There isn’t a strict definition, but graduate schemes tend to be defined by the following criteria:
- Operated by large organisations which are often household names e.g. Civil Service, NHS, PwC, GSK, BT
- Fixed term – usually 18 months – 2 years. Most people are offered permanent jobs with the organisation at the end of the fixed term.
- These are real jobs with some additional study/support elements. Many operate a rotational system so that graduates spend some time working in different departments.
- Well paid – they usually have better pay and benefits than other graduate options.
- Competitive – when you read in the media c.80 people applying for every graduate job, it’s generally graduate schemes they are talking about.
- Some organisations set entry requirements of 2.1 or above and some set UCAS requirements. There is also usually a long recruitment process.
- Timeline – most (but not all) are open for applications in autumn and many (but not all) close by December.
- Graduate schemes are not the only route to a graduate job! Most graduates find graduate level work outside of graduate schemes.
Find graduate schemes:
Relevant websites for Politics, International Studies & Philosophy Students
Bond - Site offers information on starting a career in international development, events and jobs.
w4mp (Working 4 an MP)- good site for parliamentary-related openings (paid and unpaid) e.g. in admin, research, campaigning. Also includes lots of guides to getting experience and making the most of it.
Civil Service Fast Stream– Graduate recruitment site for UK Civil Service. Details application process, sample aptitude tests and information on which ‘stream’ to apply for.
Civil Service Jobs- Site allows you to search for Civil Service jobs across the UK inc Prison Service
European Parliament– working with us section (jobs, careers, internships)
EU Careers– hosts career opportunities within the European Union
Financial Authority Conduct Careers– graduate programme details and profiles of participants and useful recruitment insight videos.
GCHQ– Details Departments and recruitment process.
Government Statistical Service– volunteering opportunities and current jobs.
Human Rights Watch- internships
Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrator– trains and represents governance professionals across all sectors.
M15– careers section available on this website that details opportunities available. Online test examples included.
M16- careers section. Latest vacancies and eligibility information included.
National Audit Office– information on what they do and working for and with NAO
National Graduate Development Programme- Local Government – England & Wales focus.
National Offender Management Service– Details of NOMS Graduate programme
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)– internships offered
Opportunities- Search for local authority jobs.
Prospects- job profiles– Public Services & Administration, Law Enforcement & Security
International organisations websites
British Council– internships
Commonwealth– Young Professionals Programme
Council of Europe- Traineeships
Ethical Careers Online- jobs and internships
UN Careers Portal– Job opening and general information
United Nations Development Programme jobs and internship opportunities.
UN High Commission for Refugees– internships in UK UN when required.
UN Internship Programme- Internship information and career paths.
UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe– Employment and internship opportunities.
UN Volunteer Programme– connects development organisations and volunteers
Politics jobs websites
PoliticsHome- Website run by Dods Parliamentary Communications. Provides breaking news & opinion, directory of MPs, useful links & press releases live from Westminster
Policy Jobs- job listings website specialising in public policy jobs. Research, policy making, and academic jobs in many fields including: foreign policy, economics, social policy, family policy, legal affairs and fiscal policy. Some job vacancies (UK and worldwide) can be browsed without subscribing.
Political Jobs- sister site to the above; same restrictions apply to searching UK/international jobs. Good for posts such as: parliamentary researcher; advocacy officer; constituency organiser; policy adviser etc.
Prospects job profile- Politicians Assistant
Public relations, public affairs and lobbying job websites
Public Affairs Links- includes public affairs and lobbying careers information. There is a directory of key public affairs firms internationally, key headhunters & recruitment firms and a vacancies board.
Association of Professional Political Consultants- directory of member firms active in public affairs consultancy.
Chartered Institute of Public Relations– information on careers advice, membership and training.
Social Research Association-'Careers in research' section and job alert facility
Government Social Research Service (GSR)- provides evidence to understand, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate government policies and services. They employ social researchers in all the main government departments as well as the devolved administrations and other government bodies. See their website for useful detail about careers and the application process
LARIA- Local Authorities Research & Intelligence Association- some vacancies
Prospects profile- Social Researcher
In Schools:A recognised teaching qualification is essential to find work in this area. The Department of Education Northern Ireland has general details about Initial Teacher Education (which includes the PGCE). The Universities and Colleges offering the training also have information on their websites which include how to apply and the closing dates e.g. Queen’s Initial Teacher Education (PGCE) information. See Applying for PGCE Teacher Training to find out about applying in other parts of the UK and in Ireland.
PGCE courses are competitive to get into so interested students are recommended to:
- Gain experience of working with young people of the age group you hope to teach – usually gained through voluntary work.
- Get an insight into what work as a teacher is like by trying to arrange to speak to a teacher to ask them about their job, and/or try to get some classroom observation experience. You may be able to arrange visits through personal contacts or with schools where you were once a pupil. It may be possible to arrange with a local school via a speculative application.
- Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Education via the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian’s Education section.
- Apply early.
- These interview tips are useful when preparing for the course interview.
The Teach First Leadership Development Programme recruits high achieving graduates to work as teachers in some of the most disadvantaged schools in England and Wales. Its 2 year programme combines this work with business skills training, internship and mentoring opportunities. At the end of the programme around 50% stay in the teaching profession in a leadership position, the other 50% are readily employed in a variety of business areas.
The TET (Teach English in Thailand) programme offers students and recent graduates a 9 week placement opportunity as a Teaching Assistant in Thailand.
In Colleges: Further Education Colleges will sometimes hire people to teach without them having teaching qualifications. These teachers will often be expected to work towards a teaching qualification and will be expected to have other relevant (vocational) qualifications and experience to offer. Colleges list job vacancies on their own websites. You can find a list of colleges on the Department of Education Northern Ireland website.
In Higher Education: University lecturers will normally be expected to have or be working towards a PhD. An Academic Career provides more information about this career route. Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.