Surviving the scheming: Navigating post-grad options

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The pressure is mounting for all those third-years unwillingly heading towards graduation and the real world beyond the bubble of university. There are so many options for those of us moving on, whether it be continuing in education to do a masters or PhD, having a gap year and travelling the world, starting something new via diploma or course, or sucking it up and accepting it is finally time to enter the real world of work and getting a full 9-5 job.

Nevertheless, it is the prospect of Grad Schemes that seem to be filling us all with fear. There are simply so many of them for companies, charities, or organisations and all of them have different application techniques, interview processes and deadlines. All everyone ever asks, regardless of your discipline or level of degree, is which Grad Schemes are you applying for? How many have you submitted? Did you get in with that company? Or to this assessment centre?

But the fact of the matter is, they simply aren’t as great as they appear to be. Grad schemes offer many things. They offer security in a well-paid job for a fresh-out-of-uni graduate, they offer definite success and opportunity to climb that ever-increasing career ladder, and they offer a solid reason for that mounting student debt. But what they fault to inform us when stressing over their applications is that, as estimated by ‘Which? University’, there are only actually around 20,000 Grad Schemes on offer each year. Given that there is estimated average of 124,000 graduates beginning professional level jobs each year, that leaves us with over 100,000 graduates that cannot be entering these schemes and are finding alternative employment. Are they really worth battling for?

There are so many other ways to enter the career of your choice. Often applying to work for a company role with your newly acquired degree and relevant work experience or voluntary work will do just as much for you as if you had applied for that overzealous scheme. There are so many businesses, companies and organisations that are not a part of the grad schemes that many people don’t even think of applying to despite it offering them just as many benefits.

Applying straight into a business or company shows confidence and the willingness to work hard and achieve independently. Grad Schemes, on the other hand, are highly competitive, may require you to move to a new city (probably London, where you’ll be lucky to afford more than a bowl of cereal for your dinner) and they often don’t suit every personality.

So it may seem like the be-all and end-all that you attain that Grad Scheme which forty Lancaster students alone attended. And maybe it is offering you the best opportunity for your choice of career. However, don’t be fooled by their scheming ways, smothering the other opportunities available to you. Don’t feel that you have to join in the panic and apply to as many as you can, as quickly as you can. There will always be jobs out there and there will most certainly be something for you, Grad Scheme or not.

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