• The Recruitment Team

Grad Schemes - Are they all they're cracked up to be?

In universities all across the country, there are passionate careers advisors harking on about the merits of grad schemes... and with good reason. They're stable, self-explanatory, and a good way to get your foot in the door of a good company, but is it the only way?

We're going to have a look at the pros and cons of grad schemes:


  • It is normally large, prestigious companies that offer grad schemes and that means you're starting your career from a place of strength and reputation.

  • Being part of a scheme gives you a clear developmental framework. You know what you're doing and where you're going.

  • You can often try out different parts of the business through departmental 'tours' so you might get a better idea of what you actually want to do.

  • There is normally comprehensive training so you have the opportunity to really develop key skills and learn from the best.

  • The entry salary is often over the odds, so you will feel that benefits of the first year or so.


  • The competition is stiff. There are normally a massively disproportionate number of applicants per place, and the initial criteria are simplistic meaning if you don't tick the box on the simple stuff, you probably won't get any serious consideration.

  • They might be restrictive when it comes to flexing your muscles in a new career, and you will spend time doing things you don't find particularly interesting.

  • It can feel like an extension of your education because you spend most of your time around people of your age, and participating in "organised events".

  • As you progress through the scheme, you will have extremely limited salary flexibility because you are part of an "intake" all with comparable salary demands. If you're out-stretching everyone, you'll have to wait til the end of the scheme some serious recognition.

  • You might learn more in the deep end. Meaning that if you go straight into a company in an entry-level role, you might actually learn more faster, which, if you personality is that way inclined, means more career progression potential.

  • If you hate it... you feel like you have to stick with it. Often people sacrifice 2/3 years of their life to a grad scheme in a sector they dislike simply because they feel they should, and they didn't really understand what they were signing up for.

There's no right answer about grad schemes. Some people suit them and build a solid career path right out of university. For others, they are just another stepping stone to the existential crisis that will inevitably come from an uncertain career. But one thing is certain, if you want to do a grad scheme, get on it early... like some time around learning to walk... (not seriously, but at the beginning of you degree.) The competition is stiff and you're already competing, you just don't know it yet!