We know we can’t expect to leave Uni and be earning £60k a year but we do want to be paid well for our work, we’re paying off 3 years student loan after all, so in which industries are the top paying graduate jobs? In this article we’ll look at the best jobs for recent grads and focus on how you can get onto a graduate scheme and the awesome alternative if you don’t get accepted onto one.
The deadline to apply for graduate schemes is usually around November/December, so use this article to get informed and decide if a graduate scheme is for you and give yourself the best chance of getting onto one.
Graduate schemes or graduate jobs as they’re also known can be a good way to get your career off to a great start, the salary is usually good, in the UK it’s around £22k-28k per year, averaging out at almost £27k but starting salary for grads could be as far apart as £20k and £45k.
Aside from a good salary, a graduate scheme will often set out a path to take you from entry level graduate to the higher reaches of an organization. The company will likely have an interest in developing you and keeping you after the 18-24 month period as it’s in their best interest after investing the time and money into training you (and the added cost of training someone else should you leave).
Something important to mention is the lengthy hiring process to get onto a graduate scheme, usually involving a novel’s worth of a written application, phone interview, group interview/assessment day and an in-person interview. Most people do not receive offers and so a crazy amount of time is wasted for the majority of applicants, so you can expect to sink an awful lot of time into this without necessarily getting anything from it.
So you’ve decided a graduate scheme is for you, so how can you get onto one? I’ve already mentioned the competition is intense and the process is a real drag but remember, the companies want to hire someone and a graduate scheme can set you up long-term, so what should you do?
In short: Get your CV in order (I’ll show you how to give it a huge boost below), build a LinkedIn network (not just your friends and Uni colleagues, there’s usually not a great benefit there) and finally look in the appropriate places for the best vacancies.
I went through the process to get onto a graduate scheme and it went like this:
1. Online application
2. Phone interview
3. In person interview
4. Job-related task via email
5. Second in-person interview
6. Second job-related task
7. Presentation & final in-person interview with hiring manager & director
8. They called me to say I didn’t get it
The entire process took a few weeks and while it was frustrating to sink hours into this process, it wasn’t so bad, I got through round after round with relative ease, the people were pleasant and we had a laugh over interests/previous experiences. I didn’t get the job in the end, I gave a pretty nervy presentation (until I was about 22 my presentations were god awful, I was nervous and felt like my voice was either monotone or switching between soprano and baritone).
They could see I wasn’t a sales person (they were right, I’m not a sales person so I could have no complaints). I’d gone for the job because the money was insane, and having just graduated Uni I was looking for a job that would give me a head start paying off my student loan.
It’s worked out well in the end and now I’m doing something I love, writing for a living, but it taught me two valuable lessons:
· The hiring process for graduate schemes is frustrating as hell, so it has to be worth the risk of wasting a month of your time if you don’t get it, do this by…
· Going after a job in which you will enjoy the day-to-day
By now you will be sick of teachers, lecturers, career advisors and parents telling you to get your CV in order. You’ve listed your experiences, qualifications and the 3 months you spent volunteering to build schools in Nepal so you’re set right? Not necessarily. Most recruiters and hiring managers are looking for RELEVANT EXPERIENCE. Highlight the things on your CV that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. How?
I’ll give you an example because as a recent grad it can be difficult to get past the ‘We feel you don’t have the necessary experience’ stage that we all go through. This one was a total game changer for me. Let’s say you’re applying to get onto a financial management graduate scheme but as a recent grad you don’t have much experience so your CV will look pretty blank right?
Well, just because you didn’t do a 6-month internship at Deloitte isn’t the end of the world. So what can you do if you don’t have much experience?
Did you do your own budgeting? With your student loan or salary? Did you enjoy it? What did you learn? It’s RELEVANT EXPERIENCE and whilst it’s true most recent grads won’t have relevant experience you can use this to your advantage to give your application a boost for two reasons:
It’s similar with other industries:
Marketing – Run a blog? (My friend found her new job when the company liked her personal blog)
Engineering – Ever built anything?
