Marketing graduate schemes

Daniel Higginbotham, Editor
October, 2016

If you're after a structured role at a leading employer, with chances for rapid career progression, then a marketing graduate scheme is worth consideration

A top graduate scheme can provide the training and support you require to develop your skills, take responsibility for your decisions, come up with new and innovative ideas, and learn from others.

Specific marketing programmes will give you an insight into the marketing functions of a business and how they fit in with the overall company vision.

Having already worked at an organisation through an internship during your degree can work in your favour when it comes to applying to graduate training programmes. Get a head start by considering which employers regularly run dedicated marketing schemes.

The media industry

If you harbour ambitions to work in media, there are plenty of options - whether you have a specific marketing degree or not.

'You don't need to have a particular background or degree subject to apply for our programmes, as we attract and recruit from a wide range of backgrounds,' says Amandeep Jaspal, senior consultant for the Starting Out team at Sky.

Despite not needing a marketing qualification to join Sky's Academy, you'll still need to be creative and analytical with a commercial focus to get onto the two-year marketing programme. This is in addition to enthusiasm and carrying out plenty of background research.

'We look for people with a real passion for the role that they've applied for, and Sky as an organisation,' she clarifies. 'To make a good impression during our application process, you need to be incredibly specific on why Sky appeals to you - for instance, did a product, service or campaign that you've seen stand out for you and make you want to apply?'

If you get through the selection process, you'll be employed by the media company on a permanent basis. In the graduate marketing role, which is based in Osterley, West London, you'll get to work on a number of projects from beginning to end. This involves telling people about the vast Sky content on offer using a range of mediums, from TV adverts to billboards.

Through the different job rotations - by working in a brand team, linking with creative industries, being part of a proposition, planning or strategic team, and working within a commercial team - you'll get a good understanding of how the different marketing teams operate within Sky.

Applications for entry onto Sky's 2018 graduate programmes will be open from September 2017. To find out more, visit the Graduate Opportunities section of the website and look out for university events where the company is a regular attendee. Candidates are actively encouraged to meet the team before submitting their final application.

To be eligible for Virgin Media's two-year commercial marketing programme based in Hammersmith, you'll need to achieve a 2:1 in any subject, with a marketing- or business-based degree preferred. The starting salary is £29,000, with a £2,000 welcome bonus.

Graduates will be working at the forefront of the company's operations, developing marketing strategies and campaigns. The scheme is split into two 12-month work placements (marketing/commercial), so you'll gain exposure to content, digital entertainment, broadband and mobile functions. Following a few weeks in a frontline customer role, you'll get straight into the marketing rotation.

Upon completion of the scheme, it's expected that you'll be ready to take on a managerial position in either a marketing or commercial team where you can put your finely honed skills to work.

Applications for 2017 entry are now closed. However, you can still explore the scheme in greater depth on Virgin Media's commercial marketing graduate scheme page. You can also ask any questions via their social media channels.

Mobile and internet

Leading mobile network operator and internet service provider EE runs a commercial marketing programme. Like many programmes, this lasts for two years and consists of four rotations and an induction.

The latter provides an overview of the different departments that make up the business, while you'll also get to work in a retail store, at a contact centre and with the digital team. After presenting on the small project you've undertaken, you'll begin the commercial marketing induction.

The first rotation of the main programme has you working in a supporting role, with responsibility for part of a project or the delivery of a low-risk project. You'll then be ready for more complex projects and have a better idea of what role you want to do as you pick up bigger projects. The final stage is am operational role in anything from retail and brand marketing to home broadband and added value products.

Candidates can have studied any degree subject, but you'll need a 2:1 plus strong analytical, numerical and presentation skills. As well as a starting salary of £28,000, there's also a joining bonus of £1,500.

Applications for 2017 are now closed but keep checking the EE commercial marketing scheme page for further details. Those who've already graduated can search their current vacancies.

Hospitality and events

If you want to work for a major restaurant and pub company that manages a number of well-known brands, Mitchells & Butlers runs a two-year marketing-specific graduate scheme.

As one of the biggest industry players, with brands such as Harvester, Toby Carvery and O'Neill's, Mitchells & Butlers gives graduates a rounded understanding of marketing, as you study towards your Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) qualifications. See marketing courses for examples of what's available from the industry's professional body.

Starting with three-month projects in disciplines including marketing services, digital marketing and brand marketing, your second year will involve working in a professional marketing role where you'll get to devise campaigns and promote one of the group's brands.

In addition to a month's free accommodation while settling in to the field-based scheme, which can take place at various locations across the country, there's a £25,500 starting salary plus perks such as a company car.

To be in with a shout for the job, you should be expecting a 2:1 degree or above. Applications for the 2018 intake will be accepted from September 2017. You can then apply through the graduate marketing page on

Marketing programmes in other sectors

  • Finance - The two-year sales and marketing graduate programme within audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG's central services function gives you the opportunity to study towards a CIM qualification.
  • Consumer goods manufacturing - Nestlé (Shredded Wheat, Nescafé, Kit Kat) Unilever (Dove, Flora, Comfort, Lynx), Associated British Foods (Jordan's, Twinings, Kingsmill, Patak's) and Diageo (Smirnoff, Baileys, Guinness) all have marketing programmes for graduates.
  • Energy - Centrica (British Gas) runs a UK-wide scheme in commercial marketing.
  • Healthcare - There's a strategic marketing (vaccines) stream on the Future Leaders programme at GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) for those looking to mix commercial expertise with a knowledge of healthcare products. A Masters degree in marketing, finance or strategy is required for the role based in Belgium (as well as a rotation abroad), while a scientific background would be advantageous. A maximum of two years' professional experience is another requirement.
  • Retail - Most major supermarkets run their own graduate schemes. Marks & Spencer is no exception, hosting an 18-month marketing training programme. Tesco's two-year graduate scheme also has a marketing programme within its business operations strand.