What to Look for in a Graduate Scheme: 10 Top Tips

 

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So you’re in final year and probably thinking about what you will do with your life when you finish next summer. (By the way, it’s true: final year always goes by far too quickly, so it’s definitely a case of the sooner the better!)

Graduate schemes are great entry-level opportunities that are definitely worth considering. It’s a myth that graduate schemes are just for Business students – most of them are open to all subjects.

However, not all grad schemes are created equal. Just like when you were deciding which course and which uni to go to, different employers will offer different types of graduate schemes. Here are the top ten things to look out for when browsing:

  1. Structure
    Grad schemes come in different shapes and sizes. Some are known as ‘rotational’, which means shorter placements in different departments. So you might spend six months in Human Resources, six months in Marketing and then six months in Sales, and so on. This can be a great way of testing out which areas of a business you enjoy working for the most. However, you may want to get stuck into a particular area straight away, in which case a non-rotational grad scheme might be better. Also schemes can vary in length, but usually last one to three years, so you might want to think about how that fits in with your future plans.
  2. Flexibility
    Generally, larger employers offer a fixed structure and timetable, whereas smaller and medium sized organisations might have more flexibility. There are pros and cons to both: larger employers’ schemes might be more ‘tried and tested’ by previous graduates, whereas smaller employers might take your interests into account when mapping out the scheme – so think about what is more appealing to you.
  3. Location
    Do you have a specific location in mind, or can you be flexible? Some graduate schemes are based in one location, but rotational schemes often require you to move around the country. It’s also worth noting that grad schemes are mostly based in larger towns and cities, such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol. Check out the Target Jobs Career Location guide for lists of top employers in certain locations in the UK.
  4. Professional qualifications
    A real perk of some schemes is the opportunity to get additional qualifications, particularly if you pick something like Human Resources or Accounting. These tend to be funded which is a bonus, but of course you would need to commit to further study.
  5. Support and progression
    A key feature of grad schemes is CPD (continuing personal development) i.e. making sure you are learning, developing and progressing in the role. This often means things like training opportunities or having a mentor.
  6. What next?
    It’s worth considering where a grad scheme might take you. Some employers might expect you to stay within the company, but this is often not obligatory. Search for previous completers of the scheme on LinkedIn to see what they are doing now. Have they stayed within the company or have they moved on to pastures new?
  7. Insider perspectives
    The glossy pages of an employer’s graduate brochure or website might showcase some great stories of previous graduates who have done the scheme, but do some wider research to get a better picture. Use Glassdoor’ to check out reviews (TripAdvisor style) of employers. In addition, get networking with current grads on the scheme. Connect with them on LinkedIn and ask questions – or, if possible, talk to company reps at a graduate fair to find out what life is reeeeally like at that organisation.
  8. Number of opportunities
    The number of graduates an employer takes on each year can vary from 1 to 1200. However, this does not mean that only applying to organisations that take on thousands is the best tactic. These organisations tend to have dedicated graduate recruitment teams, which tends to lead to thousands of applications. Don’t let this put you off, but be aware of the competition you might face and make sure your application is top notch.
  9. The application process
    Grad schemes often have a lengthy and detailed recruitment process, which may include application forms, psychometric tests, phone or video interviews, assessment centres and an interview in person. Again, this shouldn’t put you off, but you should be prepared. As always, the advice is ‘quality not quantity’ – identify the grad you’re really interested in, and put all of your effort into making a brilliant application.
  10. Other benefits, including salary and courtesy cars!
    Employers want the best graduates to apply for their schemes. This often means they can offer great benefits, including a good starting salary and other benefits. Aldi is well-known for offering a £42k salary and a fully expensed Audi A4! Niiice!

Find out more about grad schemes on My Career, or book an appointment with a Careers Consultant. Remember, deadlines are often before Christmas, so make sure you look as early as possible in the autumn term.

 

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Careers & Opportunities Fair Round-Up

 

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Tuesday 25th October was, if you’ll excuse the self-congratulation, quite the day. We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone attended our first Careers & Opportunities Fair – a stunning 716 students and 33 employers! We hope you all enjoyed the day, and we certainly did. Our marquee in the Walled Garden was buzzing all day, and there was a fantastic atmosphere. It was brilliant to see so many of our students interacting with employers – many of whom later told us how impressed they were!

