If you're after a structured role in the marketing department of a leading employer, with chances for rapid career progression, then consider the benefits of what a marketing graduate scheme can offer

A graduate scheme can provide you with the high-level training and support needed to develop your skills, while encouraging you to take responsibility for your decisions, come up with new and innovative ideas, and learn from your leaders and peers.

Opting to join a marketing programme will give you an insight into the marketing functions of a business and how this fits in with the overall company vision.

Top marketing graduate schemes

Whatever point you're at in your career, get a head start on the competition and discover which employers are running marketing, advertising and PR graduate schemes in 2019. You can also explore the best marketing graduate schemes by sector.

The media industry

If you have a burning ambition to work in the cutting edge media sector, there are plenty of options - whether you have a 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 range of backgrounds,' says Camilla McBride, early careers manager at Sky.

Despite not needing a marketing qualification, you'll still need to be creative and analytical with a commercial focus to get onto the Sky marketing graduate scheme. 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 for Sky as an organisation,' Camilla 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, and runs for two years, you'll get to work on a number of projects from beginning to end. Across the four six-month rotations, you'll be tasked with developing digital strategies and marketing campaigns, while building customer relationships.

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 graduate programmes starting in August 2019 are being accepted until 28 October 2018. To find out more about current vacancies as well as the next graduate intake, visit Sky - Graduate opportunities and look out for university events. Candidates are actively encouraged to meet the team before submitting their final application.

While Virgin Media doesn't run a specific marketing scheme, its two-year consumer graduate programme based in Hammersmith offers three marketing-focused streams - in commercial marketing, mobile and digital.

Depending on the stream chosen, you'll either be working in the company's marketing and commercial divisions (one year spent in each), developing marketing campaigns for its Virgin Mobile team or gaining hands-on digital experience in digital skills for its customer channel.

To be eligible for the consumer graduate programme, you'll need to achieve a 2:1 in any subject, with a marketing or business-related degree preferred. The starting salary is £30,000, with a £2,000 welcome bonus.

Upon completion of the scheme, it's expected that you'll be ready to take on a managerial position in one of its business divisions, where you can put your finely-honed marketing skills to work.

Visit the Virgin Media Consumer graduate scheme page to register your interest and to be alerted when the application process opens for 2019 entry. 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 marketing scheme lasting two years and consisting of four rotations and an induction.

The latter provides an overview of the wider BT Group and how the consumer teams at EE, PlusNet and BT fit into this. You'll also learn about the different departments that make up the business, as well as the brands and product offering, before being given the opportunity to gain frontline experience in a retail store, at a contact centre and within the digital team. After presenting on the small project you've been working on, you'll spend the next few weeks taking part in the focused marketing induction.

The first rotation of the main programme has you working in a supporting role, with responsibility for the delivery of a low-risk project. You'll then be ready for larger projects and have a better idea of what role you want to do. The final stage is an operational role where you'll be looking to take your career on to the next level.

Candidates can have a degree in any subject, but you'll need a 2:1 plus strong analytical, numerical and presentation skills. The starting salary for the marketing scheme is £28,250.

The 2019 application process has not begun yet, so keep checking the EE marketing scheme page for further details. You can also search their current job vacancies.

Three of the streams on Vodafone's two-year graduate programme have a marketing component or an opportunity to work in this area of the business. For instance, you could work in digital marketing (digital stream), the company's marketing function (business) or digital marketing and brand strategy (commercial).

All these streams starting in September 2019 expect graduates to have achieved a 2:1, although certain subjects are preferred for each. Most of the streams are based at either the company's Newbury HQ campus or its London HQ office. You can apply for the Vodafone graduate programme online, or speak to the employer at one of the many university careers fairs it's due to attend towards the end of 2018.

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 graduate scheme.

As one of the biggest industry players, with brands such as Harvester, Toby Carvery and O'Neill's, Mitchells & Butlers' challenging development programme gives graduates a rounded understanding of marketing.

You'll complete a series of rotational placements within marketing services, brand marketing and digital marketing, which involves creating marketing campaigns for its leading restaurants and pubs.

While on this field-based scheme, which offers a £27,500 starting salary and takes place at various locations across the country, you'll be supported by a dedicated graduate 'buddy' from the year above.

For more details on how to apply, visit the Mitchells & Butlers marketing graduate scheme page.

While many of the other businesses within the hospitality and events management industry are small and medium-sized enterprises, other graduate programmes with the option to focus on marketing include Compass Group UK & Ireland and Whitbread.

Marketing programmes in other sectors

  • Finance - The two-year KPMG sales and marketing graduate programme within the audit, tax and advisory services firm's business services function gives you the opportunity to gain experience as a sales and marketing professional.
  • Consumer goods manufacturing - Nestlé (Shredded Wheat, Nescafé, Kit Kat, Purina) Unilever (Dove, Flora, Comfort, Lynx, Marmite), Procter & Gamble (Ariel, Fairy, Gillette, Oral-B, Pampers), Associated British Foods (Jordans, Twinings, Kingsmill, Patak's) and Diageo (Smirnoff, Baileys, Guinness, Captain Morgan) all have marketing programmes for graduates.
  • Energy - Centrica (British Gas) runs a scheme in commercial marketing, which lasts for two years and three months. It's initially available UK-wide, but it culminates in a job based in Staines or London.
  • Healthcare - There are two commercial management streams (consumer healthcare or pharmaceuticals) on GSK's (GlaxoSmithKline) Future Leaders programme for those looking to mix commercial expertise with knowledge of healthcare products. Both programmes, of one to three years in duration, include a rotation in marketing.
  • Retail - Most major supermarkets run their own graduate schemes with a marketing focus, including the 18-month Marks & Spencer marketing graduate programme and the customer stream of the Tesco graduate scheme. The corporate strand of the Morrisons graduate scheme also provides an opportunity for graduates to work in the retailer's marketing team. Cosmetics company L’Oréal's management training programme also has a marketing component.

Advertising graduate schemes

For those who'd like to work in the advertising industry and be employed by an agency - tasked with coming up with ideas that can transform its customers' businesses - there are advertising graduate schemes designed to train new recruits.

The Institute for Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has created the AdMission website as a portal to graduate advertising opportunities. As well as job postings from many of the hundreds of advertising, media and communications agencies it represents, you'll also find details about the various graduate schemes where applications are currently being accepted.

Top UK agencies that annually recruit for their advertising graduate schemes include the likes of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, which is looking to take on graduates through its AMV Academy, M&C Saatchi, with its M&C Saatchi Future training scheme that also encourages applications from those without a degree, and Publicis Worldwide UK.

PR graduate schemes

Public relations, public affairs and the corporate communications industry is another popular career destination for graduates. Employers running PR graduate schemes include the following:

Find out more

  • Read what it's like to join a company's graduate scheme and how to apply.
  • Consider an internship to boost your chances of getting onto a graduate programme.
  • Explore different types of graduate jobs in marketing and get the lowdown on each role.