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Whether you are looking to apply for a graduate job, graduate scheme or an internship, knowing when to apply can be a minefield, as each job will have its own deadline; and, while there will be many variations as to when to apply for such roles, there are no hard and fast rules to stick to when hunting for the perfect graduate job.

Graduate schemes are typically open to final year students or recent graduates, while graduate jobs are open to those who have a relevant degree. Internships may be available to university students, graduates and non-graduates and, depending on how formal the internship is, applications may be accepted as early as September for an internship that starts in the following summer. 

Graduate jobs are little different to graduate schemes. The latter tends to be a formal training programme run by an individual employer, whilst a graduate job, as defined by the Office of National Statistics and the University of Warwick, is a role that, “normally requires knowledge and skills developed on a three-year university degree to enable them to perform the associated tasks competently.”

Graduate jobs crop up all year round and if you are looking for a job with a specific employer or in a certain industry, we would advise to either sign up to their recruitment newsletter, set up preferences on a recruitment app or keep checking their website or our jobs board.

Depending on your industry and the company you are applying to, job applications can take time to complete; therefore, if you are a final year student, it may make sense to begin applying in September before your studying schedule gets too busy. Applying for graduate jobs while completing your dissertation and sitting your final exams is not advisable, as it is unlikely you will be able to give both the application and the completion of your studies your full attention.

Each and every employer has their own graduate recruitment process. However, most employers will follow a similar recruitment process, which may look like this:

when to apply for graduate jobs

When to start applying for jobs before graduation?

You can start to apply for jobs before graduation. In fact, it is advisable that you do. Some graduate jobs open the application process in September for final year students, whilst others may wait until January, or even the summer.

Depending on your degree subject, you may need to do some research on what type of job is right for you and where to find those jobs. For more advice on where to find a graduate job and how to get a graduate job, take a look at our blog section.

When to apply for a graduate scheme?

If you wish to apply to a graduate scheme, you will need to get in early. Generally, graduate schemes are run by medium to large organisations and places are limited; the most high-profile schemes are extremely competitive and tend to be oversubscribed. 

Some of the most popular graduate schemes for STEM graduates include:

  • Amazon
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Shell
  • Civil Service Fast Steam
  • PWC
  • Infosys
  • Network Rail
  • KPMG
  • Baillie Gifford
  • Airbus
  • Facebook
  • AECOM

These are just a handful of graduate schemes available to graduates with STEM degrees. If you want to apply for a STEM graduate scheme, then it’s likely that applications will open in September (for final year students) and close by December or January. Some graduate schemes do open in January, but the vast majority are likely to open in September. Many graduate schemes will only be open to applications once a year and they won’t open again until the following year. However, it’s worth noting that some graduate schemes may reopen in May or June if they have not yet managed to fill all of the places with appropriate candidates. Also, some graduate schemes will only take those who have graduated in the last two or three years, and others will only take applicants with certain grades, such as a 2:1 or above. There are a small number of schemes which will consider those with a 2:2, such as the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme.

If you are successful in gaining a place on a graduate scheme, then start dates usually begin somewhere between July and September.

If you are looking for a gradate job and you have a STEM degree, upload your CV to our website and let us help you with your job search.