Is a graduate scheme right for me? Pros, cons, and FAQs.

To grad scheme, or not to grad scheme; a question many of us have asked. Differing from graduate jobs, graduate schemes are training programmes run by large companies, offering a body of graduates a firm foothold in an industry. Keep reading to see if a grad scheme is suited to you and get application tips.


They are in almost every sector

Thinking of grad schemes may bring to mind accounting and finance roles (which are definitely not suited to everyone), but in reality they span over so many more sectors! You can find grad schemes in anything from teaching, healthcare, marketing and media, to science and technology.  Head to Prospects to browse grad schemes by sector.

Career progression!

Looking for that competitive edge to boost your employability? As well as having a well-known company’s name on your CV, grad schemes offer networking, experiences, and unique opportunities to get your foot in the door of your field.

Focused on you

Grad schemes are relatively learning-driven and can be a smooth transition from university life into the working world. You’re likely to have a group of peers from your cohort, and may be offered social events, or even residential trips together.


Reduced personal engagement

Having a large team of new starters can lend itself to much of the scheme being automated. This could make your work feel less personal and flexible, for example, when asking questions about training, discussing time off, or your personal goals.

Slow to gain responsibility

Sick of being a student? Ready to get stuck in? Typically, working in a smaller company, or where you are one of a few new starters, can foster a more interactive working environment. A smaller team may better value your unique perspective, enable closer connections with those superior to you, and a faster progression to leadership positions.

Limited flexibility in your role

Similarly, grad schemes often have a fixed role carved out for you. Working with a smaller team can present opportunities in different areas of the company, allowing you to explore your interests, and develop a broad variety of skills.

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Considering working for a smaller company? Check out some more benefits of working for an SME, browse our SME internships, or source your own with our scheme launching this month!

Grad scheme FAQs

When should I apply?

Recruitment can begin up to a year before the start date, so it’s best to get going ASAP. The September to January period can be crucial for applying to the biggest, most competitive schemes. However, others recruit on a rolling basis (a reported 55% of The Times’ top 100 employers)! Check out Bright Network for a list of grad scheme deadlines.

Can I apply if I’ve graduated?

Yes! There isn’t typically a deadline for how soon after graduating you can apply, but it is favourable to do so in the first few years after.

Do I have enough experience?

Experience isn’t essential, but it is a good way for your application to stand out from the crowd. Relevant experience can kickstart your career, whether it’s alongside your studies, after graduating, paid, or unpaid. Browse opportunities, internship schemes, or read our guide to making speculative applications.

Can I apply if my degree isn’t related to the scheme?

For many companies, having a degree in itself shows the ability to learn, and drive to succeed. It does help to have a related degree, however, you will be trained for the role, and will not need direct prior knowledge.

Attending our employer showcase is a great way to meet employers and see what opportunities are available. Speak to companies offering grad schemes, and SMEs on 19 and 20 October.

Ready to apply? Be sure to use our resources to ace the application process; CVs, interviews, and assessment centres alike.

And finally, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!