Unmissable Commercial Graduate Schemes You Should Apply For.

Commercial graduate schemes can rocket a business management graduate into a leadership position super-fast. Here’s how to secure your place.

How to Land a Place on a Top Commercial Graduate Scheme 

Graduate schemes offer the opportunity for you to fast-track your career after achieving your business management degree.

But what are they, and which ones offer the best training, benefits, and CV-building opportunities?

What is a graduate scheme? 

Once you’ve got your high-level business management degree, it’s time to put it to work! Graduate schemes offer top talent fresh out of university the opportunity to learn on-the-job at a fast pace.

You’ll learn the real-world applications of your degree and take on an increasing level of responsibility as you progress through the scheme.
Graduate schemes aren’t internships: you’re paid a salary – often, one that’s highly desirable and with additional benefits like company cars and private healthcare. You’re put on an intensive mentoring scheme, too: the pressure will be high but the rewards are definitely worth it.

How to get onto a commercial graduate scheme 

The first thing is to research, research, research. There are tons of graduate schemes out there, with many run by major organisations like McKinsey & Company, BNP Paribas, Bolton Consulting Group, and Deloitte. What you want from your scheme will affect where you choose to apply.

Some, for example, offer rotational placements, where you’ll spend time in different departments and roles. Others focus specifically on a fast-track leadership path to your chosen area, such as logistics management or business intelligence.

Your degree requirements 

You’ll need to have an exceptional degree in a relevant subject to be considered for the top business management grad schemes. A 2:1 is the minimum degree you’ll need to hold – but a First could give you an advantage over the competition. This is because it shows you’ve managed to apply yourself, demonstrated ambition, and can analyse vast amounts of information with ease.

What else is important when applying for a grad scheme?

Your degree subject and grade are just one part of getting onto a great graduate scheme. Take these steps to improve your chances of securing a place.

Start looking early 

Don’t wait until you’re ready to graduate to look at schemes. The application period is often early into your final year of university – so make sure you’ve done your research in good time.

No really, start looking EARLY 

Many companies run internships as well as graduate schemes. Look at taking these work experience opportunities during your summer break – or even as part of your course, if you want to work for the likes of Microsoft or similar giants.

Getting the experience is one thing: earning the networking contacts from an internship is next-level grad scheme planning. You can use these contacts to provide information about what you’ll need to do to stand out in the grad scheme application process.

Use your university student services and careers office 

Your student services and careers office – often accessible in the first year or so after you graduate, too – is an invaluable resource. They’ll point you towards potential business management graduate schemes that’d suit what you’re looking for, and even hold conduct mock interviews or have test papers for you to try out.

They’ll help you build your application into must-interview status. It’s all free advice too – use it!

Take up hobbies at university 

You’ll need to show your ambitions outside of education, too. Someone with a passion for a hobby, or who demonstrates leadership in a sport, or volunteers for charity, is more attractive to potential employers. It shows you’re a rounded person with interests that build transferable skills – and that you’re a great communicator, too.

Write an incredible personal statement 

Remember when you applied to university: your UCAS personal statement seemed like such a big deal. You’ll need to craft something similar – only now, it takes into account your experiences at uni, too.

Ask a trusted lecturer to look over your personal statement. They’ll have a good idea of the things the top commercial graduate schemes are looking for – so can help you hone your statement in detail.

The typical application process for a grad scheme 

When you know where you want to apply, and have your personal statement ready, it’s time to start the application process.

Graduate scheme applications are very much like job interviews. Your application is screened for suitability, and if they like it they’ll invite you to meet in person. Sometimes, you’ll have online tests or a phone interview to pass first.

Group interviews are common for the first stage. You’ll need to demonstrate your communication skills, listening abilities, and teamwork. Show that you can work with others, learn, take on feedback – but also lead when required.
After this round, when most applicants are cut, you’ll have one-to-one interviews. Be yourself! They don’t expect you to know everything – that’s what they’re hoping to teach you. Instead, they’re looking for people who are a good personality fit and who demonstrate the skills required for the job.

You might have a couple of these interviews, depending on the company and the scheme. They need to make sure they’re getting the cream of the crop – so be prepared for an intense process!

Not sure a grad scheme is for you? 

Graduate schemes are fantastic – but they are highly competitive to enter and hugely demanding of your time and effort. If you’re unsuccessful in your application – or don’t think it’s right for you – don’t panic.

There are plenty of careers suited to your business management degree! Check out our community as a springboard to discover your new career.