The main sectors that offer general management roles are:
There are increasing opportunities for graduates who want to work in the public sector, the NHS, civil service, local government and the armed forces. The NHS Management Scheme aims to prepare graduates to work as a health service manager in finance, health informatics, HR or general management. The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) and the Civil Service Fast Stream are intended for graduates who want to work in UK national and local government.
Graduates interested in the military can apply to join The Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force at officer level – the management role within military.
Retail banking and insurance
Retail banking (also known as high street banking) is a good choice for those with managerial plans who would thrive in a fast-paced financial environment. Large retail banks, building societies and supermarkets offering financial services often run graduate schemes and many do not require a background in finance or a related degree programme.
The insurance sector is known for providing generalist graduate programmes, where typically you will be experiencing three or four rotations in different departments (e.g. risk management, underwriting and brokerage), gaining a broad understanding of the sector over a two-year period. At the end of the programme, you will then be able to specialise.
Retail and FMCG sector
This function and sector is experiencing increasing growth, especially online retailers and supermarkets in the current global climate. Going into this sector does not mean you will be shelf-stacking. Rather, you would be helping to manage budgets, international operations, secure supply chains, overseeing pricing and stock control and leading a team. Many global companies, such as Ocado, P&G, Unilever, Tesco and Lidl, run graduate leadership schemes.
Logistics and operations
As a graduate you will be involved in managing a multi-disciplinary team that will range from IT and stock control to distribution. Most opportunities are through a general management trainee scheme and then onto a management role in your preferred area (examples of these specialised areas may be in property, warehouse, distribution, etc.).
Hospitality and leisure
The hospitality and leisure industry is all about the consumer, so if you want a customer-facing management role that requires the ability to think quickly and decisively, then this sector may be for you. Many large hotel groups and hospitality focused companies run general graduate trainee schemes such as:
- Hilton Hotels and Resorts
- Marriott International (hotels)
- Merlin Entertainments (attractions such as Alton Towers and SEA LIFE)
- Whitbread (includes Costa Coffee and Premier Inn).
If you are considering hospitality and leisure you may also be thinking about management in the events sector. Event management companies that recruit graduates include:
- Clarion Events
- London Business Conferences
- Reed Exhibitions.
See here for more information and advice about event management.
If you are interested in this sector, getting physical experience during the Covid-19 crisis may be a challenge, however you can use this time to engage with virtual hospitality offerings (such as virtual escape rooms, parties, wine tasting and even careers fairs). It will be a good experience to see how agile and entrepreneurial organisations have adjusted to the crisis and how they respond to changing demands. You can approach organisations you like directly for experience or put together your own research project on a particular area of the market.
Where to find vacancies
Careers fairs are a major source of vacancies for those looking at general management. A key fair to attend is the Oxford Careers Fair in Michaelmas term, where you will be able to see a diverse range of recruiters and therefore be able to compare and contrast opportunities. Large international companies offering high-quality training schemes will generally have a high profile during Michaelmas term, with opportunities mostly filled before Easter. Some have deadlines as early as November.
The primary sources of job vacancies are targetjobs.co.uk, Milkround, CareerConnect, Prospects, The Times Top 100 and the UK 300.