Graduate Scheme Application Help Watch

WillingAndAble
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I'm in the process of applying to a graduate scheme and I'm very unsure of how to go about answering some questions:

1. Are there any particular topics, projects or achievements during your degree that you would like to draw our attention to?

2. Tell us about any work experience or internships you've previously completed (max 400 words).

3. What additional activities or hobbies have you particularly enjoyed over the last few years (max 200 words).

A lot of the other graduate schemes I applied to didn't require answering anything like this and just jumped straight to the psychometric tests, so now I'm panicking a bit since I don't really know what to include that would be relevant enough in these 3 questions. For reference I'm studying Economics at university and am applying for an analyst graduate scheme, so if anyone has any tips for me I would really appreciate it.
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James Smith 90
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(Original post by WillingAndAble)
I'm in the process of applying to a graduate scheme and I'm very unsure of how to go about answering some questions:

1. Are there any particular topics, projects or achievements during your degree that you would like to draw our attention to?

2. Tell us about any work experience or internships you've previously completed (max 400 words).

3. What additional activities or hobbies have you particularly enjoyed over the last few years (max 200 words).

A lot of the other graduate schemes I applied to didn't require answering anything like this and just jumped straight to the psychometric tests, so now I'm panicking a bit since I don't really know what to include that would be relevant enough in these 3 questions. For reference I'm studying Economics at university and am applying for an analyst graduate scheme, so if anyone has any tips for me I would really appreciate it.
The questions are quite straightforward, a tip would be format your answers using the STAR technique:
Situation
Task
Action
Result
Good luck!
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by James Smith 90)
The questions are quite straightforward, a tip would be format your answers using the STAR technique:
Situation
Task
Action
Result
Good luck!
Hi, thanks I am aware of the STAR technique but I'm just not so sure on how to apply my own experiences.

Like for the first question, I wouldn't say I'm an incredibly talented student so I don't think there really are any achievements for me to talk about. And what sort of topics/projects would be relevant for an analyst role? - is it including things like me being able to use different types of software that I've used in my degree or if I've taken quite numerical modules? I'm just a bit stuck.
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James Smith 90
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(Original post by WillingAndAble)
Hi, thanks I am aware of the STAR technique but I'm just not so sure on how to apply my own experiences.

Like for the first question, I wouldn't say I'm an incredibly talented student so I don't think there really are any achievements for me to talk about. And what sort of topics/projects would be relevant for an analyst role? - is it including things like me being able to use different types of software that I've used in my degree or if I've taken quite numerical modules? I'm just a bit stuck.
You don't need to be incredibly talented but as you have said you probably need to use examples that relate to the role you are applying to if possible, so as you have said you have studied numerical modules and used different software.... use a time when you worked really well on a project or in a team in those modules and what you have achieved ... that sort of thing.
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by James Smith 90)
You don't need to be incredibly talented but as you have said you probably need to use examples that relate to the role you are applying to if possible, so as you have said you have studied numerical modules and used different software.... use a time when you worked really well on a project or in a team in those modules and what you have achieved ... that sort of thing.
Oh I see! So if I mention things like I've used two statistical softwares (where my ability to use them has been assessed), if I've had to do group projects/presentations and things like using Excel, etc.

Also wanted to ask about the second question. Unfortunately I wasn't able to secure an internship last year so I don't really have any experience directly related to the role I'm applying to. I do have work experience like tutoring, admin assistant, etc. Have you got any advice on how I can go about trying to apply that to a more analytical role? I feel like I'm really lacking in comparison to all the other students that'll be applying which is why I am panicking a bit.
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ajj2000
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What sort of analyst role? IT? Financial?
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
What sort of analyst role? IT? Financial?
Financial
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ajj2000
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(Original post by WillingAndAble)
Financial
Ok- so does the job spec list core competencies or deliverables? Is it looking for a data analyst type person?
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Ok- so does the job spec list core competencies or deliverables? Is it looking for a data analyst type person?
this is the job: https://careers.virginmedia.com/earl...hemes/analyst/
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James Smith 90
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(Original post by WillingAndAble)
Oh I see! So if I mention things like I've used two statistical softwares (where my ability to use them has been assessed), if I've had to do group projects/presentations and things like using Excel, etc.

Also wanted to ask about the second question. Unfortunately I wasn't able to secure an internship last year so I don't really have any experience directly related to the role I'm applying to. I do have work experience like tutoring, admin assistant, etc. Have you got any advice on how I can go about trying to apply that to a more analytical role? I feel like I'm really lacking in comparison to all the other students that'll be applying which is why I am panicking a bit.
If you don't have experience directly relating to the role look at what skills they want to see in their employee and use any previous experience to demonstrate those
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by James Smith 90)
If you don't have experience directly relating to the role look at what skills they want to see in their employee and use any previous experience to demonstrate those
Okay, thanks. So for the last question, for activities and hobbies should I also include the societies I'm involved in at university? And is there anything else that you think would be quite important to include?
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ajj2000
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(Original post by James Smith 90)
If you don't have experience directly relating to the role look at what skills they want to see in their employee and use any previous experience to demonstrate those
That's great advice.

