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To grad scheme or not to grad scheme?

Madeleine Tickell

Information Officer, Careers and Employability

31 October 2019

We are fast approaching the season for graduate scheme applications – but before you settle down to apply, think about whether a graduate scheme is right for you.

What is the difference between a graduate scheme and a graduate job?

Graduate schemes are different from graduate jobs. They are most commonly (but not exclusively) offered by large companies, and normally offer:

  • Structured training
  • Large cohorts of new starters
  • Competitive pay

Some graduate schemes will also pay for you to complete professional qualifications as you work. Graduate scheme recruitment opens in the Autumn Term and you’ll have to progress through several rounds, such as written applications, psychometric tests, and assessment centres.


Graduate jobs, on the other hand, usually recruit later in the year, and offer places in a smaller team or organisation. Graduate jobs are more numerous and offered by companies in a wider variety of sectors – but can be just as competitive. Salaries are generally lower than offered by graduate schemes, but this depends on the job, so do your research.


Realising that I didn't have to follow a set career path let me explore wider options. – Business School Alum

What is right for me?

There is no “best” path! Whether you decide to go for a graduate scheme, or for a graduate job, this is a personal choice.

Reflecting on my skills and attributes, I realised that a graduate job was right for me.– A recent MA History graduate

Here are 3 top tips to help you decide:

What steps does this job offer for a future career?

Some graduate schemes do not offer guaranteed employment after completing a scheme, whereas graduate jobs are more likely to be offered indefinitely – check this out for each job you apply for.

Are there opportunities for progression and travel, if this is important to you?

Graduate schemes tend to have more structured progression than graduate jobs, but because graduate schemes recruit larger numbers, it may be harder to get noticed than if you’re in a graduate job within a smaller team.

Most importantly, are you passionate about the role and the organisation?   

You’ll be spending a lot of time at your new job, so think about the practicalities of working for this organisation – do you respond to their mission and their working environment?

Next steps

King’s Careers and Employability can help you, whichever path you choose to explore.

 Hot Pink Singular Cube   Read guidance and top tips on interviews and assessment centres via your Keats page.

Sea Blue Singular Cube    Search for opportunities on King’s Careers Connect.

Orange Singular Cube    If you’ve recently graduated, set up a graduate account on King’s Careers Connect

Once you've received an email that your student account is closing, you can register for an alumni account with your non-King's email address. Then you can access all our support for two years after your course ends.

Teal Singular Cube    After reading these resources, book an appointment via King’s Careers Connect.

You can access Career consultations, Application advisers or practice interviews.

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