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Graduate scheme or direct entry job with an engineering PhD? watch

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    Hi all!

    I am a PhD student in mechanical engineering.
    I have two job offers, both jobs are mechanical engineering in the energy sector, one is a graduate scheme the other is an advertised job.

    One of the jobs is a 3-year graduate scheme with a major British employer. The other job is a direct entry job where graduates and experienced hires competed, but my PhD was quite relevant so I got the job. This company is comparable in size to the one that offered the graduate scheme, but it has limited activity in Britain.

    The salaries for both jobs are roughly the same.

    Because I am from a country where there are no graduate schemes, only direct entry jobs, I do not understand whether it is a positive or a negative to start with one?

    What are the benefits and drawbacks of starting your career with a graduate scheme and starting it with a direct entry job?

    Many thanks for all the answers.
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    (Original post by EllayEsszedello)
    Hi all!

    I am a PhD student in mechanical engineering.
    I have two job offers, both jobs are mechanical engineering in the energy sector, one is a graduate scheme the other is an advertised job.

    One of the jobs is a 3-year graduate scheme with a major British employer. The other job is a direct entry job where graduates and experienced hires competed, but my PhD was quite relevant so I got the job. This company is comparable in size to the one that offered the graduate scheme, but it has limited activity in Britain.

    The salaries for both jobs are roughly the same.

    Because I am from a country where there are no graduate schemes, only direct entry jobs, I do not understand whether it is a positive or a negative to start with one?

    What are the benefits and drawbacks of starting your career with a graduate scheme and starting it with a direct entry job?

    Many thanks for all the answers.
    I personally think that the actual roles themselves and the career paths they will set you on is more important than the distinction between a graduate scheme and a normal job.

    A graduate scheme will probably give you the opportunity to spend a short amount of time (say, 6-12 months) in a different role, which some may find useful, but then others would rather go into a role and stay in it.
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    (Original post by EllayEsszedello)
    ........
    A graduate scheme is a managed, structured start to a career. You are effectively managed, and not free to set your own course. If you turn out to be a superstar, you can be, but only within the confines of the scheme, conversely if you struggle to adapt to the workplace, you can be fairly supported for a longer period to effect the transition successfully. If you start in a straight job, you have less of a support network (some might say molly-coddling) but you also have more chance to shine and accelerate your progression if that's where your aptitude lies.

    So really, the choice comes down to how much you bet on yourself to make the transition from student to employee. If you think you might struggle, then a graduate scheme is likely to be more supportive. If you feel you are ready to make the move, then a straight job will be an immediate advance and you will be in full control of your career from day 1.

    If you've got offers from both - trust their decision and take the straight job would be my advice.
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    A graduate scheme is a managed, structured start to a career. You are effectively managed, and not free to set your own course. If you turn out to be a superstar, you can be, but only within the confines of the scheme, conversely if you struggle to adapt to the workplace, you can be fairly supported for a longer period to effect the transition successfully. If you start in a straight job, you have less of a support network (some might say molly-coddling) but you also have more chance to shine and accelerate your progression if that's where your aptitude lies.

    So really, the choice comes down to how much you bet on yourself to make the transition from student to employee. If you think you might struggle, then a graduate scheme is likely to be more supportive. If you feel you are ready to make the move, then a straight job will be an immediate advance and you will be in full control of your career from day 1.

    If you've got offers from both - trust their decision and take the straight job would be my advice.
    Thank you for your reply! I do not think I would struggle in the workplace.

    I have some concerns though mainly because of something I've read on other forums. When forum members looked back 4-6 years down the line, many of them have reported that according to their experience there was an observable trend within their cohort of students. Those who started on graduate schemes ended up in important roles and leadership positions, and earned significantly higher salaries (+10-20k) 4-6 years after graduation than those who started with a direct job. It was also mentioned that those starting with a direct job took longer to become chartered and often ended up in lower paying positions with lower responsibility.

    However, one caveat in this is that these people consistently reported that the graduate schemes their schoolmates started already paid significantly higher salaries (+5-10k) than the direct jobs. In my case, this is not true as the salaries are in roughly the same ballpark (1.5k difference).

    Do you think this observation is valid?
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    (Original post by EllayEsszedello)
    ...............
    The observation is valid only in respect of the quality of the individuals. Companies don't promote people because they have entered the business via a grad scheme, they promote people because they are good at their job.

    The question then is do grad schemes make people better at the job that direct entry, or are people intrinsically good at a job, but more of them come in via grad schemes. I believe most employers would say the latter. If a company invests in a grad scheme, they hope to select the best, so would hope that statistically future leaders came through the scheme. That doesn't mean that highly talented direct entrants can't fly just as high or higher.
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    (Original post by EllayEsszedello)
    Thank you for your reply! I do not think I would struggle in the workplace.

    I have some concerns though mainly because of something I've read on other forums. When forum members looked back 4-6 years down the line, many of them have reported that according to their experience there was an observable trend within their cohort of students. Those who started on graduate schemes ended up in important roles and leadership positions, and earned significantly higher salaries (+10-20k) 4-6 years after graduation than those who started with a direct job. It was also mentioned that those starting with a direct job took longer to become chartered and often ended up in lower paying positions with lower responsibility.

    However, one caveat in this is that these people consistently reported that the graduate schemes their schoolmates started already paid significantly higher salaries (+5-10k) than the direct jobs. In my case, this is not true as the salaries are in roughly the same ballpark (1.5k difference).

    Do you think this observation is valid?
    It's generally the larger or higher paying organisations that offer grad schemes, in order to attract decent graduates to stick around long enough to become useful. Other organisations may not be able to match those salaries (not until you become more useful), hence why, for grads, grad schemes are generally the highest remunerated form of employment.

    As threeportdrift says, the pay differential you describe is more likely due to the individuals who were fortunate enough to secure a place on a grad scheme.

    Or it could be that those who were not on graduate schemes weren't effective at negotiating pay increases, or weren't willing to move around companies.

    Or it could be that those who were higher paid were working in areas of higher demand.

    If you want to make money, then make sure you're good at what you do and go contract.

    And I still think that the roles themselves, what they involve and where they may take your career is more important that the difference between a graduate scheme and a "direct entry" job.
 
 
 
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