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Want to do something different? Our top alternatives to graduate programmes

22 Aug 2018

For whatever reason, you may not want to do a graduate programme. If that’s the case, here are the alternatives.

Many employers bring bright, young graduates into the fold via graduate programmes. These programmes are typically between one and two years long and are offered across all industries.

Graduate schemes are an excellent way to start your career. They allow you to build skills more directly applicable to the working world than what you learned in university.

These programmes are also a great way to make contacts and get your foot in the door at top organisations. Really, people don’t need to be sold on the concept, as evinced by their popularity.

But what if you don’t want to take part in one of these schemes? Is it a bad idea to eschew these programmes in favour of going in a different direction?

In many ways, the options available for graduates can seem quite narrow at the outset. It may seem like there aren’t a lot of other routes to career progression, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Consider the best option for you

Yvonne McLoughlin is head of careers services at Dublin City University (DCU). The number-one piece of advice she gives to graduates before they make any moves is to consider what is the most suitable step for them. There is no one pathway that is superior to another. “It’s an individual choice,” she explained.

“I would advise students to think about their skills, strengths, interests, experiences and motivations, and which sectors and organisations might be the best fit for them.

“Then, compare and contrast whether you want to apply for a graduate programme or an alternative route. Some pertinent questions to ask include: what is the size of the organisation, training offered and career progression.”

Start small

Graduate schemes are often offered by large organisations with thousands of employees. There are many benefits to joining an enterprise of this size, but don’t be afraid to set your sights on something smaller.

Applying to an SME can have many benefits, one being that you don’t have to deal with the lengthy application process required for graduate programmes. “[These routes] generally have a quicker turnaround time than for larger organisations,” McLoughlin added.

There are SMEs dotted all over the country, and there are advantages to them that you won’t be afforded in large companies. McLoughlin noted that “senior management may be more accessible” and you have the opportunity to gain more responsibility earlier on.

If your family or someone you know owns a business, you could also get a start there. Better yet, you could start your own company.

Travel the world

If it’s feasible, moving abroad has myriad benefits. For example, the experience of living in a new country is exciting, and having to settle into life away from the comforts of the familiar will broaden your horizons.

There may be more diverse opportunities for you in other countries, especially larger ones. You may even get the chance to learn a new language depending on where you end up.

Consider an apprenticeship

Being able to enter a graduate scheme is contingent on you being a graduate. Perhaps you started working straight after second-level education, or perhaps you left third level before completing your studies.

If any of the above applies to you, there are still schemes you can enter to learn skills directly applicable to the jobs market. Apprenticeships, for one, are becoming more popular and more diversified every day.

Continue your studies

Finally, who’s to say your education journey has to come to an end? You can always stay the course. You may have done your degree in something more general and wish to continue your studies so you can gain more concentrated skills.

You may also want to do a completely different subject at master’s level because your ambitions have changed.

There are even more options available than the ones outlined above. The point is to remember that no two success stories look the same. There is no one option more correct than another. The key is establishing what the best choice is for you and for your situation right now.

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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