What to Expect From a Graduate Program

Posted by GradConnection

It’s the end of another academic year, and if you’re reading this article, this year might have been your last at university. Either way, congratulations! Uni is hard! So, what’s next? There are many pathways you can take out of uni. This article will focus on what you can expect from a graduate program - if you’re considering doing one or just weighing up your options, we are here to help you make an informed decision. 

The basics

While they might sound similar, a graduate program is quite different from a graduate job. Graduate programs facilitate training and development in a highly structured environment. Rather than onboarding a couple of new-starters on a six-monthly or yearly contract, companies typically hire up to 100 new employees for a fixed term of 1-3 years. As such, graduate programs are most commonly found in large organisations, however some small companies also offer a similar program on a smaller scale. The 2020 QILT Graduate Outcomes Survey found that, on average, graduate programs offer a salary of $60,000 per year. This can be more or less than a graduate job salary, depending on which industry you’re entering. 


The expectations and services within the jobs are also different. Graduate programs offer targeted support; in 2017, 78% of organisations surveyed by the Australian Association of Graduate Employees (AAGE) provided mentors as part of their graduate program. On the other hand, if you’re a new employee in a graduate job, you might be expected to be a little more independent. You will still report to a manager or supervisor, but you won’t have someone whose sole job is to ensure you know what you’re doing. With increased support comes increased responsibility; many graduate programs operate with the intention of developing future leaders, rather than experts in a single field. 


A benefit of most graduate programs is you get to work in rotations. This means that everyone works across a few departments over the duration of the program. Rotations can be especially positive if you are unsure of what specific area(s) you are interested in, and getting hands-on experience in a variety of departments allows you to find areas you enjoy and helps rule out those you don’t. A graduate job will be more specific/fixed in the role, but both have opportunities for professional development. 

Opportunities for travel

Graduate programs aren’t just strictly business! They can be suited to those wanting to travel, as many programs offer the opportunity to take the work overseas or interstate. This means you can work during the week, hit the town in the evenings, and explore the sights on the weekends! 

If you’re undertaking a graduate program next year, congratulations and good luck! It is incredibly exciting, but can also be intimidating entering the workforce with limited professional experience. Just remember that you will be looked after and supported every step of the way! 

If you’re thinking about applying for a graduate program, GradConnection has you covered - check out our current opportunities! Please note that the typical application period for graduate programs is February - April, with the program starting the following year. As such, you should only apply if you are in your final year or if you have already graduated but don’t want to go straight into the field. Graduate programs also tend to be more competitive than graduate jobs, so ensure your application is stunning and fits the company’s requirements, but keep your options open too. 

GradConnection wishes you all the best with your ventures out into the world!


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