So you’ve invested a fortune in your graduate recruitment programme. You’ve used a graduate sourcing company to recruit those grads that are really interested in your industry and are raring to go. But how do you counteract the 1 in 4 graduates that will leave a graduate programme before it’s complete? How do you ensure that they stay engaged for the entirety?

We asked a recent graduate scheme employee for some top tips on how to keep graduates engaged and in it for the long run.

What is the best part of your graduate scheme?

Rotations – going around all of the branches and departments of the organisation. I have also enjoyed doing presentations in front of board of directors. It’s nerve wracking but a useful skill to have in the future. I’ve been exposed to project management and have been encouraged by my colleagues to take on larger tasks. Within the company, there are a number of great options for training courses, from personal development to business courses. One thing I have experienced a lot of is the option of travel, its great graduates have all these opportunities.

What part of your graduate scheme would you say needed improvement?

I would say wage structure firstly. There wasn’t any clear increase throughout the scheme and the wages were lower than what other company schemes.

I would also say to provide structure to give future insights – there was no clear after plan for graduates, and with some uncertainty in industry, a clear plan would help envision a career within the company and the objectives to reach that goal. I would have also like to be involved in more real projects on the scheme.

One other thing I found unclear was levels of seniority at the end of graduate scheme that were agreed to graduates. There were  minimal senior roles in the areas of the businesses in which we preferred. To counteract this I would say to match degree and flexibility to explore preferred areas of the business.

What would you encourage employees to do more of in the schemes?

I would expose people on the schemes to more management experience – perhaps on a part time basis. I would also try to tailor the graduate schemes around skill sets and then decide on rotation around the business on this basis, and encourage more exposure to customers and pressured situations to equip us with relationship development and crisis management skills for future careers.

What part of the scheme switched you off?

For me, it was having to do some of the aspects of head office placement. Whilst good to know, my placements were too long in parts of the business that were outside of my interest and skill sets.

There was also an element of making graduates do projects and jobs that normal staff didn’t want to do. There was a sense of using graduates on placements in varying departments to pick up on some of the undesirable activities. There is always an expectation of this going into a business at entry level, however, the departments didn’t seem well prepped for a graduates arrival.

What did you feel about your future in the company whilst going through the grad scheme?

I was worried about job security – what was going to happen when the scheme ended? Uncertain industries and business changes did make you feel nervous at times. I would say, on the whole, the company did look after grads.

If I was to do my own grad scheme

I’d start them for 3 months in the heart of the business then 3 months in office manager/admin roles. I would then encourage graduates to spend a month in their chosen area whilst continuously reviewing them to scope what they really wanted to do.

I would tailor the final year of the grad scheme around what your graduates want to do post the graduate scheme whilst continuing the full business experience.