Perspectives on the graduate recruitment process


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We asked people about the various routes they took into the world of work after graduating. Here's what they had to say

The student

Abiola Adelabu, accounting and finance first-year student at Lancaster UniversityThe student

“My main goal is to work in the financial sector when I graduate as it’s a sector I’m interested in. Becoming an entrepreneur or freelancer are also paths I’d consider as I’m passionate about travel, and I think these options would give me more control over my time and where I work. But I do think starting up a whole new business is much harder than it seems. Work/life balance is definitely something I care about. But if I enjoy what I do then I don’t think it will feel like work or that I’ll worry about this balance.”

The traditional grad schemer

Catherine Taylor, group people director at Marston’s

“Doing a placement year during my degree allowed me to explore the world of work, find out what I did and didn’t enjoy, and understand what I wanted to do when I graduated – for me this was a graduate scheme. I joined Unilever’s scheme, which aims to fast-track people into management and it totally delivered. I was given a breadth of business insight, theoretical learning and line mnagers who helped me to develop. It was also flexible, allowing me to change placements when an opportunity arose. For me, getting onto the best graduate scheme I could was well worth it – every piece of work was an opportunity to learn.”

The university to start-up grad

Jordan Daniel, lead motion graphics designer at Affari

“After graduating in 2012 with a degree in computer games design I decided to travel, working my way around southeast Asia, Australia and Japan. While travelling I discovered a passion for photography and creating graphics and realised games design wasn’t for me. When I returned to the UK I pursued my new-found passion for graphic design. I knew I wanted to work somewhere small; I wanted each day to feel like I was contributing to something greater, and felt that if I joined a large firm my voice could be lost. Affari was looking for a freelance digital designer for a fast turnaround project. I freelanced for two weeks and was offered a permanent position. I then identified a gap in the capabilities of animation and motion graphics and transitioned into a new role around this. Three years and hundreds of projects later, I now lead Affari’s in-house motion team.”

The grad to intern

Sally Bracegirdle, head of student engagement at GradTouch

“Graduating was, for me, a turbulent time. After a last-minute U-turn on my plan to become a teacher, I entered graduate life with a 2:1 in French studies, with experience in a career I no longer wanted and, like most students, unrealistically high expectations. I started as an intern at GradTouch; now I’m head of a department. It’s not the job I expected to get but it’s endlessly rewarding. There’s a lot of misunderstanding around what a ‘graduate job’ is. I speak to students every day who are disheartened to find they need more than a degree to get a well-paid, highly-skilled role straight out of university. Some have to start at the bottom, in an internship or a graduate scheme, to get experience first before climbing the ladder.”

The unconventional grad schemer

Oliver Simons, tax associate at Grant Thornton

“Before my final university year I was on the border between a 2:1and 2:2. To have the best chance of getting a 2:1 I decided to put off applying to graduate schemes until after graduation, rather than spend time on the lengthy application processes. Despite this, I graduated with a 2:2 and worried this would discount me from schemes. But I discovered that Grant Thornton had removed the traditional requirement for a 2:1 from its graduate roles and so applied for an innovation tax graduate role. In the application process I was judged on my performance not my degree and was offered the job. Grant Thornton has provided both internal training and external professional qualifications; I’m currently studying for my final ACA exams.”

Further reading

The changing face of grad recruitment

Top graduate recruiters: the inside track

The Graduate Survey: exclusive results

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