These structured programmes offered by leading companies provide a wealth of opportunities to gain valuable experience, develop professional skills, and jumpstart your career in the exciting world of science

Which companies run science graduate schemes?

Numerous companies offer science graduate schemes across various sectors. Here are a few examples to get you started:

What will I do on a science graduate scheme?

Graduate schemes typically involve rotations through various departments, providing an understanding of the science or pharmaceutical industry.

You may be expected to work in other locations across the UK and further afield. For example, newcleo's scheme offers opportunities for contribution to the development of Generation IV lead-cooled fast reactor technology and mixed oxide fuel manufacturing capabilities in the UK, Italy, and France.

Some science graduate schemes focus on attaining accreditation. For example, on BP's graduate scheme you’ll work towards becoming chartered engineers and chemists. Others, such as Bayer's scheme, have a focus on mentoring programmes and future employability with the company.

What are the entry requirements?

 The requirements for science graduate schemes may differ depending on the programme and organisation. Most schemes, such as the NHS training programme, require applicants to have a minimum of a 2:1 degree in a relevant science subject, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics. However, some schemes may still consider applicants with a 2:2 degree if they can demonstrate strong potential and relevant experience.

Some schemes may be open to graduates from any science discipline, while others may prefer applicants with a specific scientific background aligned with the programme's focus. Postgraduate qualifications, such as a Masters degree, particularly in a highly specialised field, may also be preferred by certain schemes, such as BP's challenger programme. Highly specialised programmes, such as GSK's vaccine development scheme, requires a PhD.

While not essential, relevant work experiences such as internships or volunteering roles can strengthen your application. This demonstrates your passion for the field, initiative, and ability to apply your knowledge in practical settings.

How do I apply?

 Due to varying deadlines, it's vital to begin applications as soon as possible. The NHS, for instance, opens applications in January, while The Environment Agency follows in February and March. BP and GSK, however, offer year-round applications.

Prepare all necessary application documents beforehand, typically including:

  • a CV
  • cover letter
  • transcripts or recommendation letters.

Remember, you need to tailor your application to each role and company as generic CVs are not looked upon favourably by employers.

Some companies may require online assessments or tests during the application process. These could be psychometric tests, situational judgement tests, or technical assessments demonstrating your capabilities.

If your application is successful, you might be invited to an assessment centre or interview. This could involve group exercises, presentations, case studies, and discussions with hiring managers or stakeholders

What skills will I need?

In addition to your scientific knowledge and technical skills, employers typically look for:

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential for effectively conveying complex scientific information to diverse audiences.
  • The ability to analyse problems, think critically, and develop innovative solutions is crucial for tackling scientific challenges.
  • Collaborative skills are necessary for working effectively within teams, sharing knowledge, and achieving common goals.
  • The ability to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines is essential in a fast-paced scientific environment.
  • A willingness to learn new skills and adapt to changing technologies and methodologies is key in the dynamic world of science.
  • An understanding of the commercial implications of scientific research and development can be valuable, especially in applied science fields.

For more guidance, see what skills do employers want?

How much will I be paid?

Graduate schemes offer a variety of benefits to trainees, including a highly competitive salary, health insurance, pension contributions, time off and flexible work schedules, and funds for professional development.

For instance, if you join the NHS Scientist Trainee Scheme, you will receive a starting salary of £35,392 per year, at Agenda for Change Band 6.

Private companies such as BP and GSK offer competitive salaries ranging from £30,000 to £50,000 per year, while Severn Trent offers a starting salary of £29,056 per year, while the Environment Agency pays around £28,000.

Find out more

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