Myth buster: common misconceptions about graduate schemes

Graduate schemes are structured training programmes run by a variety of employers to develop talent for their business. They are normally between 1 and 3 years long and involve training in a specialist role, or a range of placements or projects in different areas. These positions tend to be openly advertised and are usually highly competitive. We explore some of the myths surrounding this popular route.  

1. I didn’t apply in the autumn, so I’ve missed my chance 

Not true! Though lots do have autumn term deadlines and others fill up quickly, so it is advisable to apply early, you do not need to panic if you are not sorted by the end of the autumn term. Some schemes, such as TUI Travel, NHS and Innocent close between January and March. Others, such as Aldi, Amazon and Capita recruit on an ongoing basis with no specific deadlines. Check closing dates here.   

2. Graduate schemes aren’t for arts/humanities students 

Also not true. The majority are open to you whatever degree subject you are studying. Employers mostly look for transferable skills, key competencies and behaviours that fit in with their company culture, rather than specific subject knowledge. There are graduate schemes in lots of different areas of work too: from HR to IT; with SMEs and large employers; in the public, private and third sectors. 

3. I need related work experience 

Wrong again! It is true that employers are looking for experience outside of your academic degree, but this does not have to be in a related field or through a formal internship or work experience programme. The key is how you talk about the things you have done – what you have learnt, what you have achieved, what skills you have developed. You could use examples from group projects, roles in a society, volunteering or part-time bar work – anything that can make you stand out from the crowd 

4. Graduate schemes are the best option for me 

Not necessarily. Most graduates don’t end up in graduate schemes – there are many more graduate-level jobs with organisations who don’t offer specific schemes.

If you work for a small company, you are likely to be given more responsibility early on, which may make you progress faster, while graduate schemes do not always lead to a guaranteed job at the end. Furthermore, if you want to work in a certain area, a graduate scheme may not be for you as you are often required to be flexible on your location within the UK.  

Graduate scheme or not, a degree from the University of Bristol will open lots of doors. The Careers Service can help you decide what is best for you.