Applying to graduate programmes: hints and tips from a current grad

Centrica_GraduatesIt’s been over a year since I joined the Marketing graduate programme at Centrica and I’m still surprised by how fast time has flown by. It’s amazing how much you can learn in the short span of a year! I’m currently in my second rotation where I’m working within Brand on an educational programme for children run by British Gas. It’s an extremely exciting role with varied projects and responsibilities – all offering the opportunity to strengthen my marketing skill set and broaden my network. 

My current role is quite a departure from my previous placement where I was working on our Services Retention team in Glasgow. Candidates are often surprised by the breadth of roles we have at British Gas, from analytical placements within commercial to more creative roles in advertising. Personally, I’ve loved being on a graduate programme as I’ve found it to be the perfect transition from university to the workplace. As a graduate, you’re given plenty of responsibility and opportunities to grow whilst having the freedom to make mistakes.

Having been on both sides of the interview table, I thought I would share a few tips from my own experiences facilitating graduate assessment centres:

  1. Spend plenty of time researching different industries and career paths. With the stiff competition for graduate programmes, it can be tempting to apply to as many companies as possible in an attempt to hedge your bets. Take the time to study different sectors and discover what really ignites your passion. Assessors will be looking for candidates that are extremely enthusiastic about the opportunities on offer and you’d be surprised how easy it is to spot an insincere applicant.
  2. Speak to current graduates for an insight into the company culture. As social media becomes an increasingly important tool in graduate recruitment, many employers are utilising their existing talent to share valuable insights into their programmes. Utilise these social media channels to gather information and engage with current employees.
  3. Apply for summer internships – it’s the perfect opportunity to test the waters without committing two years of your life to an industry that might not be for you. It wasn’t until I completed a summer internship at Centrica that I was convinced marketing was the perfect career for me. Summer internships can be equally competitive but you’ll find the experience a great way to decide whether a particular industry or company is for you. In the event that it’s not, you’ll save yourself wasted time in the future, expand your professional network and have solid work experience to add to your CV.

Graduate programmes aren’t the only route to a successful career so it’s important to have an open mind when job hunting. I’ve loved the ability to rotate across different business areas and locations but geographical flexibility might not be possible for everyone. If you decide that a graduate programme isn’t for you, there are plenty of untapped opportunities in growing start-ups and SMEs.

For anyone interested in applying to Centrica, our marketing stream is open for applications until Monday 6th January but I would recommend applying as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. I’m always happy to answer any questions so feel free to drop me a comment below or follow me on Twitter for an insight into life on the programme.

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