Case study

Graduate trainee — Kelly Rigg

Kelly has worked in a range of administration roles as a trainee on her university's graduate scheme. She hopes to use her experience to train as a careers adviser

How did you get your job?

I studied for a BA Hons in primary English education with qualified teacher status (QTS) at Edge Hill University, which gave me the opportunity to apply for their university graduate trainee scheme as soon as I'd graduated.

To get the job as a graduate trainee, I had to undertake an online personality test and attend an assessment centre with 29 other shortlisted candidates. Once I'd made the final 8, I was invited to a formal interview where I also delivered a 15-minute presentation.

As a recent graduate, this was quite a shock as it was a process I'd never experienced before. The university careers team helped me prepare for each step of the application process, which gave me a massive advantage.

What's the graduate trainee scheme like?

The scheme is completed over two years and consists of four administrative work placements across the institution. These can take place almost anywhere, for example within a faculty, student support team, research office or facilities management office. By the end of the graduate scheme, I will have gained a well-rounded knowledge of administration within higher education.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with lots of different teams of people. One of my projects was cross-departmental, which allowed me to collaborate with colleagues from across the university, making contacts and learning about all the different roles that people fulfil.

What do you find challenging?

The challenge comes when it's time for me to move to my next work placement, where I effectively have to learn a new role again from scratch. It's exciting, but it's hard work too.

How relevant was your degree?

Most graduate schemes require you to have a 2:1 or higher in any discipline. While my degree subject wasn't relevant, it was important that I'd achieved this in order to be eligible for the scheme.

What are your career ambitions?

I'm currently coming to the end of my final placement within the careers centre at Edge Hill, and my ambition is to remain in higher education and hopefully undertake the relevant training to become a careers adviser.

What are your tips for others interested in university administration?

  • Make use of your university careers service. They can tell you all you ever need to know about what to expect at an interview, how to perform well in an assessment centre, and how to stand out amongst hundreds of other graduates.
  • Don't assume that because you didn't study somewhere, you can't apply for their scheme – a lot of university graduate schemes are open to graduates from any UK university.
  • Do your research and show the interviewers that you're invested in the university and its values, and that these values fit with your own. Every university is different and it's important that you can show you understand this.

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