If you're after a structured role in the marketing department of a leading employer, with chances for rapid career progression, then consider 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.

By opting to join a specific marketing programme, this 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 journey, get a head start on the competition and find out which employers are running marketing, advertising and PR graduate schemes in 2018. You can also find out more about the best marketing graduate schemes by sector.

The media industry

If you harbour ambitions to work in the 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. 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 were accepted from September 2017, but have now closed. To find out more about the next intake, visit the Graduate opportunities section of the Sky website and look out for university events. Candidates are actively encouraged to meet the team before submitting their final application.

To be eligible for Virgin Media's two-year commercial marketing scheme based in Hammersmith, you'll need to achieve a 2:1 in any subject, with a marketing or business-related 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 functions including 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 are no longer being accepted for 2018 entry, but you can still explore the programme 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 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 EE fits into this. You'll also learn about the different departments that make up the business, before being given the opportunity 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 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 more complex tasks 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 any degree, 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.

The 2018 application process has not begun yet, so keep checking the EE marketing scheme page for further details. You can also search their current vacancies.

O2's two-year commercial strategy graduate programme is now open for 2018 (with applications being accepted until 8 January 2018). The scheme is well-suited to those with a passion for customer service looking to work in the mobile operator's marketing team. Based in Slough, Leeds or Preston Brook, you'll command a salary of £30,000 and get to develop your career in commercial management.

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 12-month marketing graduate scheme starting in September/October 2018.

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

You'll complete rotational placements within central marketing services (digital, CRM and PR) and brand marketing, which involves working on real business projects.

While on this field-based scheme, which takes place at various locations across the country, you'll be supported by a dedicated line manager, placement manager and graduate 'buddy' from the year above.

To be in with a chance for the job, which offers a £27,500 starting salary plus perks such as a company car, you should have three A-levels at A-B-B and be expecting a 2:1 degree or above. The closing date for applications is 12 January 2018. You can apply through the graduate marketing page at Mbcareersandjobs.com.

Explore the hospitality and events management industry in more detail to discover if it's the right career option for you.

Marketing programmes in other sectors

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 in September 2018, M&C Saatchi, with its 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