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Ten Myths About Graduate Schemes

By UCL Careers, on 30 October 2015

This blog post orginially appeared on the QM Careers & Enterprise blog

1.Graduate schemes are the most common form of graduate employment.

False – less than 10% of graduate employment is in graduate schemes, most are employed in graduate jobs in companies that do not offer graduate schemes.

2. Graduate schemes are a kind of training, rather than a job.

False – although a lot of graduate schemes have some training courses or induction processes, they are jobs – you will have responsibilities and tasks to do in return for the salary you earn, and will be expected to contribute to the company and not be hand-held from day one.

3. Once you are on a graduate scheme, you are on a career path for life and do not need to make any more major career decisions.

False – a lot of graduates who start with a company on their graduate scheme will choose to move to another company and/or change jobs within five years of starting their job. Even if you stay within the same company, you will continuously need to make career decisions as to what departments you work in, how much responsibility to take on, and whether you want to apply for promotions.

4. Getting into a graduate scheme is easy because they take a lot of applicants in one go.

False – although most graduate schemes do take more than one applicant in each recruitment round, the high number of applicants for graduate schemes means that the selection process is very tough. Companies routinely have over a 1000 applicants for their graduate schemes, and will usually select the best through a lengthy and demanding process including online reasoning tests, application forms and assessment centres.

5. Graduate schemes are only for the private sector.

False – public, not-for-profit organizations such as the NHS, the Metropolitan Police, social work or Teach First also offer graduate schemes.

6. You can wait until you finish your degree to decide whether to apply to a graduate scheme.

False – or at least not if you want to start the scheme within one year of graduating. For most graduate schemes you will apply one year before you start, so if you think a graduate scheme is for you, you should apply in the Autumn term of your final year at University.

7. All that I need to do during uni to have a chance with a graduate scheme is to study hard and get grades.

False – over a third of graduates employed by big companies have done an undergraduate internship or placement with that company. The other two thirds will probably have some good evidence of employability skills such as team work, commercial awareness and time management obtained through volunteering, part-time work or leading a student society.

8. A graduate scheme offer the best chance for career development.

False – although if you are on a graduate scheme you will more likely be working for a bigger company than if you are on a graduate job, in smaller companies you tend to get given more responsibility earlier on.

9. A graduate scheme is the best bet to stay in London.

False – most companies offering graduate schemes require total flexibility in terms of where you work, and the willingness to relocate.

10. Graduate scheme = big bucks.

False – although you might start on a higher salary on a graduate scheme than on a graduate job with a smaller company, promotions and salary increases tend to happen faster in the more flexible, dynamic environment of a smaller company.

Fundraising and Marketing Graduate Trainee: Inspire Me

By UCL Careers, on 3 February 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series,Tara Protheroe, Graduate Trainee (Fundraising & Marketing) at Cancer Research UK, talks to us about how she decided to undertake a career in the Charity sector.

Firstly, here’s a little contextual info about me. I’m 23, I went to the University of York, and I graduated in 2012 with a 2:1 in English Literature. Finding my first job was initially challenging; although I had a CV full of skills, university positions and part-time jobs, I lacked a professional internship or in-office work experience.  Tara Protheroe


So, how did I get into my role?

I’d always thought I’d like to get into marketing and applied to multiple jobs in my 3rd year with little success. My lack of office experience was holding me back, so I started looking for internships.


I didn’t actively seek a charity role, but came across Cancer Research UK and was impressed by the variety of internships available.


I secured a role in Innovation Marketing, working on the Dryathlon campaign. After 3 months at CRUK I knew I wanted to stay; the work was stimulating and I was truly passionate about the cause. There weren’t any permanent roles available so I (successfully) applied for the graduate scheme.

What are the best things about working in my role?

I’d say the best thing about the CRUK Grad Scheme is the variety and the quality of the work we’re given.


