Starting a grad scheme – My tips

Like other fortunate recent graduates, I was lucky enough to be offered a place on graduate scheme. I was over the moon when I had found out that I had managed to find a job, I celebrated in my usual way of consuming way too much food and I spent most of the day telling everyone the good news despite me having a big piece of coursework to hand in the next week!

However, over the summer, I began to become anxious about whether I would be ‘good enough’ for the graduate scheme. I think everyone has a stereotypical idea of what a typical graduate is like: high achieving, confident and most definitely an expert networker. But, I didn’t think of myself having any of these qualities. Whilst I confess at the assessment centre, I was a more confident and bolder version of myself, I was worried that I would have to be this version of myself everyday of my graduate scheme. That would take way too much focus and energy – its most definitely not something that comes naturally to me.

I am now about a month into my graduate scheme and I can happily say that I am not the person I was at my assessment centre all the time. I may have to bring that side of me to work at times but for the rest, I can feel like myself. And I really wanted to share a few tips and experiences I have had for any of you that may have recently or about to begin a graduate scheme.

1. Talk to EVERYONE: At my company, there were four different streams that a graduate could be working in, I found that most graduates tended to keep to their stream and not speak to others. You will never know when it will come in handy to know someone in a different department – so make the most of it and start to build those relationships up now!

2. Say YES to everything: Starting a new graduate scheme is very much like freshers week at University. Saying yes to everything is probably the best advice that I was told in my first year at University. Who knows what opportunities will appear if you agree to go for a drink after work … or if you agree to help out on a side project.

3. Ask lots of QUESTIONS: The fortunate thing about graduates is that you’re expected to know very little. So take this and use it to your advantage, ask those stupid questions that you’re going to be embarrassed to ask! Ask questions even if you’re not that interested or it doesn’t really relate to you. Chances are, it probably will help you understand the wider business issues and this will only help you throughout your graduate career.

4. Many companies offering graduate schemes will provide you with a mentor or a buddy. And in many cases, you will be given more than one. This can seem overwhelming as you might be unsure of what to use them all for! But be selfish and have an idea in your head of what you would like to use each mentor for. Whether this may be career advice, asking more of those stupid questions, someone to bounce ideas off or just someone to let your steam off to. But be proactive about it!

5. Set OBJECTIVES: Have an idea of what you want to get out of your graduate scheme and what you want to get out of each placement/team that you may be working in. This could be understanding the role your team plays within the whole business, being given the opportunity to work on your weaknesses or having the opportunity to shadow a completely different department to yours!

I hope these tips help you if you’re worried about starting a graduate scheme!

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