Career advisors will likely introduce you to graduate schemes when planning for life after university. While they are an excellent choice for some, graduate schemes aren’t the best option for everyone, especially if you’re considering another career path.
Luckily, there are many fantastic alternatives to graduate schemes that will help improve your professional career prospects, further your learning, or help you try out different working environments.
A graduate scheme is an entry-level training programme you can apply for once you have a degree. Many large companies offer graduate schemes to introduce new graduates to their working environment, learn key job skills, and increase the chances of a permanent role within the business upon completion.
The schemes are often time-limited, usually lasting at least a year, and should provide a thorough insight into what it’s like to work for an organisation, their specialisms and goals. Some companies use graduate schemes to help develop future business leaders, invest in in-house training, and offer candidates the chance to gain a recognised qualification.
In some large-scale companies, a graduate scheme is the best and most straightforward way to enter the business. A graduate scheme is your best bet if you want to work for a particular organisation and learn how they do things. They can also be an affordable way to earn qualifications while working, as the company pays for you.
However, graduate schemes are incredibly competitive and not beneficial for everyone.
Banking and finance, law firms, consulting and recruitment firms, energy companies, and accounting businesses are some of the most popular industries offering graduate schemes — if you have little interest in pursuing a role within these fields, a graduate scheme alternative could be a better route.
The recruitment process for graduate schemes is also often long and arduous due to their sought-after nature. You can expect to clear your calendar and put aside any university work while going through the various stages, which often include virtual tests, assessment centres, and in-person interviews. For many, this adds to the stress of their final university year.
Some graduate schemes also come with certain ‘lock-in’ clauses that make people liable for fees if they withdraw from the programme early. This means you may have to pay back the cost of training if you decide to quit a company leaving you in more debt. Other businesses don’t pay salaries during training periods, meaning you’ll have to find alternative ways to fund your rent and lifestyle.
Graduate schemes are also often department-focused, leaving little room to expand your skills and knowledge into other areas if they interest you or the current role isn’t quite what you expected.
Are you considering an alternative path? Check out these non-graduate scheme jobs and options and explore the different choices available post-university.
Get a graduate job
Applying to a company directly and getting a graduate job is an obvious alternative to a graduate scheme.
Graduate jobs require you to have a degree, usually in a subject related to the role, but they aren’t as structured and won’t end after a certain period. They offer crucial, hands-on experience within your chosen field without worrying about being locked into a scheme or department.
Salaries for graduate jobs are usually higher and more competitive, meaning you could negotiate for more if you receive more offers or already have a good portfolio or CV.
Start-ups are some of the most fun, rewarding, and challenging workplace places. Working in a small team in a new company means greater freedom to make the role your own, which is great if you haven’t quite decided what you want to focus on.
Working at a start-up is often fast-paced, and you’ll quickly learn new skills, rise through the ranks, and be part of an integral part of a growing company. Many graduates are attracted to start-up roles because of their generally more inclusive nature, alternative approaches to work such as shorter working weeks and well-being allowances, and willingness to embrace new technologies and ideas.
You might not have had enough of the university lifestyle and still have a thirst for knowledge. If so, undertaking a postgraduate degree could be the route for you.
Completing a postgraduate degree puts you ahead of the competition come graduation and opens other opportunities in jobs where a master’s qualification is essential or preferred.
The government recently introduced postgraduate loans which fund your course fees. You could also get discounts if you do a master’s at the university where you obtained your bachelor’s. Many scholarships, grants and other monetary awards are available to help pay for a postgraduate degree.
Start your own business
Some of the best entrepreneurs formed their companies young, often fresh out of university. If you have a business-savvy mindset and solid ideas, starting your own business could suit you more than a graduate scheme.
While the process won’t be easy, many resources will help you along your journey. You’ll also learn as you progress and feel the reward of seeing your company grow and develop. Regardless of whether your business succeeds or fails, you’ll gain fantastic skills, unique experiences and an understanding of how a company functions — desirable to have in the working world.
After years of studying and much hard work, living abroad in a new environment is an attractive option.
You can take several routes when moving abroad, including travelling, working or volunteering, studying, an internship, freelancing, or a combination of these. If you can speak a second language, your options are incredibly vast. However, many international companies and schemes use English to communicate, so don’t let your language skills hold you back.
Experiencing different cultures, meeting new people and broadening your understanding of the world is an enriching experience that’s great to do as a new graduate.
Whatever route you choose, you can bring your home to life with Pickard’s range of professional lets. Find your dream house or flat across the Leeds and West Yorkshire area, and begin your post-university life in style.