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Graduate schemes

Large companies within the creative industries will often run graduate schemes. Usually they'll invite a few graduates to join their agency for about a year. There is almost always a job opening at the end but not always enough for everyone on the graduate scheme so you need to work hard and impress people while you're there. Some graduate schemes are role specific and some allow you to rotate around departments. The following should help you decide if they are right for you and how you can stand out when applying.

Are graduate schemes for you?

The big hint in the title is that these schemes are for students who have graduated from university. (As with everything in the creative industries, nothing is set in stone but if you want to join a graduate scheme and you didn't go to university, you better have a damn impressive application.)

Your degree could be in any area. Graduate schemes are particularly useful and often targeted at those who haven’t studied a creative course. They'll help you understand how the industry works and what the various roles are in a large agency.

If that sounds like a good fit for you, then a graduate scheme could be the perfect option. If you already have a firm grasp on what you want to do, you may want to look at [internships] or graduate jobs instead. There's also a huge variety of smaller companies to work for who don't have a scheme in place.

Competition

There is usually an insane amount of competition for graduate schemes – a well known agency only has to send an inviting tweet to get hundreds of applications. Before you download the application form, make sure it's going to be worth your while too.

It's only worth applying if you want to work for the company, not because it's another application you might get something from, they'll smell a lack of commitment a mile off.

How will you know if you want to work there? Read their website, connect with people who work in that company, check out the work they have produced to get a sense of their personality or attend an event they are at. If you're able, try to visit the agency (some even have open days to allow you to get a feel for the place before you apply). Not only will it help you craft a much better application, you might even get to know them before they see your application (not a bad advantage to have).

If you think you’re a perfect match then really try and get that across in your application. If you don’t think you’re a good match then look elsewhere. Be efficient.

The application form

It's rarely a quick and easy process to send the application in. The company wants quality to come through and this takes dedication. It might be an online form, you may have to download something, the information they want will range from basic details to testing your creativity and ability to think laterally.

Remember throughout that good spelling and grammar are essential. Yes, everyone has been telling you this forever but given the number of applications, these guys are looking for a way to say no. Don't give them one.

When a question stumps you, don't bullshit. This industry can easily detect "I'm writing but not thinking and guessing or pretending" language. Research the questions, discuss it with friends or people in the industry, think about what they are asking you to do and demonstrate an understanding.

If you get the chance to, show off, this is a very personable industry. Tell interesting stories, unleash your personality, be creative.

There is a strong chance you'll see a question like these, “If you were a pizza, what would you be?” or “Which Pokemon would you choose?” or “How long is a piece of string?” Agencies love these quirky questions and, as with every other question, they are there to test you. They test your creative thinking as well as your personality. Be sure to give an original response that people will enjoy.

Once you're happy, get it proof read by someone else and sleep on it. Polish it up the next day and send it. It's important to do this as quickly as you can, applications get read as and when they come through so you don't want to be lost in the pile of the last minute crew.

One last step if you can. Go the extra mile. You've beaten the ones who didn't find the opportunity and the ones who couldn't be bothered to apply. You've surpassed the requirements and put everything into your beautiful application but now it's time to go one step further than everyone else. Why not answer a question with a video? Produce something alongside the standard application? Could you send it as part of a package? Arrange to drop it off yourself? This bit's up to you, be creative, do what they could justify paying you to do.

Follow up

Stick the deadlines for hearing back in your calendar. If you haven't heard anything, give the company a call or drop them an email. If you didn't get through, some feedback will really help your next application.

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