What kind of jobs are there for graduates and university students?

Posted by Andrew Purchas

If you’re studying at university, chances are you’ve got your sights set on finding a graduate job after, or sometimes even before graduation. There are many different types of jobs available, some more competitive than others as well as some dramatically increasing your chances of success when looking for that first graduate position.

We speak to a number of students on a regular basis and many people aren’t aware of the different types of jobs available to them as well as the finer details which can sometimes mean the difference between being successful and having to submit another application.

Graduate Programs

  • Competitiveness – High
  • When should you apply? Applications open as early as February for jobs starting the following year.
  • Role Type – Formal, structured development program aimed at fresh graduates, typically lasting 12 – 24 months before transitioning into full time employment.

Graduate programs are the pinnacle of jobs available to university students (and often the most competitive) and are often structured programs offered by some of the most well-known companies and brands. The main goal of graduate programs are to identify future leaders, offer a structured way to experience multiple parts of a business, provide formal pathways to mentorship from senior leaders as well as career development and training components so participants are fast tracked to leadership and high impact positions within the company.

Graduate Jobs

  • Competitiveness – Moderate
  • When should you apply? – All year round
  • Role - Full time employment

Graduate Jobs differ to graduate programs in the fact they are hiring for a specific role but don’t necessarily have a structured development component like formal graduate programs. Graduate jobs are entry level with the only definite university focused pre-requisite being a relevant university degree.

Even though graduate jobs don’t have a graduate development program attached like their graduate program counterparts, some graduates prefer these jobs as they get to jump into their day to day straight away and start having an immediate impact on the business.

To take a more in depth look into graduate programs vs graduate jobs, what employers are looking for, how to get one, check out our more in-depth post here.

Entry Level Jobs

  • Competitiveness – Moderate
  • When should you apply? – All year round
  • Role – Full time employment

Entry level jobs are those that are open to candidates with little to no experience and may or may not require a university degree meaning they aren’t always specific to those finishing university.

Entry level roles might not always be the ideal position but will help you pay the bills but more importantly get your foot in the door to pick-up real-world experience which is the number one factor for when you are looking at applying for your next position.


  • Competitiveness – High
  • When should you apply? – June
  • Role – Paid Work Experience

An internship is practical work experience with an employer while you are still studying, usually reserved for penultimate year students. It can be paid, unpaid, and sometimes project-based counting towards your studies.

Internships are a great way to experience different employers and roles related to your field of interest and may help you figure out your career direction whilst picking up valuable experience to help you stand out.

Employers might use their internships as a strategy for pre-screening potential future graduate employees. Last year, Australia’s graduate recruitment industry observed a 47% increase in the number of offers accepted by interns into the subsequent graduate programs meaning – this is a worthwhile strategy to explore if you’re eligible.


  • Competitiveness – High
  • When should you apply? – June
  • Role – Paid Work Experience, 4-15 weeks

Specific to the legal industry and often in conjunction with your states law society, obtaining a clerkship will give you the best chance of securing a graduate job within the legal profession. The mid to top tier law firms hire the bulk of their full-time positions from this pool of students


  • Competitiveness – Low
  • When should you apply? – All year round
  • Role – Work Experience

Volunteering is often overlooked by many students as a way to gain some highly relevant experience, work on a project as well as having meaningful impact on the world which is something that is viewed favorably by graduate employers.

Volunteering can cover a variety of things such as an NFP looking for accounting help from a clued-up university student through to a dog shelter looking for IT help on their online adoption platform. See how volunteering gives graduates an edge in their job hunt here


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