What is a graduate scheme or graduate programme?

A graduate scheme (also called a graduate programme or trainee programme) is an entry-level training scheme offered by companies to university or college graduates. The schemes or programmes usually include a salary, involve rotations and can last between 6 and 24 months. The goal of the companies is to get highly competent employees and to shape them into the future leaders, specialists and key figures of the organisation. The difference between an ordinary entry-level job and a graduate programme is that the employee during a set period of time is given a greater insight of the organisation’s different departments, mentoring and a more successive career curve within the company.

Note that there are different terms (usually English ones) for such a form of graduate position in use in different countries. Here is a quick overview of some of the common names in some countries: 

Dictionary Graduate Programmes

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Why could a graduate programme be a good idea for you?

Getting enrolled in a graduate scheme is a lucrative shortcut to getting the jobs most sought after on the market. A graduate programme will give the employee a full insight of the different departments of a company that will give you the opportunity to find the field of expertise you’re most interested in. Internal training and personal guidance in the process are also two things that are offered in the programme.

What kind of companies offer graduate programs?

Trainee positions have become both more popular and common in companies all around the globe during the last couple of years. Most of the larger scaled corporations are offering graduate programmes with the prospect of the enrolled continuing on advancing within the enterprise as managers or specialists.

The most common employers hosting these kinds of programs are big- or medium scaled international enterprises often with English as their official language. Lately, different public services and NGOs have started to offer graduate programs as well.

What are companies looking for in a graduate?

To get enrolled in a graduate program you need to have a higher education degree from a university or equivalent. The job posts are usually designated for those with a master's degree but there are some possibilities of graduate jobs for graduates with a bachelor degree as well.   

In earlier years these positions have been foremost for engineering- and business graduates but the concept of graduate schemes has lately grown to become broader incorporating other branches. Furthermore, the former idea of having these programmes to create the “future managers” has somewhat changed into the purpose of finding the right competence for specialised professions.

What do the programmes offer to graduates?

The company fabricates a development programme with different job assignments, education and different goals suited for the graduates. The main purpose is to combine theory with practice in order to learn the foundation of the organisation. The employee will get tutoring of the company’s business model, internal culture, and organisational structure while gaining more specific knowledge in communication policies, management, decision-making and analytical strategies.

The organisation also offers guidance through a mentor that will function as a discussion partner throughout the program.

How are graduate programmes structured?

The graduate positions usually full time. There are different types of contracts, but the most commonly used is fixed term with a definite final date. The length of the contracts varies depending on the company but is usually somewhere between 9-24 months (in some cases up to 3 years), most commonly about 18 months.

How international are the programmes?  

Many of the multinational enterprises offer their graduates an opportunity to go abroad for a period of time to experience on a rotation.  As part of the development programme you then get a chance to familiarise yourself with a different department of the organisation in a different country. This part is usually very appreciated both by the employer and the employee.

How can you apply?

The procedure of applying for a graduate programme resembles the recruitment process for an ordinary job. However, it’s often appreciated if you complement your CV with accompanying documents like recommendation letters, diploma and credentials. In some cases, there is more than one interview with a series follow-up group/case interviews and assignments.

Now you know everything you need to know to start looking for the right graduate programme for you.


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