9 Tips for Implementing a Successful Graduate Scheme

With less than two weeks left until the application deadline for our award winning graduate scheme, we took the time to reflect on what makes a successful graduate scheme. Hopefully these tips can give you a flavour for what your experience of being a NineStarter would be or give you some inspiration to reinvigorate your own graduate scheme.

  1. Don’t assume – It’s a misconception that graduates are only interested in London and multi-national corporations. Graduate schemes aren’t just for the big companies – when Nine Feet Tall created NineStart, there were less than 15 employees at the company. In the same way a product needs a unique selling point, a graduate scheme will need something to distinguish it from the hundreds of others available to students.
  2. Never underestimate the importance of the selection process – any new recruit will come with their associated risks; you can never guarantee a smooth integration. But with a selection process that is adapted to your organisation’s needs, you find out what makes your graduates tick, you’ll reduce the hiring risk and see the long-term cost benefits of not having to replace them.
  3. Give your graduates some responsibility – coming out of University with the bit between their teeth, graduates can bring a refreshing approach to work. Give them some flexibility by allowing them to have a say in their development: what do they want to learn about? What skills would they like to develop? Providing it aligns to your company strategy, let them take charge.
  4. Strike a balance between teaching and telling – this is easier said than done; it’s personal to each graduate and so your graduate scheme should build in some flexibility. In the same way you’d consult your stakeholders before building a new IT solution, you should talk to your graduates about the expectations of the graduate scheme from their side.
  5. Allow stupid questions – whilst graduates will be eager to get stuck in and apply themselves, the world of work can, at times, appear daunting – especially given its contrast with the preceding years of University. In their keenness to impress, a graduate may feel reluctant to admit this so ensure they’ve got an avenue to voice concerns or ask a stupid question. One solution to this to could be to assign them a buddy who’s already trodden the path they are embarking on.
  6. Utilise your existing team – encourage your employees to approach your graduates, give them a friendly sounding board and treat them to a coffee. A new recruit will feel much more integrated into their new surroundings if they feel accepted by the team. It can also add some fresh impetus to your current team – perhaps your new graduate(s) will have some ideas you’ve overlooked?
  7. Have a long-term vision – if you’ve employed the right person, it’s likely they’ll have one eye on the future. They’ll want to know where they could be in 3/5/10 years’ time, so have your answers ready. There doesn’t need to be a minute-by-minute plan, but if you want your graduates to be future business leaders, give them a framework of core competencies they need to work towards. As a graduate, it’s a real motivator to know a company sees you as part of their long-term future.
  8. Evaluate what’s gone before and apply what you’ve learnt – you’ll no doubt expect your graduates to absorb feedback and apply what they learn and you should do the same. A graduate scheme shouldn’t stand still; it should evolve based on the experiences of those who’ve been through the scheme previously. It’s also engaging for those previous incumbents to shape the development of their successors.
  9. And finally…have some fun! – there’s a saying in life: ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ and it’s a good one to bear in mind. Plan some after-work drinks to celebrate the new arrivals and make it a regular date in the diary. It’s something the whole team can benefit from, too.

If you want to apply for this year’s intake then head on over to the following link and apply by 19th February: http://www.ninefeettall.com/careers/entry-level/.

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