The pros and cons of a graduate scheme- a case study.

blogMany students work towards getting on a graduate scheme with a company that embodies their values and that they are passionate about, others don’t know what a graduate scheme is. We had the opportunity to talk to Robert, a graduate who started his training after he finished his Masters. He outlines the pros and cons of this path of employment and explains what you can expect if you choose this route.


What is your job title and how long after graduating did you start this job?

My title is Management Trainee and I am currently a team leader of 9 people in customer service. I started 9 months after graduating and held a role in marketing prior to this role.


What feels different being a graduate employee compared with being a student?

You have more responsibility especially with an ambitious graduate scheme like mine. However the studying doesn’t stop after your degree if you are lucky enough to have your company pay to train you. The expectations of graduates are that you will work and drive your career, which both opens up huge opportunities but can be equally testing. Earlier mornings and more structured time off is also a change to your routine!


How does it feel different from other jobs you had (e.g. part-time, vacations)

It feels like I’m working towards progression and becoming an expert in an area which is advantageous, it’s better pay and more benefits and I enjoy working for a company who reward hard work and commitment. Avenues for progression will be open to me and my employer will give me every tool to succeed.


Apart from the money, are there any other advantages?

The training is great, I’m currently studying to get my qualification in Insurance and if you work hard there is a good progression path. You also become very aware people are checking in on you and it is nice to be a person of interest.


And any disadvantages?

It’s hard work, but at the start of your career and if you ambitious, you don’t mind this. If you want a 9 to 5 job and no weekend work I wouldn’t recommend a graduate scheme.


Were there any unwritten rules you just had to work out?

Everyone works in different ways and is motivated by different things so you have to ensure you key into this as a manager. It can be quite a steep learning curve, and it is important you don’t rub people up the wrong way.


Advice to final year students about starting their first graduate job?

Look for a company you admire and one that is in the field you are interested in and go for something that is going to give you as many training and progression opportunities as possible. Your career will be long so you want to have the resources available to you to keep yourself challenged. Also start applying early in your final year!


Networking: what do you do if you’ve no contacts?

You’re probably aware that networking is really important for developing your career. However, if you find the idea of building your own personal network of contacts daunting, you’re not on your own.

Some reasons why students and graduates (and the general population) find networking fairly scary and generally avoid it:

– Assumption that networking is only for established business people, involves approaching complete strangers, and/or giving out business cards – not for the faint-hearted!

– Assumption that networking is somehow ‘under-handed’

– Thinking that that if you don’t have existing contacts via friends and family, then it’s not worth trying to make contacts

– Feeling you don’t have any contacts and don’t know how to make any

– Fear of rejection

– Feeling intimidated by the thought of talking to people who are established in their career, or similar in age to your parents (if you’re a younger student)

It doesn’t have to be this hard!

Successful networking is really about being helpful to others and perhaps just asking them about themselves, their role and their industry, rather than approaching strangers with business cards.

Being at university gives you instant access to a range of potential contacts: your lecturers, external speakers delivering Careers and Employability workshops and events, university staff in roles which interest you.

Seven simple ways to make new contacts:

– Register for our Work shadowing Service and attend a visit

– Sign up for our Arrange your own Work Shadowing workshop on 18 November to get tips and ideas about how to approach employers

– Go and volunteer: – volunteering is a great way to widen your network – if you’re short of time, find something you can do for a couple of hours per month

– Interview people as part of your research for projects and assignments

– Create a LinkedIn profile, join professional groups and start inviting contacts e.g. guest speakers, your lecturers, work shadowing host e.t.c.

– Make more use of existing your contacts: your lecturers, Work Based Learning placement organisation – invite them to connect on LinkedIn and ask them for suggestions of others who might be willing to talk to you:

– Have a look at our Guide to Information Interviews and set up a meeting

Further networking tips