If you want to break into a big organisation, receive expert training and get well paid in the process, a graduate training scheme could be for you.
1.They are offered by big organisations
Graduates schemes are typically offered by big organisations such as the Civil Service, PwC and the NHS.
2. They are fixed term
Training schemes are typically offered to graduates for a fixed term of between 18 months and two years.
3. They are competitive
Graduate schemes are a great opportunity to work and train in a real job. As they are well-paid, they are competitive and many require a degree classification of 2:1 or above.
5. You need to apply early
Don’t wait until graduation to suss out a scheme – applications will be open from the autumn of final year and typically close by Christmas. Check out MyFuture for details of graduate schemes relevant to you.
6. You can find them online
With a bit of desktop research, you can find details of graduate schemes across the UK and Ireland. Here are five sites to check:
Taking a year out after graduation to travel, gain work experience or volunteer while you consider your future can be a worthwhile and fulfilling experience. Here, some useful sites with information and opportunities across the globe.
Not sure if postgraduate study is for you? Attending an information or open day event is a good first step. When it comes to desktop research, there are loads of great sites to help you explore your study options. Here are 11 to save in your favourites.
Prospects postgraduate search
This search tool lets you explore postgraduate taught courses by subject and location.
Are you a recent graduate with a big idea that you want to make happen? To encourage and support innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise, we’ve collated a list of useful resources for budding entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland.
Advantage work with students, young graduates and young business owners providing a creative, innovative, cost-effective resources. The Business Planner tool is a useful resource for young people who want to start their own business.
Through this government portal, you can access heaps of useful information covering everything from writing a business plan to applying for a loan and registering your business.
Invest NI is the regional business development agenc. They help new and existing businesses to grow with financial support, advice and guidance.
NI Business Info
A free service offered by Invest NI, NI Business Info has essential information, support and services for start ups. Access guidance on regulations, funding options and more.
Propel offers you workshops, tutorials, networking opportunities, mentoring, financial support and access to investment to help you turn your business idea into a world class company.
Shell Livewire supports young entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas that address the UK’s future transport, energy, natural resource or urban development needs.
Over 300 million people around the world use LinkedIn to maintain their professional network. There are other professional social networking sites which are popular in certain countries or for certain industries, but LinkedIn is currently the largest and most diverse. They have created some useful videos and help guides for students.
Think of your profile as your online CV. Remember that people are likely to skim-read it so focus on key strengths and experiences rather than listing everything you’ve done and all your duties and responsibilities.
Understand how to use privacy settings on your other social media accounts. When people search for you online, you want to be able to control what they find.
Join and contribute to LinkedIn groups. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn. Make sure you pick relevant ones that you can be active within. There are lots of groups for students studying specific subjects as well as for professionals.
Research information about companies and look for the profiles of people with whom you may be interested in making contact. LinkedIn’s alumni tool (Topic 5 on the LinkedIn for students website is a good way to find out what graduates from your course are now doing.
Start to build your network by sending connection requests to relevant people. Alexandra Levit’s article “4 Steps for Effective Online Networking” and Alyssa Walker’s article “How to Build a Professional Network Online” have some tips for how to do this effectively. Most people will ignore the standard request sent by LinkedIn “I would like to add you to my professional network” unless they know who it’s from, so make sure you tailor each connection request. You’re also more likely to get a positive response from people you have met.
You might already have heard of DegreePlus, Queen’s employability and skills award that recognises extra-curricular activities. It looks great on your CV, but why?
Well, it shows employers that you have learned much more at university than just what was taught on your degree.
The below 12 DegreePlus Skills show recruiters you have the potential to transform organisations and add value early in your career.
What employers want: Cognitive/intellectual skills
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
Problem solving skills. The ability to analyse issues, identify barriers and offer/implement potential solutions. This may involve prioritising tasks, coping with complexity, setting achievable goals and taking action. It may also involve innovation at relevant points.
Applying subject knowledge and understanding: potentially from the degree pathway.
What employers want: Professional attributes/attitudes
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
3. Communication skills: the ability to communicate effectively in a range of professional contexts (both orally and in writing).
