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In 2017 414,340 UK and EU students graduated from university whilst 19,133 of them were employed into graduates schemes by the top 100 UK employers. As there’s even more competition from those who graduated a year or two before this, it’s stiff competition, so don’t beat yourself up about the fact that you didn’t gain a place. 

If you’ve failed to get onto a grad scheme, there are plenty more options, and you don’t have to scale back your career ambitions. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

You can still apply

There are a number of graduate schemes that you can apply for all year round. These include:

  • American Express
  • Apple
  • Asda
  • BAE Systems
  • British Airways
  • Coca-Cola
  • Deloitte
  • Google
  • Royal Mail
  • Unilever

Whilst most grad schemes are available for ‘recent graduates’ meaning that you can apply in the following couple of years post graduation. 

Grad schemes are not the only way to the top

Everyone at uni and post uni go on about grad schemes as though they are the most important factor in your career, however they are not the only way of moving forward in a career. Once you are in a position and industry you enjoy and can see yourself grow, it’s up to you to make sure that you put yourself out there to gain top experiences, learn as much as you can, and connect with people that will be useful to your career. 

It doesn’t necessarily work out for those in grad schemes

You may have landed the most CV impressive grad scheme in the country, but what happens after a few months in when you realise the career isn’t for you and you are going to be wasting two years of your life? As a graduate on a programme, you will have signed up for a lock-in clause meaning that you will be offered training and opportunities over a number of years. However if you terminate the contract within this time frame, you will be liable to pay back the training which will amount to thousands of pounds. 

Maybe it wasn’t for you

As we tend to see potential in candidates that look like ourselves, it may be that graduate schemes end up with certain cultures. If you’ve failed to gain a place at a grad scheme, you might well have not felt as though you fit in anyway with the company culture and there will be a better place out there for you!

SMEs are great

Although graduate schemes boast thorough and impressive training programmes alongside day-to-day responsibilities, SMEs offer graduates the ability to get their hands dirty straight away and make an impact. They might have more of a say in how the business is run as there’s no lengthly process to make changes - only good ideas are needed! And they also have more fluid roles within their business - by doing a bit of e.g. marketing, HR and PR you can find out which one you like the most so that when if comes for applying for another role you can formalise your career path and have the work experience to back it up.

What can you do instead of a graduate scheme?

You do need to keep telling yourself that there are other opportunities out there for you. But remember to think about what you want from a career and where you want to go with it. With this in mind, you could have a gap year and gain some crucial volunteering experience, find an entry-level job, go back to uni or undertake an internship or other work experience. 

 If you have your heart set on a grad scheme you can still reapply over the next couple of years, this time with more focus and more work experience hopefully leading to a positive result. Good luck!