IT graduate schemes are a great way to break into your chosen career.
Well, the good news is the number of entry-level vacancies and placements on offer this year is expected to rise by nearly 12%, according to market research company, High Fliers. And the bad news? You’re likely to be competing for places with graduates from the past two years who are still unemployed.
As we emerge from recession, IT jobs are showing signs of picking up, with large IT firms like Google, Microsoft, Logica, Intel, Fujitsu, EDS, Oracle and IBM all currently recruiting IT graduates.
You’ll also find large IT departments – and their associated graduate schemes in many non-technical organisations too, including the government, the NHS, banking and finance, supermarkets and large multinational corporations.
Working for a large multinational has many advantages like good pay and benefits, the chance to relocate abroad and, usually, a defined career path. The public sector offers a less pressured environment and job satisfaction, with the knowledge that you’re helping others through your work.
But the traditional view that roles in the public sector bring job security is being eroded by the economy’s continuing struggle, which brings with it cuts in public sector spending.
A placement within an IT department will give you a real taste of the world of work. Most are paid (many quite well) and can vary from short placements of several months to positions that last four or five years.
The pros and cons of graduate placement schemes
• Better salary and benefits than typical junior jobs
• Strong emphasis on training and development
• Financial support for those with professional qualifications in some cases
• Potential for an accelerated career path into management
• Opportunity to build transferable skills
• Breathing space to learn from your mistakes without getting sacked!
• Fierce competition for places
• Potential disruption to personal life because of pressure to work long hours and relocate and /or travel
• Work in early years may be fairly routine
• Hard to build good relationships with other employees if you move departments frequently
• Being given a hard time by some managers.
No individual placement will tick all the boxes, so don’t set your expectations too high. Companies expect a high return for their investment, so you’ll have to work hard to prove yourself; it’s likely you won’t be welcomed with open arms by many other employees.
One big advantage to placement schemes is that they’re not permanent. If you realise you made the wrong career choice, you can leave the scheme (check your contact for notice periods).
If you do decide to go for it, you’re likely to end up going through a gruelling recruitment process.
Initially you‘ll fill in an application form that asks why you want to work for this particular company. The form poses various situational questions designed to test your aptitudes, like team working or self motivation.
You’ll probably have an interview, followed by an assessment day, during which you’ll go through a series of exercises, simulations and interviews that show how you cope in different situations. The day will probably include a mix of traditional interviews, psychometric testing, presentations, group exercises and social events.
The key to success here is to relax and just be yourself. The day will be stressful enough without having to maintain a façade. You can prepare by thinking about these scenarios:
• Work on your presentation style, learning to look at people directly while you talk, making eye contact with everyone in the room and avoiding the use of notes.
• Avoid the free drinks at the social events!
• Remain confident without going over the top or appearing arrogant.
• During a group exercise, an assessor will be looking at what you have to contribute as well as how you worked in a team. Make sure you don’t talk over others and involve the whole team in discussions.
With over 9,000 vacancies from over 650 employers to browse, there’s a huge variety of IT jobs on offer with CWJobs. You can upload your CV today and let employers contact you directly, and you can request a tailored jobs by email sent straight to your inbox.
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