4. Teamwork: the ability to work with others in a team, to communicate, influence, negotiate, demonstrating adaptability/flexibility, creativity, initiative, leadership and decision-making.
5. Interpersonal skills: includes ability to engage with and motivate others, sensitivity, global and cultural awareness, moral and ethical awareness and the ability to adjust behaviour accordingly.
6. Leadership skills: leading other individuals or groups through a set of complex decisions as part of goal achievement within projects or significant and challenging activities.
What employers want: Technical skills
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
7. The ability to utilise modern technology: associated with work place or work-related activity.
8. Information technology skills: includes ability to learn, apply and exploit relevant IT programmes.
What employers want: Business and organisational skills
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
9. Business operational skills/ Commercial awareness: understanding of relevant commercial, marketing, management and/or financial processes/principles. Awareness of differences in organisational cultures and practices.
10. Business communication skills: Written, verbal and/or online.
What employers want: Language Skills and Cultural Awareness
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
11. Proficiency in foreign languages: developed through courses or overseas experiences.
12. Cultural awareness/intelligence: and the ability to implement this in a variety of multicultural contexts.
Our alumni session gathered together four successful graduates who told Rachael Corridan about the career lessons they’ve learned since leaving Queen’s. Here is what they had to say.
“Every rejection is a learning experience”
Niall McLaughlin, kdb+ developer, AquaQ Analytics
“I studied Chemistry at Queen’s and obtained valuable skills such as analytical skills, great communication skills, problem solving and adapting to new challenges. After graduation, I spent some time working as a chef, this was extremely beneficial as it’s placed me in a high pressure environment where time, teamwork, efficiency and multitasking were all critical to the day to day tasks. These experiences have helped me grow as a person and I now feel fully equipped to handle anything life throws at me.
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you will get there. I had a non-traditional route to a grad job, which taught me a lot of transferable skills. Take every rejection as a learning experience and learn to be the best version of yourself.”
“Develop your soft skills until you find the right job”
Jack McCloskey, Seagate
“I graduated Mechanical Engineering in 2019. On the back of my placement, I did an employer project with Seagate. After graduation, I developed soft skills through part-time jobs, volunteering, interview skills and travelling until a graduate job eventually came up. There are good and bad points about working in your placement company. You are familiar with the working environment, but you are straight in the deep in working with senior management.”
“Working as part of a team is so important”
Zachery Jordan, First Deriviatives
“Make the most of the transferable skills you have gained from part-time jobs; it’s so important to work as part of a team and be coherent in the ideas you are putting across.”
“Explore your options; squeeze every opportunity”
Michael Kelly, IBM London
“There will never be a graduating class like this one, but the world will not pass you by. Explore your opportunities. I missed the big four application deadlines as I was studying abroad, so I got a job in recruitment with a high basic salary, but it wasn’t the career for me. It served as a launchpad to where I am now. Squeeze as much out of any opportunity.”
“You don’t just graduate and get picked up by an employer, you have to be proactive; I opened myself to more graduate opportunities by looking in London. Take time to explore your options and find something you love. Throw yourself into everything you are asked to do in the workplace, even if a project doesn’t feel exciting, look at what you can learn from it.”
