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The Pros and Cons of Grad Schemes and Internships

Feb 23, 2022
The Pros and Cons of Grad Schemes and Internships

Building your work experience is crucial to ensure that you can climb the career ladder, whilst also developing an idea of what type of career you’d even like to have! Thankfully, in the UK, we have a lot of options available. But, how do you know which one is the correct one for you?

We’ve taken the time to put together a comprehensive mini-guide on the pros and cons of grad schemes, internships, and placement years, as well as some advice to help you find the appropriate path for you!

 

Type of work experience Pros Cons
Grad Scheme   

 

  • Great for those who aren’t sure on a specialist route they’d like to take. A lot of grad schemes involve rotating around different functions, not only to build skills, but to determine what fits with your technical and interpersonal abilities.

     

  • Often have good progression prospects and generous remuneration packages
 

 

  • Spending time in functions that may be demotivating or not the right culture fit

     

  • Can take longer to progress as some grad schemes can run for 12-24 months depending on the company size
Internship  
  • Very common in creative fields and offer you the opportunity to learn a lot quickly

 

  • Shorter period of time so less commitment up front

     

  • Some internships are part-time so you could take on two at once to find what works best for you

     

  • You can access an internship at any age

  • Some internships can pay a lower wage which can be difficult if you don’t have financial aid or savings

     

  • No guaranteed job at the end of it
Placement Year  

 

  • Great for those who want a year worth of work experience whilst studying

     

  • Your role can be guaranteed for you post-graduation
 

 

  • Some placements may be tedious with little structure as they can only be 8-12 months

     

  • You can only do this if you go to university

The benefits of undertaking any of the three work experience opportunities are of course, for your personal and professional development, as well as the chance to earn money and begin networking as soon as possible. 

However, we understand that there can be frustrations with any path you decide to choose, which is why it’s important to do your research and ensure that it works for you.

If you’re interested in a grad scheme, we recommend the following:

  • Read their company Glassdoor: Glassdoor as a great way for you to get an insight into how the company is run, as there are reviews left by current and past employees. 
  • Ask them how long their grad scheme has been running for: Even if it’s a new grad scheme, you want to get an idea of their experience with running graduate schemes. The more organised and structured it is, the better it should be for your personal development. If it’s a corporate graduate scheme, you will also be able to find information about it online, or via a pamphlet that would be supplied to you by your university.
  • How many graduates are still with them?: This is a great way to understand whether they have retained any graduates, or if they were unsuccessful.
  • Interview for at least 3 different grad schemes and compare them: Don’t just go for the first grad scheme you see, window-shop, first!

If you’re interested in an internship, we recommend the following:

  • Read their company Glassdoor: Glassdoor as a great way for you to get an insight into how the company is run, as there are reviews left by current and past employees. 
  • Ask them how often they run internships: You want to try and get an idea of how much involvement interns have in the day to day of the business, and also how much exposure you’ll get to senior individuals. Funnily enough, you (secretly) shouldn’t want to be put in a group with too many interns, as this may reduce your chances of making an impact. Understanding how they run their internship will give you a better flavour of what you may do if you’re successful!
  • How many interns are still with them?: Are they just hiring interns for cheap labour, or, is there something at the end of it?
  • Interview for at least 2 different internships and compare them: We appreciate that interviewing for multiple short-term internships can be mentally and financially taxing, so, try and find one other so you have a small comparison!

If you’re interested in a placement year, we recommend the following:

  • Read their company Glassdoor: Glassdoor as a great way for you to get an insight into how the company is run, as there are reviews left by current and past employees. 
  • Ask them how long their placement scheme has been running for: If they are well-known for placements with good feedback, you will already have confidence that you’ll be looked after in the organisation. This isn’t to imply that a new placement scheme is bad, but you’ll want to know a few more details before committing. 
  • How many placement students are still with them?: This is a great question to ask to find out whether there are any guaranteed graduate prospects at the end of it.
  • Interview for at least 3 different placement schemes and compare them: With placements, you will be allocated enough time from your university to find something. So, window-shop and interview with as many places as possible!

And finally, remember you’re only at the beginning of your career! So, there’s no rush. Too often we can feel the pressures of society telling us that we need to be at a certain place by a certain time. But, the point of grad schemes, internships or placement years are to give us the foundations of work experience which we can use to build our future careers.

So, even if you do all the research and it isn’t what you expected, try to take it in your stride and know that there are plenty of amazing opportunities for the taking in the future!

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