Graduate Schemes

What is a Graduate Scheme?

A graduate scheme is a structured training programme, organised by a company, for recent graduates. It is very much like a normal full-time job however the programme tends to be highly structured with professional training. This allows fresh graduates to build up their experience and knowledge in their chosen profession.

Graduate schemes usually come with a competitive salary along with many resources for training and development within the company. The structure of the scheme varies depending on the organisation and industry, but it will usually involve training, mentoring and hands-on work across a range of departments within the company. Many employers offer the chance for graduates to gain professional qualifications as they train and work. Therefore, the structure of the programme allows graduates to become fully qualified and experienced to pursue more advanced opportunities, boosting their career progression.

What happens when the Graduate Scheme is over?

Upon successful completion of the graduate scheme, the majority of graduates will be offered a full-time role at the company, provided they have worked hard and proved themselves as diligent employees during the programme. However, even if you do not progress to a permanent position at the company, the variety of skills and broad experiences obtained from the graduate scheme will be invaluable and will better prepare graduates to pursue opportunities that might not have been available when they first graduated.

Who can apply?

The schemes are open to students in their final year of university as well as to recent graduates, usually within 2-3 years of graduating.

The requirements for the programme vary from company to company as they may ask for relevant qualifications and/or experience when it comes to applying for the scheme.

When does it occur?

The start dates for graduate schemes tend to be flexible however typically they will start between July to September, although start dates in January and March are not uncommon.


The exact duration of a graduate scheme will depend on the organisation, but they generally last between one and three years.

Who offers Graduate Schemes?

Graduate schemes are available across a variety of sectors and organisations. Most companies openly advertise their graduate opportunities on their career’s website and at university careers fairs.

When to apply?

The deadlines will vary depending on the specific graduate scheme and organisation; however, many firms require students to submit their applications almost a year in advance of their start date. Therefore, students should be prepared to apply between summer before their final year of study and autumn term of their final year.


Although few organisations work on an open-recruitment basis and thus take applications all year round, it is recommended to apply as early as possible since graduate schemes are highly competitive, and vacancies can fill quickly.

What is involved in the application process?

The application process will vary for each industry, company and type of graduate scheme however, the steps tend to be very similar as for an internship.  

The typical stages involve:

1.     Filling an online application – this will often require a submission of your CV and sometimes a cover letter

2.     Online tests – this can include numeracy, verbal reasoning and logic tests

3.     Phone or video interview

4.     Assessment centre

5.     Final interview