’ role that you’ll then have to do for the rest of your life. The reality is, there are probably many different jobs that would suit you. Look for roles you think you’ll find interesting and enjoy, and which suit your skills and strengths. Sometimes identifying what you definitely don’t want from as a job is easier than defining what you do. Eliminating some jobs is a way to help you find others you might be interested in.

So where do you start?

Exploring job roles and employers will make you aware of the large number of jobs available and what they actually involve. Here are a few quick tips to help you on your way:

  1. Browse a vacancy board such as prospects.ac.uk or targetjobs.co.uk and find some roles that sound interesting. What is it about them that you like or dislike?
  2. Ask employed people you know what they do and how they got there. It could spark ideas, inspiration, or make you look at things in a new way.
  3. Use online career matching tools such as Prospects Planner and the Targetjobs Career Planner to generate potential career areas. Are there roles you have never considered before? – see our recent post Not sure what to do after Uni? Got 15 minutes? 

Remember! There is no one way to find a job. Be flexible, adaptable and open minded to different opportunities. It is likely there are many different jobs you would enjoy.