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Don’t forget to follow up with the employers you got chatting to on the day. Networking is an invaluable way of making contacts, and getting your name known by recruiters before you apply for roles is a great way to make sure that your application stands out.

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If you’d like some more advice and guidance from the Careers team, sign into My Career to check out our jam-packed programme of workshops for the rest of the term or book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.

If you weren’t able to make it to the Fair, don’t despair – our guide (handed out in hard copy on the day) is packed full of handy info on all of the employers in attendance, plus top tips from our team, and is now available online. Click here to take a look at the PDF!

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It wasn’t just the Fair going on, either. We had Google’s Digital Garage on-campus at Newton Park, giving talks to over 250 students about how to get stuck into digital, and the importance of having an online presence for your business. If you missed out, don’t worry – we have three more Make Your Own Career events over the next three weeks, covering freelancing, creative careers and entrepreneurship. Check out the Bath Sparks site for more info and to book your place for these must-attend sessions.

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Sion Hill didn’t miss out, either, with 100+ BSAD students treated to a fascinating session by Holly Burton from Crafts Council UK about how the organisation supports makers and creative enterprise. Take a look here to see what other workshops we have coming up at Sion Hill.

If you’ve got any feedback for us about the Careers & Opportunities Fair, we’d love to hear from you! Email us, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter to let us know what you’d like to see in future. We’ve got you covered!

Top Tips for the Careers & Opportunities Fair

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The Careers & Opportunities Fair is only around the corner – Tuesday 25th October to be exact – and it’s an event not to be missed! If you haven’t scheduled time out of your day already, then make sure you do. You can drop by our wonderful marquee in the Walled Garden any time between 11am and 3pm.

We’ve put together the following top tips to help you on the day…

Be inquisitive
The fantastic thing about the Careers & Opportunities Fair is that it enables you to explore different career paths that you may not have considered before. Some employers you may never have heard of – make sure you approach them, too.

Remember, employers are there to talk to you and answer your questions. Some will even be bringing with them recent graduates and interns currently working with them, who will have been through the same decision-making process about their future that you are about to embark on. No question is a silly question!

Visit the Bath Spa Careers stand
If you’re feeling nervous about talking to employers, why not visit our friendly team? They’ll be able to advise you on the fantastic organisations exhibiting at the fair, and offer you some guidance on how to introduce yourself and the types of questions you could ask.

You can also talk to the team about how to go about booking an appointment to look at your CV or covering letter, the exciting schedule of workshops happening throughout the term, our new online portal MyCareer… and much more!

Be enthusiastic
The Fair is great way to make yourself known to employers. Some companies receive hundreds of applications for their positions or programmes. Introducing yourself to the representative at the fair is a way of making your application stand out.

Be friendly and sell yourself. You can show your enthusiasm by asking for advice on the application process, or asking questions about the company culture and what a typical day in the role would look like. Make sure you have a pen and paper to hand to make notes. This will look organised and professional, and will also mean you can review all the information later on.

Follow up
Don’t be afraid to ask employers for their business card if you are keen to follow up with them after your conversation. You can send them a thank you email for taking the time to speak to you at the fair and if appropriate attach your CV. Some employers may be prepared to share their business cards with you; others may direct you to their company website or company email.

Another way you could follow up is by connecting with the employer on LinkedIn or by writing a status on social media.

Like our Careers & Opportunities Fair Facebook Page to keep up to speed with everything happening during the day.

 

What Employers Are Looking For at the Careers & Opportunities Fair

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There’s just one week to go until the Careers & Opportunities Fair (Tuesday 25th October, 11am-3pm in the Walled Garden, in case you’d forgotten) and we can’t wait for you to meet all of our fantastic employers!

While the Fair is the perfect opportunity for you to explore your career options, it is also worth bearing in mind what employers are looking to see from you. We’ve asked a couple of organisations attending what they’re hoping to see…

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Kate Buffery – Student Recruitment Officer, PwC
“Ask inquisitive questions – whether that’s about our various business areas or our application forms. That’s why we’re there, after all! Don’t be too shy to ask any ‘silly’ questions either, as chances are everyone who helps us out at our stand will have been through the graduate application process and would have been in your shoes only a few years before. Oh, and always take the freebies!”rmpAmirah Hajat – Rate My Placement
“Dress appropriately – first impressions are key, so if you’re looking smart and alert you’re going to leave a good, lasting impression for all the right reasons. If you’re dressed the part, you will feel the part, and this will enable you to be confident. You’re going to be talking to a lot of people – potentially people from companies you want to work for – so be don’t be shy. Remember: you’re a lion, not a mouse!

