Laura Pickett: Top tips for applying for a graduate scheme

Guest blog post from Laura Pickett, third-year Geography student who has recently gained a place on a graduate scheme at FCC Environment. 

  1. Apply early! Most graduate applications open in October/November time and a lot close just after Christmas. Using websites like ‘Prospects’ are great but remember not all companies will advertise there.
  2. Apply for as many graduate schemes as possible! It goes without saying that the more you apply for, the more likely you are to be successful.
  3. Be prepared for anything! I did so many maths and English competency tests and they were hard! Most graduates haven’t studied maths or English since GCSE so it’s going to be a little tricky, don’t worry. Even at the interviews themselves it’s going to be new and they’re going to throw things at you which will be out of your comfort zone, but just take that in your stride.
  4. Video interviews are strange! They’re used a lot by companies to select graduates to take to the next interview stage. There is no face on the other side of screen so you just have to stare at yourself and answer questions about why they should pick you. There are usually 30 seconds to plan your answer and then a minute to record your answer, just remain calm.
  5. Be patient! There are thousands of people who apply for these graduate schemes so be patient when waiting for a reply. Unfortunately, a lot of people never actually got back to me to say I hadn’t been successful, which is frustrating but is common across the board when applying for jobs.
  6. Read up on the company! It sounds obvious but so many people take it for granted. Knowing some simple facts really can impress the people who are interviewing you.
  7. Be confident! Confidence is a key quality that employers look for. It’s common to be asked to do presentations during an interview. It’s important for potential employers to see how you present yourself and how well you can speak under pressure.
  8. Have fun! I travelled to Northampton for 2 days for an intense interview process but it was genuinely one of the most fun things I’ve ever taken part in. I met so many people who were in the same boat and were just as nervous and that made it so much better. We did so many tasks as a group and individually and it was 2 days I will never forget.
  9. Use Careers and your PAT for help! They’re both aspects of university life we take for granted, but they know what they’re doing and they’re useful. Careers helped me prepare for the applicant days and interviews by giving me advice and my PAT helped me to write personal statements and gave me confidence to apply for jobs I thought were way out of my reach.

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If, like Laura, you’re about to finish university, go out there and smash graduate life! If you’d like to share your story to inspire current students, please email us at


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