The most prominent type of graduate jobs advertised around Oxford are graduate schemes: formal training programmes that typically mix early responsibility with training and support from mentors, and often give trainees an insight into various aspects of a business. Typically, graduate schemes are offered by large organisations which can predict their human resources needs well in advance, and can commit to an annual intake.
Which sectors have graduate schemes
Graduate schemes can be found in most sectors of the economy. However, they are most common in:
professions which require a professional qualification, gained through training (such as accountancy and law);
sectors dominated by large organisations (such as banking, consultancy, retail and consumer goods);
professions which require you to accumulate technical knowledge (such as engineering, energy and IT).
They are least common in sectors dominated by small organisations – such as charities, museums and TV (but some graduate schemes in these areas do exist!).
Where to search
You can find out information about graduate schemes using:
There can be a temptation, when applying to graduate schemes, to favour the well-known, well-advertised organisations. There can be advantages to starting your career working for a smaller firm, however: early responsibility is likely to be greater, and you are likely to get a more holistic understanding of the business.
When to search
One year ahead
Graduate schemes open up their application process as early as the summer before the scheme starts; sometimes closing in late October. Michaelmas is therefore particularly busy – with employers advertising their schemes via our fairs, presentations and other activities across Oxford. The ‘Milkround’, as this period of graduate recruitment is known, is busiest in the first few weeks of Michaelmas. Deadlines tend to be around late October/ early November and into December with a few falling after Christmas and into the early part of January.
Penultimate year summer
In some sectors, particularly in banking and consultancy, the application window is much earlier; for example, July – early October. The Careers Service holds a ‘Graduate Jobs and Internship Opportunities’ fair in Trinity term for penultimate year students looking at making early applications.
Get in earlier if you can
Larger organisations will sometimes indicate that they recruit on a ‘rolling basis’ – filling vacancies as they receive suitable applications – so early applications are often advantageous. Don’t leave it to the last minute!
Two years ahead?
Some companies, particularly ‘City’ sectors (law, finance and consultancy), actively use internships as an additional way to find graduate recruits.
As such, if you’re interested in working for a large City firm, it’s a good idea to try and get an internship in your penultimate year, and treat it like a summer-long job interview.