We stay in each department for six months and work on an independent project. Where we go is partly dependent on business need, but there’s a lot of scope for us to choose roles based on our preferences. The responsibility we’re afforded is also a real benefit.


The organisational culture is fantastic. We’re frequently reminded of our core purpose in our daily work and surroundings.

What are the biggest challenges I face in my work?

Changing projects every six months makes the work more interesting, but also allows you less time to settle in and excel. Similarly, the responsibility and autonomy I am provided with makes it imperative that I motivate and organise myself effectively, which can be tough.


The size of the organisation can also be a challenge; there are so many different departments it can be difficult to keep track of and work effectively with all of your stakeholders.


What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

Start early! Think about what you want out of a career in your first year and try to gain relevant experience. But if you haven’t, don’t despair, there’s still plenty you can do.

If you want to work for a charity, think of the type of role you’re interested in – marketing, finance, etc., and look for work experience in those areas. You don’t have to have charity experience to work for a charity; it’s the transferable skills that are important.

If you’re working full time or an internship isn’t possible, there are still ways you can volunteer your time and gain skills in the process. If you’re interested in events, consider organising a fundraising event yourself, such as Relay for Life. If media or communications are your thing, write a blog, or approach a smaller charity and see if you can help them with their publications in your spare time.

The most important factor for any role, but particularly this sector, is passion. Would I have got the job had I not done an internship? I don’t believe I would – without it I wouldn’t have had the requisite passion, knowledge and confidence to impress at interview.

If you’re interested in a career in the Charity sector, visit Careers Tagged and find over 400 resources to get you started.

Police Now: Inspire Me

By UCL Careers, on 26 November 2014

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Rhona Hunt, Police Officer talks to us about how she decided to join the Met some tips for UCL students who may be considering taking part in the Police Now scheme.

How did you get into your role?Rhona Hunt, Inspire Me

Policing, as a career, does not cross the minds of most graduates and those that do consider it are often put off by common misconceptions about the job.

I studied Speech and Language Therapy at UCL. After graduating in 2013 I turned to a career with the Metropolitan Police Service as a Police Officer. This decision baffled my peers and family members.

I always knew that I wanted to work with people and make a difference to people’s lives. In my first year at UCL I applied to be a volunteer Police Officer (Special Constable) with the Met. During my first two shifts I attended a large disturbance at an illegal rave and a stabbing. After that I was hooked. For the next three years Policing became my hobby and I worked as a Special Sergeant in Camden Borough.

I worked on the Emergency Response Team answering 999 calls to rapes, serious assaults and pretty much anything else you can imagine. I also worked with detectives on murder investigations and serious sexual assault investigations. I policed the Royal Wedding, the Olympics and the Paralympics.

During these three years I met people from every background you can imagine and encountered the very best, and the very worst of humanity.

It was the most interesting, challenging, exciting and satisfying job I could imagine and I knew I had found the career I wished to pursue.

After graduating I joined the Met as a full time Police Officer. For the last 12 months I have been working in Neighbourhood Policing in Hackney and I haven’t looked back.

What are the best things about working in your role?

You can make a real difference. My role encompasses such variety but everything you do has meaning and purpose; helping people, preventing crime, solving crime and trying to resolve community issues.

There are roles to suit different interests and skills and your career path is flexible. Our new Graduate Programme, Police Now, offers internal and external internships and on completion of the programme supports candidates wishing to move onto jobs outside of Policing.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

Initially I found that my risk management and problem solving skills were really tested. This can be a bit overwhelming, especially as your decisions have real consequences but having settled into the role I now enjoy the challenge this brings.

The predominantly negative image of Police Officers portrayed by the media can be incredibly frustrating.

What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

Police Now is looking for the brightest and best graduates, who want to make a difference. As well as being incredibly bright we are looking for well rounded candidates with fantastic interpersonal skills.

Police Now are looking to run some skills sessions at UCL later in the academic year so keep an eye out for these.

Want to find out more?

Visit http://www.metpolicecareers.co.uk/graduates/