IT – Ever tinkered with a system or equipment? (That comes from the CEO of Blue Corona)
In making this simple change, I quickly went from eagerly checking my email every morning when I woke up, hoping to see that one email offering me an interview, to sending my own replies rejecting offers because I had already accepted another. So if you make the same changes, it stands to reason the same will likely happen for you.
If you can add relevant experience to your CV/application, it will help you standoutbecause it is something that hiring manager/recruiters value. So you don’t need to go do Duke of Edinburgh Gold or spend your Summer volunteering if that’s not something you would enjoy, so many people do it so it’s no longer a bonus to your application, it just makes you an average candidate.
Just a short list of the most lucrative graduate jobs as I think you will find it more useful to learn HOW to get one, as the money will come anyway (and most of the highest paid graduate schemes are in engineering).
1. Consultant: £25-40,000
Min. requirements: Degree in related field & relevant experience (internship)
2. Analyst: £25-40,000
Min. requirements: Degree in finance related field
3. Software Engineer: £26-37,000
Min. requirements: Degree in computer science/related field & Postgraduate degree
4. Mechanical Engineer: £25-34,000
Min. requirements: Degree in mechanical engineering
5. Engineer: £24-33,000
Min. requirements: Degree in engineering
6. Software Developer: £26-39,000
Min. requirements: Degree in software engineering
7. Civil Engineer: £25-30,000
Min. requirements: Degree & Masters
8. Structural Engineer: £26-33,000
Min. requirements: Degree & postgrad in civil engineering
9. Management Trainee: £17-19,000
Min. requirements: Business Management degree
10. Recruitment Consultants: £18-22,000
Min. requirements: Some have a degree, others go straight to recruiting and work up!
These are generalized, so salaries will vary as well as what companies will require, but it should give you a good idea of what companies will expect & what they can offer you.
This section will be useful for those of you who:
· Unsure about whether a graduate scheme is for you and want to find out what else is out there
There is already so much help and advice for people wanting to get onto graduate schemes, but what about those who don’t feel it’s for them? Or had their application rejected? Not getting onto a graduate scheme is not the end of the world and there are awesome alternatives.
You could start a regular job or try and start your own business, both viable alternatives, but if you’re reading this then you were looking for something safer than starting your own company and more interesting than stacking shelves or sitting doing admin in an office for the next 40 years, so what can you do? An internship.
A fair question, graduate schemes and regular jobs are paid better than internships, there's no question, internships are usually offered to students pre-graduation, but even if you have graduated, it can be your route into a company, your ‘foot in the door’, particularly useful to those of us starting out without any business or family contacts!
An internship allows you to test out a company/industry and allows them to see if you are someone they want to keep long-term. In that sense its similar to a graduate scheme just without the lengthy recruitment process, it’s a compact version in that you demonstrate what you’ve done/what you can bring to the company and in return, what they can offer you, a month-long application process and assessment centre for internships are extremely uncommon.
A trial run of a company/ industry and the interesting thing I learned is something I spoke at length about in another article, so have a look at Find an internship in Europe in 2018 if you’re interested.
Just 3 examples for you, my internship was in Barcelona, the money wasn’t great by any means, but it’s led to me becoming Content Manager, writing from anywhere I want – the beach in Costa Brava, a nice little café, actually, I’m writing this while camping with my dog, I couldn´t have got this without my initial internship, if you perform well in a job you love the money will more than likely take care of itself, if you are able to demonstrate you add value to an organisation they (most companies) will pay you well for it.
Example number 2) A friend of mine started his internship 2 years before me and is now working elsewhere as Chief Media Officer (earning far more than anyone on a graduate scheme).
Example number 3) The final example I will tell you about is a guy who came straight from his second year at Uni in England and is now running a marketing team as Social Media Manager, loving the responsibility and might not go back for the third year he´s enjoying life that much.
If you’re interested in an internship take a look at 23 reasons to do an internship where I interviewed people who have completed all sorts of internships and gone on to have awesome careers including one woman who is Marketing Manager at Jaguar and another who is working in a production company coming up with ideas for TV show’s!
To sum up…
In conclusion I will say that Graduate Schemes are great if you can get onto them, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t, there's a great alternative, you can still end up with an awesome job earning great money, just following a different route, in the wise words of Joe Lycett, follow your own path…