OP - I've been giving this some thought and made a couple of calls to check if I had any understanding. I'll write more later.

The first thing to note is that this is being recruited as a graduate scheme. In itself 'grad scheme' is a bit of a meaningless phrase. They are just jobs in a lot of cases. However there are plenty of schemes which I would regard as being different to normal entry level jobs - notable as:

- the pay rates/ training provisions etc are above market norms (indicating that they are trying to attract strong candidates and are probably more interested in what you can bring to the party in a couple of years time than what you can do now).

- the jobs ads and recruitment processes don't push much on previous experience.

For such jobs direct experience can be far less important or valuable than for other types of roles.New graduates rarely have any worth writing about - for all they try to fill up their CV's. A 6 week internship probably doesn't do anything to develop skills let alone demonstrate them so I wouldn't let this lack of experience put you off at all. I would focus on trying to demonstrate that you have the skills and aptitudes to develop in the specific workplace and progress quickly with the company.
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
That's great advice.

OP - I've been giving this some thought and made a couple of calls to check if I had any understanding. I'll write more later.

The first thing to note is that this is being recruited as a graduate scheme. In itself 'grad scheme' is a bit of a meaningless phrase. They are just jobs in a lot of cases. However there are plenty of schemes which I would regard as being different to normal entry level jobs - notable as:

- the pay rates/ training provisions etc are above market norms (indicating that they are trying to attract strong candidates and are probably more interested in what you can bring to the party in a couple of years time than what you can do now).

- the jobs ads and recruitment processes don't push much on previous experience.

For such jobs direct experience can be far less important or valuable than for other types of roles.New graduates rarely have any worth writing about - for all they try to fill up their CV's. A 6 week internship probably doesn't do anything to develop skills let alone demonstrate them so I wouldn't let this lack of experience put you off at all. I would focus on trying to demonstrate that you have the skills and aptitudes to develop in the specific workplace and progress quickly with the company.
Thanks for the advice!

So for the 3 questions, would you say there's anything that I should definitely avoid including then? Or should I just try to briefly mention everything?
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ajj2000
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(Original post by WillingAndAble)
Thanks for the advice!

So for the 3 questions, would you say there's anything that I should definitely avoid including then? Or should I just try to briefly mention everything?
I think the thing to consider is how your responses will be considered. For such schemes you might ponder that there are two extremes under which initial assessment of applications might be made:

- someone reads them and puts in piles (bin, consider, take forward, star performer for example)
- there is a pre-set list of competencies against which each applicant is graded - and those with enough points are taken forward.

In reality for companies like Virgin the second of these will be pretty near the reality. So your problem is showing the required competencies (to score against their matrix) without knowing what the questions you are being scored on are.

I've only looked at the website you linked to in the hope of getting an idea. If you register you may get far more information. Salient factors seem to be:

...interpreting statistics of our performance or predicting future trends that give us the insight to make the best informed business decisions.

If you have a head for numbers and deciphering Big Data....

They’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performanceThey’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performance and culture.

Having outstanding communication, presentation and relationship building skills are equally important to us

And, because data does it for you, we’ll let you loose on large, complex datasets .....

Essentially, you should have the ability to interpret complex data in a way that’s understood by people from a range of backgrounds.

They’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performance

That and a 2:1 or above in a numerical-based degree (ideally maths, finance or economics – but we’ll consider anyone who has studied a discipline that’s involved working with large datasets).


You’ll also need to be flexible about location as the scheme may involve placements across the country, including Hammersmith, Reading, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.

The video also stresses that the two year programme will have two office rotations for which your say in location may be very limited.

So what might you try to emphasise? Essentially that you tick their requirements. They stress certain things:

- an appropriate degree (highly numerate) which has involved working with large datasets. You need to explain how your degree and course options were highly numerate and that you have worked with large datasets. So with an economics degree you may need to emphasise the courses you have taken to clarify that its not a PPE type degree.

- interpret complex data in a way that it is understood by people from a range of backgrounds. Ok - so this is not a back office data compilation or statistician job. You need to demonstrate how you can communicate information and deal with a range of people.

- "They’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performance" - again - not just number crunching. You need to show you can look for commercial benefits in reviewing the data.

- 'Having outstanding communication, presentation and relationship building skills are equally important to us' - you need to show these aptitudes.

- flexibility in location. Not a easy to bring out but showing yourself as personable and likable is a way to demonstrate that you can move and make friends.

As a general note. for high flyer type schemes there may well be grading for 'leadership' and 'high achievements'. Although I'd generally stick to things which are relevant to the job, anything which is credible and impressive which shows these is worth putting down.

So for the questions you have to answer:

1. Are there any particular topics, projects or achievements during your degree that you would like to draw our attention to?

