Updated 1 November 2023
What exactly are students looking for in graduate programs? This is one of the most frequently asked questions by graduate employers, with ‘money’ as one of the most frequently thought of answers. To get to the bottom of this, we asked students this question – read on to find out more about which of the common features of grad programs they really value.
Learning Opportunities and Career Development
According to our 2023 Student Sentiment Survey, learning opportunities and career development ranks as the top priority for most students and graduates (25.20%) when looking for a grad program! How then can you best implement this into your graduate program?
- Structured training programs – incorporate a mix of practical, on-the-job learning and professional development opportunities
- Rotations in different teams/business areas – so grads get to experience diverse areas of the business and see what they like
- Assistance with further study and accreditation specific to your industry e.g. Chartered Accountants or Engineers Australia
- International secondment opportunities
Mentoring, Coaching and Networking Opportunities
One of the best parts for candidates about being in a grad program is the opportunity to be a part of a cohort with like-minded peers who will be able to provide mutual support as they grow within the company. Consider:
- Setting up dedicated social and networking events for grads
- Pairing up fellow grads using a buddy system
- Think grads within or from different teams, or even a former recent grad who’s gone through the same process before!
- Assigning grads to senior team members/leaders as their mentors
- Having your senior leaders be accessible in the company can be an invaluable source of guidance for graduates and their development in their early career
At 8.36%, high-impact and meaningful work is the fourth most valued asset of a grad program for students. This means it’s pivotal to provide ample opportunities for graduates to immerse themselves in real-world tasks that will have a meaningful impact on the company.
- What are the actual daily tasks grads will be completing in their program?
- Are there specific skills that you want grads to learn as an outcome of this program?
- How do graduates typically contribute to your company?
- What would make grads feel proud to represent your organisation and its values?
Coming fifth in the rankings at 8.32% is flexibility regarding working arrangements. In a world where we’ve all adapted to changing environments, not having hybrid and remote working arrangements as options can now be dealbreakers for candidates.
No matter how enticing your offer and remuneration is, if the prospective grad and your company culture isn’t a good fit, you may find yourself looking at a potential renege! Some things graduates graduates value in company culture include:
- Current diversity & inclusion policies and initiatives
- A healthy work/life balance
- Management structures – do you have a horizontal or vertical managerial system? Does the latter still accommodate for senior leaders to be accessible to grads?
Career Progression Post-Program
If you want graduates to stay at your company for the long haul, it’s important to provide an enticing outlook for what their future could look like after they’ve completed the program.
- Are grads guaranteed a position upon completion of the program?
- What room for growth is there for graduates beyond entry-level positions?
- Do grads get a say in their pathway post-program?
- Are there opportunities for them to fast-track their leadership potential? If yes, what are the measures in place to best support this?
- Ask your grad at the beginning of their program what their specific long-term career goals are so you can assist in working towards that together!
Perks and Benefits
While salary is undeniably a key factor for many graduates, sometimes it's the small things that can make all the difference. Does your grad program offer any enticing perks and benefits? Some common ones could be:
- Free gym or subscription memberships
- Flexible generous leave packages
- Healthcare benefits
- Free catering
Ranking lowest in the results were formal orientation or inductions and team rotations - students are looking for something more in their first job than the traditional structures!
Want more insights? The 2023 GradConnection Student Survey Sentiment Summary Report is available for download now!