Working out which graduate scheme will best suit your personality, level of ambition and skill set may feel like a big challenge. There are a few steps you can take, however, to help ensure you make the right decision for your future career. Let’s see what you can do to find the perfect graduate programme for you.
Contents

Know where to look

Consider the FMCG sector

Have high expectations

Pick the right company for you

Know where to look

Before you make any choices about which graduate scheme to do, it’s essential that you’re aware of all the choices out there. So, make sure you leave no stone unturned in your search.

Searching for a graduate scheme naturally starts on graduate careers sites like prospects.ac.uk, just because most major employers advertise their grad schemes on there. Just be aware that competition for those schemes will be fierce as such sites are really popular with students, as well as employers.

Lots of graduate employers will be targeting final-year students on their social media pages, too, so look out for ads on your Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, amongst others. If you see an ad for a graduate scheme, it’s because your demographic information fits the profile of the advertiser, so it’s well worth clicking because the scheme is likely to be one that’ll suit you.

Google search is one of the best ways to find good graduate schemes. Why? Well, you can tell by which companies come up high on the search engine results pages how popular they are. The ones at the top are the ones most graduates are engaging with, so it’s a good indicator that they’re running a worthwhile programme.

Don’t forget word-of-mouth when it comes to looking for a graduate scheme, either. Asking around—your alumni friends, lecturers, parents, etc.—might actually help you to see which companies’ graduate programmes have the best reputations, which is, again, a good sign that they’re worth looking into.

Finally, check out the graduate fairs, if you get the chance. Employers large and small attend those events, giving you chance to talk to current graduates on the schemes as well as mentors and experts. You can even fill out applications on the day, if one takes your fancy.

Consider the FMCG sector

There are lots of benefits to doing a graduate scheme in FMCG (or CPG as it’s also known).

Fast moving consumer goods are made by massive businesses (Nestlé is one of them—the biggest food and drink company in the world, no less) and the variety of divisions and roles is equally massive. You can pursue virtually any career within an FMCG company—from nutrition to engineering to logistics to HR to Finance to Marketing to... (You get the idea.)

Because there’s such a massive array of roles, it also means there’s not only significant growth potential within an FMCG business, but also real breadth of opportunity—you might start out in one area, develop your skills and eventually see that they’d be better suited to a different division. Within an FMCG business, there should be ample opportunity to diversify your skill set.

One of the best things about FMCG is career stability. Companies that make high-volume, low-price consumer goods like food and drink are successful because people always need the things they make. Just look at Nestlé—we’ve been around over 150 years and are still growing. There’s virtually no more stable type of business than an FMCG business.

International travel is another great benefit of this type of career. Not in every company, obviously—but a lot of them. Maybe the company itself will have local headquarters all over the world and/or maybe its clients or suppliers will be overseas. For graduates who want to spend their lives seeing cool, new places, FMCG is a great choice.

The other thing about FMCG businesses is that they tend to be very switched-on when it comes to corporate social responsibility and giving back to communities and the planet. Just take Nestlé and our Creating Shared Value initiative, for instance. The global, positive impact graduates can have working for big businesses that most people use is enormous—just one small change of an ingredient, for instance, might lead to a healthier planet.

Have high expectations

What should you look for from a graduate employer? Is a foot in the door of their business enough? Or should you expect a bit more—we would say you should. Here at Nestlé, we put a huge amount of effort into developing our grad programmes.

Make sure you get:

  • A nice place to work—somewhere with great facilities, atmosphere, approach to wellbeing and a diverse, welcoming environment built on inclusion and belonging
  • A collaborative communication style—an employer that respects graduates, gives a voice to previously marginalised people and listens to what its people have to say.
  • The chance to grow and develop—all graduate employers should offer that as standard, really, but look for great onboarding, structured development, mentoring and clear career pathways
  • A sense of career security—of course, you want a company with an eye on the future, but one that has a history, too, will give you real career security—if it’s been around for a long time, there’s a reason for that

The best employers are highly competitive when it comes to their graduate schemes, but don’t let that put you off—you should aim high and put your all into your application. This is your entire career. Don’t settle for second best.

Pick the right company for you

It might sound obvious, but starting out a graduate career isn’t just about picking a company because it’s a good one. You could work for the most popular employer on the planet and still be unhappy if it’s not the kind of company you want to work for. So, pick the employer that’s right for you.

You’ll need to think about what sector you want to work in. We’ve already talked about FMCG because it offers such massive breadth of scope for you to develop and grow. Think about the things you like to do though—and what motivates you. This will help you decide what kind of company might be right for you. Are you—for example—outdoorsy, easily bored, innovative, interested in the environment and community, or driven to become a leader? What kind of company will suit your personality?

List the brands you’d most love to work for and see if they have graduate schemes. Aiming high is a great thing to do, because it means you’re already on your journey to achieving self-confidence in your career. If they don’t have graduate schemes, which companies could you work for that are similar in size and scope and do have graduate schemes?

Now, explore all the different divisions within those companies and see what kinds of roles are on offer. How do they relate to what you learned at uni, your personal skill set and your personality? Would someone who—say—wants a desk job go into Purchasing for an international company? No. By the same token, would someone who’s more focused on operational mechanics than innovation go into research and development? No. It’s all about working out who you are and whether you could see yourself in a particular type of department.

Finally, check out the company culture. This is probably one of the most important parts. You want to feel like you fit in and are welcomed. Is it a hierarchical company or does it have a flatter structure than that? Is the culture top-down or bottom-up? Is it formal or informal? Do they have a particular project management methodology they apply (e.g. Waterfall or Agile)? What’s wrong for one kind of graduate will be right for another.

Once you’ve worked all this out, you can make your shortlist—and guess what—it will probably shorter than you think. Eliminating companies who aren’t right for you isn’t a bad thing to do. It just means you’ve found the ones that are—and you’ll be well on your way to starting the career you really want.


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