What is a trainee?

A trainee is a recent university graduate who is undergoing some kind of on-the-job training within an organisation.

However, there is no internationally understood standard definition of the term (we wish there was one!). Organisations tend to refer to trainees in any sort of practical training context, and the line between an internship and a traineeship is quite blurry.

Trainees are often hired within programmes or schemes - and the titles for these can vary quite a bit as this overview shows.

Trainee Programme translations


A couple of defining characteristics most of these programmes have in common are:

  • A duration between 6 to 24 months
  • Rotations through various departments/foreign subsidiaries
  • Seminars, workshops or mentorship for the trainees 

What you need to consider in your trainee recruitment 

Trainee programmes have become increasingly popular as they offer various advantages for companies. Some of the most competitive graduate schemes receive thousands of applications each year.    

  • Candidate educational backgrounds

Traditionally, trainee programmes mainly target graduates with a background in business or technology. Some companies choose to split the programmes into several specialised lines, such as finance, operations, marketing, engineering or IT. As a company, however, you are not limited to that. Some firms, for example, explicitly promote trainee programmes for graduates of humanities or social sciences.

In the same vein, you can decide if you will only accept applications from graduates with a master’s degree or if a bachelor degree may suffice.     

  • Payment

As trainee are typically full-time graduate positions, they are also paid - though usually a little less than a regular full-time job as they still receive more training. 

  • Career development for trainees

Most companies offering trainee programmes do so with the goal of hiring the graduates into a permanent position once the scheme has ended. Even though that is not obligatory in most countries, it makes good sense to recruit trainees where you can see a long-term fit with the company.

If you want to keep your hiring options more flexible over the upcoming months, but still be in the market for young talent, an internship programme with a shorter duration may be more suitable.

The Graduate Trainee VCF 2018

If you are interested in recruiting trainees for your company in 2018, have a look at our Virtual Career Fair for this specific segment. Maybe we've got just the one that's right for you!

24th January, 2017 - Graduateland Virtual Career Fair - Graduate Trainee VCF 2018 

 Learn more about the next VCF