Graduate Choices: Job vs Scheme

Deciding what to do after graduation can be tricky. The maze of online info can be confusing, and the competition from the other graduates at the starting gate can be all too real.

This part of your life isn’t about pleasing other people. Parents, tutors and the rest had their reward the moment you crossed the stage and accepted your degree. Now it’s time to think about what you want from your career.

Applying for a job and wanting to make the most of your education naturally leads to a fork in the road:

Is it a graduate scheme I need, or a graduate job?

There are similarities between these options, but also subtle differences:

Ready, set, GO!

Both schemes and jobs can be extremely competitive. There are limited places and positions, with everyone wanting to get their foot in the door. Graduate scheme intakes will depend upon the size of the company. Larger companies will recruit in proportion to their needs. Most firms that run graduate schemes will recruit a portion of graduates each year. Graduate jobs, on the other hand, will be advertised when a position becomes available (so there’s no guarantee you’ll find something quickly).

Jump those hoops

Graduate schemes have an application window: often September to January, with new recruits joining the company in the following July.

Applying for a graduate job will come about once you’ve left university or are about to leave. Application times are less rigid and available all year round. The application process is more straightforward as well: you apply, you have an interview and find out if you’re successful. Grad schemes involve multiple stages and testing, with a longer wait to find out if you’ve been successful.

Financial times

You’re likely to receive a less competitive wage with an entry-level graduate job than with a graduate scheme. Graduate schemes often include employment perks as well as better wages.


The biggest difference between the two will be the training packages. A graduate job will offer a basic introduction to the business, with training and further support if requested. You will be able to take ownership of your new position quickly, with progression dependent upon your own motivation.

Graduate schemes are very structured. Generally they involve intense training with regular performance reviews. Opportunities to experience different areas of the company will expand your vocational experience. Often this comes with the bonus of speaking with senior members of staff, who are likely to remember you if you make a good impression.


Graduate schemes don’t always guarantee a job at the end of the program (or your scheme may involve you competing for the limited permanent jobs available). A graduate job differs in that you’re officially on the career ladder from day one.

Ultimately, both options provide you with paid employment and experience. Which you choose really does depend on what you’re looking for in a career.

Some argue that graduate schemes don’t produce better employees, but pick the best to recruit. Either way, a scheme can get you on track for senior level positions right from the off, if that’s what you want. Graduate jobs can be more flexible, with the initial experience allowing you to progress, or even helping you to decide on your future.

The great thing is that you have the opportunity to choose.

If you’re looking for a graduate scheme with excellent opportunities and career package, why not check out James Andrews? We’re a forward-thinking investor in people, with a reputation for quality training and staff development.