Graduate schemes – another path to employment

Things seem pretty bleak at the moment if you are young and unemployed. One in five university graduates are yet to secure work joining the nearly one million 16 to 24-year-olds currently without a job.

However one path towards employment that could prove to be attractive now more than ever is graduate schemes, where young people learn on the job before, hopefully, they fill the role full-time.

That is precisely where 21-year-old Sarah Turnbull has found herself right now. After completing a degree in Law from the University of Bristol in June, she managed to find a place on a graduate scheme operated by engineering firm e2v in September despite a challenging jobs market.

“It is most probably the amount of jobs available,” she said, sharing her thoughts on why so many former students are out of work, “there are more people graduating now but there is the same number of jobs as five or ten years ago so there is more competition for each role now and employers can be more selective.”

The company she now works for specialises in technological developments and was involved in such high profile programmes as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Airbus 380. She is one of fifteen who have secured a placement on the company’s graduate scheme which was re-launched in September after a break of five years. The programme is also designed to enhance leadership skills and self development.

Turnbull has found that entering a graduate scheme rather than going straight into a job has had is advantages. “I think most graduates would like on to get on one because it’s aimed at them,” she said. “It is like the next step and then you can develop your skills and find an area you are interested in, rather than you go into say a normal job where you have the same role and you either like it or you don’t.”

For this reason she said graduate schemes like hers would be ideal for business management students who are unsure about exactly which aspect of commerce they want to go into. In this way new entrants can take time to explore the company they work for and find their niche, as Turnbull explains: “You get to see the different areas within the business and the company can also see where you are best suited.”

The variety of the scheme is something that Sarah finds exciting and she and the rest of the new intake will spend two years experiencing the different sectors of the business. At the moment she is working with e2v’s marketing team, something she says she is finding very much to her liking. “You have to know about the products in order to market them to their full potential. In my induction week we were shown quite a few of the products so it helps to grow the company if you understand what they are making and the complexity of what they are making as well.”

As for the projects themselves, Turnbull has already been involved in marketing the company’s Flying Gaia space mission project and had the chance to meet with representatives from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). “[e2v] made all the imaging and cameras that go into it and they are hopefully launching in 2013,” she explained. “Its aim is to produce a 3D map of the galaxy, or part of it, so when they are working with partners lie NASA an ESA you know it’s quite big.” Turnbull’s work involves not only the astronomical but the also microscopic as she has observed e2v’s manufacturing of parts for machines for cancer treatment.

Turnbull’s father was an electrical engineer before he retired and he was pleased when he heard she would be working in engineering. “He was a little disappointed I wouldn’t be making things but he was still proud when he heard I was working for an engineering company because it was something that he was interested in and it is something that is always needed.”

She moved from her home in Devon to be nearer to her office which is based in Chelmsford, Essex. She now lives with her boyfriend, 20 miles away, in Epping.
Although she still has the best part of two years until she completes her graduate training, she is looking forward he future with e2v. “It’s challenging but once it is finished the company will identify where they think I will be best suited. I’m hoping to be working in the commercial side of things.” For now, she can look forward to her next rotation in the company in five months time.

Lewis Dyson

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