Once you've graduated, if you're set on marketing as a career, you can gain essential experience and earn a salary by joining a graduate scheme

Graduate schemes are a great way to enter the marketing industry. They usually take between one and three years, and often lead to a job with the company upon completion.

Which companies run marketing schemes?

All companies need to promote their product and as a result you'll find marketing departments in most organisations.

Companies that offer marketing graduate schemes include:

  • Associated British Foods - has a two-year scheme involving project management and delivering presentations.
  • Centrica - offers a commercial and marketing scheme lasting two years and three months, with the option for flexible home working.
  • Diageo - runs a three-year rotational programme involving brand marking and customer activation.
  • Nestle - has a two-year scheme that covers brand communication and analysing market trends.
  • Newton Europe - its people and marketing stream involves three placements lasting three to six months each.
  • Virgin Media - runs a two-year commercial, product and marketing scheme with four, six-month rotations.

Search for marketing, advertising and PR graduate schemes or check out some other graduate schemes.

What do marketing graduate schemes involve?

This depends on the company and the scheme but generally you will cover all areas of marketing such as public relations, copywriting, and search engine optimisation.

For example, at Virgin Media, the four six-month rotations give you the opportunity to learn about various operations within commercial and marketing. You’ll look at bringing products to market, customer experience, managing revenue, and promoting the brand. You'll also have your own mentor on hand for help and advice.

Centrica's marketing graduate scheme takes just over two years to complete and involves working with brands such as British Gas and Local Heroes. While on the scheme you'll gather customer insights, develop material for TV and run social media campaigns. By the end of the scheme your employers will have a better idea of which department best suits you and provide you with a relevant role.

The Newton Europe marketing graduate scheme involves three six-month placements within one of three possible functions (operations, people and IT). Rotations include recruitment, talent development, marketing and event and engagement.

Nestle's marketing graduate scheme is a two-year commitment where you'll get the chance to contribute to and lead brand projects. The programme includes brand communication, analysing market trends and acting on insights into target consumers.

What are the entry requirements?

You'll require a degree to be considered for a graduate scheme, but often in any discipline. Grades are also not always specified, but if they are then a 2:1 will usually be required, with some recruiters accepting a 2:2.

Both Nestle and Diageo require a degree, but neither of them are strict about subject or grade. Both allude to enthusiasm and soft skills as standout traits they look for. Virgin Media's graduate scheme requires a 2:1 undergraduate degree. Centrica is the same, but they will accept a 2:2 if it is combined with a Masters.

How do I apply?

Many companies will evaluate candidates with psychometric tests, video interviews and an invite to an assessment centre.

You'll want to treat CVs, cover letters and personal statements with the same level of care you would for a job application. This means tailoring it to the position, and only including content that's relevant to the scheme. The last stage of the application is usually a face-to face interview.

The window to apply for graduate schemes usually opens from June-onwards, with a deadline around November or December. It's advisable to apply sooner rather than later because they may fill up and close early. If the deadline has passed for a company or scheme you're interested in, bookmark or regularly visit the careers pages on their website to avoid missing out.

How much will I be paid?

Salaries vary depending on the company. For example:

  • Virgin Media offer a salary of £35,000 a year, plus gym discounts. They also gift starters with a £2,000 bonus.
  • Nestle pay £30,000 a year.
  • Centrica offer a starting salary of £32,000 a year plus a starting bonus of £3,000.
  • Newton Europe pays between £31,000 and £34,000 per annum with a £3,000 joining bonus. This also includes life assurance and income protection.
  • Diageo pay a salary of roughly £36,400 depending on location, plus the opportunity for bonuses.

For further guidance on potential salaries take a look at marketing executive.

Am I guaranteed a job at the end?

There's never a guarantee you'll get a job offer after you complete a scheme, but most companies run them with the intention of employing those who take part, hence the rigorous selection process.

Keep in mind that the skills and experience you acquire will positively impact your chances of getting jobs elsewhere. So, if you aren't guaranteed a job at the end of your graduate scheme then it's no reason to worry.

Find out more

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