“Most importantly, do your research: wow the representatives by showing how enthusiastic you are about the company and the work they do. Look at if they have been in the news recently, the offerings they have for students and graduates as well as the specifics of the role you are interested in. Lastly, have fun! This is a marvellous opportunity to network, so enjoy it.”

Have a look at the event on My Career to see the list of exhibitors attending on the day. You’ll be surprised at the range of placement opportunities available at Bath and North East Somerset Council, for example – encompassing Operational Improvement, Sustainability, Disaster Planning and Marketing/Communications projects, as well as an exciting range of graduate opportunities with a wide variety of national and international businesses across all industry sectors.

Some companies receive hundreds of applications for their opportunities, so the Careers Fair is a great way to meet the recruiter face-to-face and make a lasting impression to set your application apart from others.

If you’re unsure how to prepare for the Careers Fair or don’t know what to expect you, why not book on to our Preparing for the Fair workshop and read our previous post on how to talk to employers?

For more information on the Careers & Opportunities Fair, like our Facebook page.

Careers consultants: who we are & what we do

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As your Careers Consultants, we’re a key part of the Bath Spa Careers team. We’re here to support you with every aspect of your career planning, and to help you successfully progress from University onto your next step – whatever that may be!

We work with courses across the university to help make our graduates as employable as possible, as well as providing extracurricular support in a whole variety of ways.

We run a programme of informal workshops throughout the academic year at both Newton Park and Sion Hill, covering everything from writing CVs that wow employers, holding your own in assessment centres, through to building contacts to help you in a creative career. You can find out more about our workshops and book your place via My Career.

If you’ve got a question for us, click here to submit it – you can even attach documents such as CVs and personal statements for us to review and provide feedback on. One of us will get back to you within five working days.

If you’re in need of some more personalised support or guidance, you can book a 1:1 appointment with us. These last 40 minutes, and if you’re not able to see us in-person, can be carried out over the phone or via Skype. We can help you generate career ideas and refine them into a clearer plan of action, or offer advice on more specific queries such as applications for jobs or further study. If your query is less complex, you might find it more appropriate to book a ‘Quick Query’ 15-minute slot instead. If you’d like to see what slots we have available, click here.

All of our Careers Consultants are professionally qualified, and you can find more about us below:

 

Kimberley Russell

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Kimberley is the Careers Consultant for Bath Business School, the Digital Academy Field and Postgraduate Courses within the Institute for Education , and has been part of the team since July 2013. She has a background in sales, admin, logistics, customer service and a degree in BA (Hons) Interactive Media Production. If Kimberley were an animal, she’d be a lion, and if she were a biscuit, she’d be a ginger nut.

 

Emma Carlisle

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Emma is the Careers Consultant for the Field of Culture & Environment and The Graduate College (Corsham Court) Her background involved working with young people and schools in a range of community settings; she joined Bath Spa Careers in November 2014. She has a BSc in Environmental Science plus an MSc in Science Communication. Her spirit animal is a meerkat, and she’d be a Jammy Dodger if she had to be a biscuit.

 

Vivien Yorke

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Vivien is the Careers Consultant for the Field of Writing & Performance, and The Bath School of Art & Design, joining the team in November 2014. She has a degree in BSc (Hons) Psychology and a Masters degree in MSc Occupational Psychology, as well as a background in social research. If she were an animal, Vivien would be an elephant, and if she were a biscuit, she’d be a bourbon.

 

Amy Haines

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Amy works two days per week with Bath Spa Careers, and became a Careers Consultant in September 2016. Prior to this, she worked within our team for nearly two years as Graduate Opportunities Officer, seeking out the best roles for our graduates. She works with the undergraduate programmes within the Institute for Education and has a degree in BA (Hons) English Language and Linguistics. Amy has always been compared by her friends to ‘Tigger’ for her boundless energy and would be a party ring if she were a biscuit, as she likes any excuse for a get-together!