Graduate schemes aren’t just for fourth years. Yes, you might not be able to apply yet if you’re in second or third year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your while doing some good, old-fashioned research now. And if you’re a fourth year still stuck about your future, have a look at some of these. Much gets written about the big schemes (see Aldi, PWC, Teach First, Accenture, the Civil Service), but there are far more out there that don’t get nearly as much coverage, yet are just as re- warding and interesting. Here is our pick of the best:

National Graduate Development Programme

No clues in the somewhat anodyne title, but this is a stellar scheme that trains you for a career in local government, and provides ‘high-calibre’ managers for communities. Local government is also the largest employer in England, with 1.2 million staff. The scheme lasts for two years, during which you complete various placements in areas such as human resources, finance, customer service and corporate functions. This is a good alternative to the Civil Service if you are interested in a job in the public sector. Additionally, it is a very flexible programme, offering you the chance to work across England. The salary for the 2014 in- take is £23,188 p.a., with a London weighting if applicable.

Frontline

Frontline is social work’s answer to Teach First. It is brand new; the 2014 cohort will be the first, and is therefore a truly exciting and innovative career choice. Established by a former Manchester teacher who was concerned by levels of inequality, it aims to recruit highly skilled workers into the social work sector, something it has struggled with in the past.The scheme lasts for two years, after which you will be a fully qualified social worker with a Masters degree. Similarly to Teach First, the programme begins with a five-week Summer Institute, during which you will receive practical training. In your first year, you embark on an intensive training course, for which you will be paid £19,000 p.a. In the second year, after you are fully qualified, the salary rises to £24,000 p.a. Currently London and Manchester are the only locations available.

TK Maxx

TJX Europe (as the group is known) is ‘the world’s leading off-price retailer’, and has 350 stores across Europe. They have opportunities in five areas of the business: merchandising and buying, business technology, finance, logistics, and distribution. The graduate starting salary in the UK is £24,000 p.a., and the head office, where you would be based, is in Watford, just outside London. There are also opportunities to work in their office in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a charity that funds research into human and animal health, with an endowment of £14.5bn. It states on the website that there are graduate positions available in three areas, all of which are two year programmes; Funding and Policy, Finance and Investments, and Engagement and Communications. The programmes consist of four six-month rotations, which include Science Funding, Technology Transfer, and Communications. For the Funding and Policy stream, you will need to have studied a science subject to at least A-Level standard. The salary is £25,000 p.a. and the job is based in London.

Metropolitan Police

Joining the police service is a huge commitment, but could lead you into a very rewarding and varied career. The Graduate Development Programme lasts for three years, during which you are exposed to ‘the full range of police service delivery’. If you impress, you can earn a place on the accelerated programme, which is designed to ‘produce the leaders of tomorrow’. The application process is complex and long, but if you are dedicated to a career in the police, this may be the best way to get into it. It is also the only scheme on his list to allow you to apply with a 2:2. The job is based in London, and starting salary is £22,000 p.a., plus a £6,500 London weighting.

IntoUniversity

IntoUniversity is a charity that aims to address educational inequality and provides support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, through centres across England. Their graduate scheme is a three-month training programme, during which you undertake classroom-based training and practical workshops. To apply, you need some form of paid or voluntary work with children or young people. The centres are based in London, Nottingham and Bristol, and the starting salary in 2013 (no information was available on their website for 2014) was £19,280 p.a..

British Sugar

British Sugar is the sole producer of British beet sugar, and also produces about half of the UK’s overall quota of sugar. They run a well-respected graduate scheme, with streams in Science, Agriculture, Business & Procurement, and Finance. To apply for the Science stream, you will need a degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry, and for Agriculture, you will need a degree in Biology or Biological Sciences. Business & Procurement, which has less specific degree requirements, is a two- year scheme, with four six-month rotations, offering an opportunity to work in all areas of the business, including Commercial, Procurement, Customer Delivery and Product Manufacture. All the streams offer mentors, buddies and line managers for graduates. The head office is in Peterborough, but some of the Science roles are based in the East of England (Norwich, Bury St Edmunds and Newark). The Science starting salary is £27,500 p.a. plus a £1,500 joining bonus. For Business & Procurement, the starting salary is £25,000 p.a. plus a £1,500 joining bonus.

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