As a student, it probably seems like you’re applying for everything - colleges, jobs, loans, visas, and even just to graduate! Well, we hope to help you with some of those graduate programme applications by giving you all the information you need to make an informed decision.  

🤔 What is a graduate programme?

Typically lasting between one or two years, grad programmes allow graduates to start their careers in a given industry without having any prior work experience. They are designed to provide graduates with a well-structured, well-rounded introduction to the working world, giving them the time to explore different aspects of the business and develop their skill-set.

Pro Tip: Take a look at the companies you’re interested in and see if they offer graduate programmes. Then make a list of the application due dates. This helps you plan ahead of time and ensures your applications will be considered. 

🤝 What are the benefits of graduate programmes? 

There are several benefits from joining a graduate programme - a supported transition from university to the workplace, helping decide a career path, networking, getting to know a company’s ins and outs in a low-stress environment, and upskilling on the job. Companies are aware you are just finishing college and need more guidance as you enter ‘the real world’.

These programmes are often designed with hands-on learning and have rotations where you’ll support different teams within the business. If you’ve studied in a broad field, for example, management, there are several paths - human resources, sales, operations, consultancy, analyst, project manager, etc. These programmes often enable you to work in a variety of roles across the business to see where you're best suited - and pay you for it! 

🙋 Who is eligible for graduate programmes? 

For the reasons stated above, graduate programs are competitive and highly sought-after. Because there are a limited number of spaces available each year, the application process may be difficult and demanding. You might anticipate taking psychometric tests, proof of a good final grade, visiting assessment centres, among other things.

Eligibility is dependent on the company but generally follow the same requirements - a relevant degree, knowledge in the field through internships or shown through the interview process, soft skills such as being a strong team player or a good problem solver and most importantly - a good attitude. These can be demonstrated in your CV and cover letter which are crucial tools to help you stand out from the crowd. Here are some resources to help: 

How to make your CV stand out from the crowd 

How to write a graduate CV 

How to write the perfect cover letter

☝️ What’s the difference between an internship, a summer internship, and a graduate programme? 

While similar in work experience, internships are generally for a shorter, set, period of time. These can work in a co-op, short for cooperative education, a capacity in which students are able to alternate academic study with full-time employment or simultaneously with their studies. These are typically designed for undergraduates in their early years. 

Summer internships can accelerate your career, as explained in a previous post, by offering you work without the additional workload of college. This is the time when you can fully concentrate on a job in a career path that you think you might pursue in the future. They are typically short-term three-month programmes designed for students. 

Graduate programs are more structured than internships or summer internships, offering full-time pay and all the benefits and perks that interns may not have access to. Not only are they paid, but they offer security over a one or two year period which is what graduates typically value most.

💶 Salary Check: 

According to the Irish Times, graduate programmes in Ireland pay between €30,000 and €60,000 per year, depending on the sector, employer, and location. In 2021, they said that Accenture wages begin at €35,000, Lidl salaries begin at €36,000, and Aldi salaries begin at €65,000 per year, with graduates receiving a fully expensed corporate car (BMW 3 series), a company phone, and a company laptop - not a bad deal! 

If you're not sure whether a graduate programme's salary will be able to cover your expenses, check out sites like Glassdoor to get some insights. The alternative is to find someone who works for the company, knows someone who works there or is in a position similar to the one you're in to see if they can assist you. Don't be afraid to ask for help; as long as you do it in a polite and professional manner, most people will respond positively and help you in the best way possible.

Conclusion: Are graduate programmes worth it? 

While dependent on what you are looking for, there's no doubt that getting hands-on experience is extremely beneficial in the early stages of your career. Moving forward, you can draw from ideas or processes in your learned from your grad programme to build out bigger, or better, ideas. Even if you don't want to stay in that particular company or industry once you complete the programme, the skills and experience you acquire through the duration of it will give your CV the boost needed to help you land your next job.

As internationally known public speaker and entrepreneur Porter Gale once said, your network is your net worth. In this new digital age, your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships will be a crucial asset to having a long and successful career. Not only will the graduates you work alongside provide you with a network of like-minded individuals to ask questions to, collaborate with and learn from, the mentors you meet in more senior roles within the company be a life-long resource you can leverage further down the line no matter what direction your career path takes you.