What are the general qualities that all graduates should be looking for from their future employer? If you’re a final-year student wondering how to choose the right graduate scheme, you’ll no-doubt have made a mental list. That’s great—just because competition for these programmes is fierce, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be choosy. This is the rest of your life we’re talking about, after all. 
Starting out your career on the right foot means meeting as many of your expectations as possible early on. So let’s take a look at how you can best go about it.
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A pleasant working environment

Great communication with managers and peers alike

The opportunity to develop and progress

Career security, even above job security

A pleasant working environment

We spend the majority of our lives at work, so we want to make sure that our place of employment is somewhere we enjoy being. The facilities, the atmosphere, the ease of access and added extras of the working environment will all make a huge difference to the way you’ll feel about your graduate scheme.

Here at Nestlé, for instance, our health and wellbeing agenda is built into our place of work. Our Head Offices have been dog-friendly since 2015, so our graduates can bring their pet pooches to work. What’s more, inclusion and belonging are core elements of our atmosphere—we blend individuals from all walks of life for a richer cultural experience. It’s those kinds of things that really make a difference to the way you feel about going to work.

Great communication with managers and peers alike

Gen Zs simply do not do bad vibes at work. Positivity, respect and empathy are key drivers in today’s graduate workplaces. So, as a final-year student looking to identify the ideal graduate employer, expect to find yourself in a workplace that’s big on those factors.

Your future employer should not run a top-down culture but, rather, an inclusive one where voices are heard, opinions taken on-board and decisions made collaboratively to drive the best outcomes. A happy workforce is a motivated workforce and savvy employers will know that and encourage it.

Pushing previously marginalised voices to the fore should be a part of your graduate employer’s agenda, just like it is at Nestlé. Here, for instance, we celebrate inspirational women, raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and drive a strong agenda for belonging for people from all walks of life. A great graduate employer will empower diverse voices.

The opportunity to develop and progress

The very notion of a graduate scheme is built on developing future leaders, so this is—of course—the most basic expectation you should have when searching for graduate programmes.

Look for structured development that gives you a clear career pathway to leadership. You should expect to know what you’ll learn, who’ll help you to learn it and what tools will be available to help you along the way. Not to mention what will be expected of you in order to get where you want to be.

At Nestlé—for instance—we ensure that our graduates are fully onboarded into the business when they join us and have continual mentorship from credible, influential leaders in their respective fields. We also give clear guidance as to how our graduates can expect to develop and over what period—as well as what they can expect once they complete their programme.

Career security, even above job security

Back when the parents of today’s final-year students were graduating, people used to talk about the concept of “a job for life.” As an ambitious Gen Z with a fluid approach to your future, the very thought of that will likely be terrifying. What you will be looking for, though, is the idea that your career (if not a specific role) offers security.

So expect to work for a graduate employer that gives you a strong sense of solidity going into the future. Nestlé, for example, is the world’s largest food and beverage company with a history of more than 150 years. That’s one of the benefits of working for an FMCG company.

Make sure, though, that—also like Nestlé—it’s a company that offers structured progression as you grow and develop. So that your career isn’t simply secure thanks to the sector, but also because your employer has a robust approach to how they’ll shape your skills, goals and ambitions.

Remember, it’s a competitive space, the graduate employment sector—so you’ll definitely need to have your game face on, wherever you choose to apply. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should just randomly fire out applications. By putting your all into applying to the company or companies that most appeal to you, you’ll give yourself the very best shot of getting the programme you want.

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