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Tips for securing a graduate scheme placement

5 December 2013

One of the most popular ways for students to enter careers following university is by applying for graduate schemes.

Careers image (square) These fast-track positions offer a range of benefits: from a greatly increased chance of securing a permanent job to having a guaranteed salary straight out of university.

But the competition is tough and only a limited number make it through. On average, there are 85 applications for every single graduate scheme position. So we asked Manpreet Dhesi and Dave Carter from UCL Careers about the top tips for students thinking about graduate schemes.

The first thing to know is that a degree isn't enough on its own to secure a position. Employers are looking for qualified graduates who have also completed internships, volunteering experience or had involvement in societies. This gives them an example of your breadth of knowledge and interests.

Gillian Coe from HSBC noted: "We recruit up to 1,500 graduates on to one of our 70 graduate programmes around the world. For those jobs, globally, we receive around 100,000 applications. As 90% have a 2.2 or a 2.1, it therefore takes something extra to stand out."

When it comes to applying, don't leave it to the last minute. Some companies fill positions whilst recruitment is still happening. Go to the Careers Service to have your application reviewed by one of their specialist application advisers.

Due to the limited number of spaces, only around 7-10% of graduates manage to enter the workplace through a formal graduate scheme. To maximise your chances of success, preparation is incredibly important whether you're a first year or a finalist. The table below provides some handy tips on what to do in the new year if a graduate scheme is for you.

Manpreet said: "Conversion rates between graduate schemes and securing a full-time job at the same company can be as high as 70-80% in some companies. It's a great way to get the first foot on the job ladder.

"If a graduate scheme doesn't float your boat, UCL Careers can help you with other options. We check applications and can help you practice for an interview, all for free. The website also has a comprehensive amount of information for each step and you can pop-in personally and speak to the information team anytime."

Timetable for Graduate Schemes

UCL Study Level

Spring Term

(January - April 2014)

Summer Term

(May - August 2014)

Autumn (2014)

(Sept 2014 onwards)

First/Second year going into penultimate year

Start looking at careers/jobs you may be interested through Careers Tagged

International students should clarify Visa options in the UK here

Research entry-level jobs and find out about their requirements

Apply for internships/gain work experience during the summer

Career Planning

Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

Join societies and volunteer to bolster your CV

Penultimate going into final year

Identify your weak spots and address them

Applying for internships for summer through UCL JobOnline

Attend UCL Summer School

Attend UCL Focus on Management

Look at company websites, many open applications for their graduate schemes between July - September.

Gain work experience during the summer

Career Planning

Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

Identify Graduate Schemes and apply

Final year becoming a recent graduate Apply for graduate level jobs / schemes - some companies have rolling deadlines. You can find most of these via the companies website or through UCL JobOnline

Apply for graduate level jobs

Target unfilled Graduate Schemes

UCL Jobs Market 2014

Join UCL GradClub (recent alumni)

Follow steps above


UCL Careers