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Finding Advertised Opportunities | The Careers Service Finding Advertised Opportunities – Oxford University Careers Service
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Graduate schemes

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 and IT)

They are least common in sectors dominated by small organisations – such as charities, museums and publishing.

Where to search

You can find out information about graduate schemes using:

  • Publications such as The Guardian 300 or The Times 100 (free hard copies available at The Careers Service).
  • Our Career Fairs, particularly those in Michaelmas term.
  • The Oxford Guide to Careers, which includes listings of many graduate schemes.
  • The sector overviews on our website include links to job boards and graduate opportunities in the “External Resources” section for each sector.
  • Employer presentations – these are advertised on CareerConnect, and the majority take place during Michaelmas term.
  • The websites of individual organisations.

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 November and 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 earlier – July – October. The Careers Service holds a ‘Get a Head-Start’ Fair in Trinity term for penultimate year students looking at making early applications.

Get in earlier if you can

The 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.

Graduate jobs (stand-alone roles)

The majority of graduate-level jobs do not take the form of graduate schemes. Instead, they are specific positions within an organisation, and can be found in all sectors.

Even organisations that have graduate schemes may advertise graduate-level positions outside of their graduate schemes.

Where to search

Online job boards

Almost all graduate-level jobs that don’t fall in graduate schemes will be advertised in online job boards. For example:

  • CareerConnect – our vacancy database, just for Oxford students, alumni and research staff.
  • National jobs boards aimed at graduates, such as Prospects and TARGETjobs, Joblift and Adzuna or apps such as Debut.
  • Sites for specific sectors, such as (for jobs in universities), W4MP (for the public and third sectors).
  • Use the relevant sector pages of our website for detailed job hunting tips
  • National newspapers often have job databases on their websites.
  • The websites of individual organisations of interest.

Career Fairs

Some of the organisations that attend our career fairs are recruiting for specific positions, rather than for graduate schemes. This is particularly common in Trinity Term.

When to search

Organisations normally recruit for non-graduate-scheme positions a few months before they need someone to start work – and positions are advertised year round. As such, students would be unlikely to find many suitable opportunities in the Michaelmas of their final year.

Academic & Research Vacancies


The most comprehensive resource for jobs in UK Higher Education institutes, with some international vacancies also posted, is The main US site is Higher Ed Jobs.

A new website, QS Academic International Mobility, lets you search for international positions and offers advice on building your academic career abroad.

More international vacancy search sites are included in our webpage about Post-DPhil Options.

Academic vacancies can also be found in the Times Higher Education Supplement*, and science research jobs in HE, industry and government are advertised in Nature and New Scientist*.  *If you would like to read hard copies of these magazines, you will find them in the Careers Service reception.

Funding Opportunities

  • Research Professional — Database of funding opportunities which the University subscribes to.
  • Funding for Early Career Researchers — Funding opportunities aimed particularly at postgraduate researchers and early-stage postdoctoral researchers.
  • Research Councils UK (RCUK) – Portal for all the UK Research Councils. Check for scholarships and awards.
  • Research Services — Information on research grant funding, consultancies and research-related policies (including intellectual property, conflict of interest and academic integrity in research).

See our Finding Work Experience page for information on finding internships.


Video: How do you get your dream job?

Careers adviser Jonathan Black tells you how to get the job you really want, are good at, and that pays the bills. Watch the Financial Times video here.

This information was last updated on 16 August 2018.
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