During our live online session, employers from Almac, TLT, Deloitte and Citi as well as our very own Claudine Sutherland, discussed the skills that recruiters are looking for now more than ever. Here is what they’ll be assessing you on:
“A customer focus, a strive to exceed expectations, a high standard of work, the ability to follow standard procedures of good manufacturing practice (GMP) and to lead by example – what I mean by that is to be a positive role model amongst your peers.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Communication is a key skill employers look for and the foundation on which you build other skills. Think about the most appropriate way to communicate, smile, feel the fear and embrace it, be honest.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“It’s important that you foster teamwork with colleagues; get to know them. Pick up the phone, use Skype or Teams, instead of an email. These are skills I know Queen’s graduates already have from using Canvas, the university’s online learning platform, and from communicating upwards to lecturers” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Use the job-specific knowledge you already have, either from work experience of from hobbies or sports and apply it to the work force. Show you can be a critical thinker with good problem-solving skills.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Brush up on industry jargon, understand what the job entails. Organisation is pivotal, take notes, devise training matrixes with mentors, learn from mistakes, build a network and contacts and work on your Microsoft Office skills. – Keith Barkley, Citi
“When it comes to progressing in big organisations, hard work is key” – Keith Barkley, Citi
“Attitude and motivation is 70% of it, being willing to learn and adapt is vital; Covid-19 is a prime example. If you have the right attitude, we can work with you to fill the experience gap. Self-awareness and knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important. Play to your strengths, you can’t do everything. In a team, acceptance and tolerance is key.” – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte
“Flexibility is important. Graduates often think they need to stick to one clear career path. We like to see people who have done something different and got a broad range of experience. Be flexible. Look for opportunities wherever they come up.”” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP
“We employ people with a knowledge of the commercial world; that’s not just about reading the Financial Times, it’s about having an opinion on those matters. One of the top things we look for is a commercial awareness and client focus, so understand the business you are in and what you can bring to clients.” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP
“Take ownership, be self- aware, know your limitations – employers will provide mentorship and will support your transition to the workplace. Think of your wellbeing, when it comes from self-awareness, it’s about recognising when you need support and take that support when its offered.” – Frances Weldon
“If you are in a role that genuinely interests you, you will perform better, learn faster and progress more quicker, so play to your strengths. Integrity is a massive factor, being honest in your work. If there are challenges, knowing about it is important so we can fix it. Lastly, supporting your colleagues in the firm. We are all working to the same objectives, play to your strengths and help others where they need help. – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte
We assess recruiters by our six leadership standards, the three main ones being 1. Drives value for clients – that comes back to how everyone pulls together as a team; 2. Champions progress – embracing change, and lastly, 3. Lives our values – treat people with dignity and respect – Keith Barkley, Citi
Missed this session? Join our live employer Q&A June 18th at 11.30 am Gradfest2020
Employers from EY and Pinsent Masons and our own Mary McLaughlin offered top tips to nail that online interview or assessment centre.
Tech can be glitchy
Check your wi-fi in advance and have a back-up plan in place in case of technical difficulties (e.g. your phone as well as a laptop). Also pause before and after you speak to avoid that awkward moment when you talk over your interviewer. Another top tip was to access Teams via Chrome rather than Safari.
2.Your appearance is not the only aesthetic on show
Just like in a regular interview, you need to make sure you look professional (sit up straight and make eye contact), but our panel said you also need to consider your background too. Avoid a wardrobe bulging with clothes behind you. Find a well-lit, neutral space in your house – somewhere quiet that you won’t be disturbed by noisy family members!
3.Ask the right questions
You know that moment at the end of an interview when they ask you if you have any questions? Always have some questions up your sleeve, ideally about the company goals and values. Remember in a virtual interview, you won’t get shown round the office, so ask something that will help you decide if a company is right for you. NB: Now is not the time to talk about perks like holidays and salary.
4. Virtual assessment centres follow a similar format to IRL
Just like in a real-life scenario, virtual assessment centres comprise of ice breakers via Teams, group exercises and individual numerical and written exercises. Top tip for group exercises: make sure you contribute and make your ideas heard. Jump in with solutions but don’t take over.
5.Prepare as much as you can
Have a pen and paper to hand during the call – you can practice maths skills online via jobmi.com. Better yet, log on to MyFuture to take a mock video interview that you can record and watch back. Sounds cringe, but when you notice your weird tics (avoiding the camera, overuse of ‘umms’ and ‘errrrs’) you can correct them before the real deal.
Missed today’s session? You can re-watch in your own time at Gradfest2020
Join our next live session on June 18th at 9.30 am and find out how LinkedIn could be the ace up your sleeve.
Nightmare interviews are pretty common – just ask these hilarious Twitter users who shared their experiences online after Twitter user Harriet Williamson asked her followers to recount their worst recruitment stories. Thankfully, recordings of our live Gradfest2020 sessions on acing online interviews and assessment centres are available to watch when you need them so you can avoid similar mistakes.
The panic run
2. The hungover handshake
3. The storage cupboard
4. The coffee table
5. The accidental porkie
Avoid ending up an embarrassing Twitter lesson and access essential graduate job-hunting and interview tips and resources via qub.ac.uk/GradFest2020