Interviews

Graduate Schemes, Placements & Internships

Kirsty Turbott

Throughout this week we have been focusing on graduate schemes, placements and internships. As part of this, we had the pleasure of talking to three young women, all of whom have completed one of the aforementioned, and are subsequently leading successful careers. Frances, a History graduate currently living in London, talks about her summer internship and how she extended that into a place on Deloitte’s graduate scheme; Thea (who we have previously interviewed about her time at L’Oreal) spoke to us specifically about the life of an intern; and Chessie, also a recent graduate, tells us about the jump from education to working full time as a graduate at Dalcour Maclaren.

Frances, 21, is a recent History graduate from King’s College London. She worked at Deloitte as an intern in the summer before her final year, and was offered a place on their prestigious graduate scheme as a result. 

How did you find your internship? 

I mainly used Google, in particular websites like Prospects.

What advice would you give to someone who is applying for an internship? 

Apply to lots of schemes and apply early when they open. Many of them operate on a rolling basis so if they have already filled the roles they will stop applications. Also make sure you research the company. Often there will be assessments including situation tests where they will try to see if you would be a good fit for them and knowing what values the company prioritises will be useful.

How did you successfully secure the graduate scheme position as a result of your internship?

I had a values-based interview at the end of the internship with my scheme’s partner. I also had to give a presentation and get the people I had worked with to fill out feedback forms. The interview is important but it is likely they will already have an idea of whether they want to hire you based on your previous weeks’ work. To me what was most important was showing interest and being involved in as many people’s projects and creating a list of tangible things you have contributed that you can show. For example specific pieces of research or meetings you were involved with. But also just try to show you are a good fit for the team and take any opportunities to socialise with your colleagues, most will be happy to grab coffee and have a chat!

Thea, also 21, is in her final year at Oxford Brookes University studying Business and Psychology. After her second year, Thea took a placement year where she worked at L’Oreal Paris in their offices in London. 

How did you find your placement year? 

I found the loreal placement on rate my placement. It’s a really great site to use as you can see previous placement students’ reviews of their year which is a great way to decide what’s right for you.  

What advice would you give someone applying for a placement year? 

Take time to understand what you’re looking for. Although it may seem like it’s a huge rush to find a placement there is always time and it’s a year of your life so you want to make sure it’s the right one for you. 

I think it’s important to think about the location and the company size too. A placement in a rural office will be very different to a placement in a city. The experience is about understanding what you want to pursue in the future so that includes what sort of life you want to lead.

What is the most important thing you believe learnt or took away from your placement year?

It’s really hard to pinpoint one thing but I think a huge takeaway from my placement was to trust myself and my opinions more and not be afraid to share them because people really do want to hear them. It’s easy to forget that the company invests a huge amount in you in one year and so it’s in their best interest to help you grow and understand what you have to offer for future possibilities.

Chessie, 21, is a recent graduate from Cirencester Royal Agricultural College where she studied Rural Land Management. She is currently working as a graduate at Dalcour Maclaren. 

How did you find your Graduate Scheme?

I found my graduate job from attended job fairs and lectures that were held by my University. I found it very helpful to go to these as there were always a variety of companies to look at and I was able to talk to their employees, giving me an initial feel of the company. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to do a graduate scheme?

My advice for prospective graduates looking for a Graduate Scheme, is to apply for everything and anything that takes your fancy. You never know what a company is like until you meet them in person. Also, remember that the interview process is not just for the company, but it is also an opportunity for you to gauge whether you think you will work well with them or not. Graduate schemes are an incredible foundation to get to the job of your dreams, so it is important for you to find the right fit. 

How have you found the jump from education to full time employment?

My jump from education to ‘the real world’ was much shorter than first anticipated. Due to COVID-19 my company requested that I started sooner than initially agreed, as business was booming and they needed to bring in extra people to take on the workload. I did find there to be a massive difference, however, with added workload and a bigger focus independent management and organisation, compared to University. This jump was made far easier with the help of friendly co-workers who supported me through the transition and proved to be invaluable.

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