2. Tell us about any work experience or internships you've previously completed (max 400 words).

3. What additional activities or hobbies have you particularly enjoyed over the last few years (max 200 words).



With regard to the above I might consider:

- question 1: and projects which you can use to demonstrate analysis of large data sets. Mathematical courses you have taken to show that you have done a properly quantitative course. Stress presentations of data - especially to non specialist audiences if possible. Anything where you have had to look for commercial benefits and make proposals for actions. Any courses or projects concerned with the interpretation of statistics.

If you are doing a dissertation which covers any of these areas its worth emphasising this work.

question 2: depends on what work experience you have. Anything involving teamwork can be worth noting. This might be an opportunity to emphasise experience in communicating information - for example tutoring.

question 3 - only 200 words. Ideally you want to show things which are relevant to the job requirements - so any volunteering or other activities which included communicating, particularly complex ideas, presentation skills, making commercial decisions etc. Also a couple of sentences about interests and hobbies of the 'I am an active member of the university netball and fashion societies, and enjoy cross country running' variety.
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
I think the thing to consider is how your responses will be considered. For such schemes you might ponder that there are two extremes under which initial assessment of applications might be made:

- someone reads them and puts in piles (bin, consider, take forward, star performer for example)
- there is a pre-set list of competencies against which each applicant is graded - and those with enough points are taken forward.

In reality for companies like Virgin the second of these will be pretty near the reality. So your problem is showing the required competencies (to score against their matrix) without knowing what the questions you are being scored on are.

I've only looked at the website you linked to in the hope of getting an idea. If you register you may get far more information. Salient factors seem to be:

...interpreting statistics of our performance or predicting future trends that give us the insight to make the best informed business decisions.

If you have a head for numbers and deciphering Big Data....

They’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performanceThey’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performance and culture.

Having outstanding communication, presentation and relationship building skills are equally important to us

And, because data does it for you, we’ll let you loose on large, complex datasets .....

Essentially, you should have the ability to interpret complex data in a way that’s understood by people from a range of backgrounds.

They’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performance

That and a 2:1 or above in a numerical-based degree (ideally maths, finance or economics – but we’ll consider anyone who has studied a discipline that’s involved working with large datasets).


You’ll also need to be flexible about location as the scheme may involve placements across the country, including Hammersmith, Reading, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.

The video also stresses that the two year programme will have two office rotations for which your say in location may be very limited.

So what might you try to emphasise? Essentially that you tick their requirements. They stress certain things:

- an appropriate degree (highly numerate) which has involved working with large datasets. You need to explain how your degree and course options were highly numerate and that you have worked with large datasets. So with an economics degree you may need to emphasise the courses you have taken to clarify that its not a PPE type degree.

- interpret complex data in a way that it is understood by people from a range of backgrounds. Ok - so this is not a back office data compilation or statistician job. You need to demonstrate how you can communicate information and deal with a range of people.

- "They’re eagle-eyed at finding ways to improve our business performance" - again - not just number crunching. You need to show you can look for commercial benefits in reviewing the data.

- 'Having outstanding communication, presentation and relationship building skills are equally important to us' - you need to show these aptitudes.

- flexibility in location. Not a easy to bring out but showing yourself as personable and likable is a way to demonstrate that you can move and make friends.

As a general note. for high flyer type schemes there may well be grading for 'leadership' and 'high achievements'. Although I'd generally stick to things which are relevant to the job, anything which is credible and impressive which shows these is worth putting down.

So for the questions you have to answer:

1. Are there any particular topics, projects or achievements during your degree that you would like to draw our attention to?

2. Tell us about any work experience or internships you've previously completed (max 400 words).

3. What additional activities or hobbies have you particularly enjoyed over the last few years (max 200 words).



With regard to the above I might consider:

- question 1: and projects which you can use to demonstrate analysis of large data sets. Mathematical courses you have taken to show that you have done a properly quantitative course. Stress presentations of data - especially to non specialist audiences if possible. Anything where you have had to look for commercial benefits and make proposals for actions. Any courses or projects concerned with the interpretation of statistics.

If you are doing a dissertation which covers any of these areas its worth emphasising this work.

question 2: depends on what work experience you have. Anything involving teamwork can be worth noting. This might be an opportunity to emphasise experience in communicating information - for example tutoring.

question 3 - only 200 words. Ideally you want to show things which are relevant to the job requirements - so any volunteering or other activities which included communicating, particularly complex ideas, presentation skills, making commercial decisions etc. Also a couple of sentences about interests and hobbies of the 'I am an active member of the university netball and fashion societies, and enjoy cross country running' variety.
Wow, I honestly didn't expect that much help. I really appreciate it!

So for the first question, for example, would you still recommend keeping it quite brief? Or do I need to go into more detail. Like I've had to use two statistical softwares throughout my degree and my ability has been assessed on them - so should I definitely mention that. And also, I have had to do group projects where we analyse data using Excel and have had to present our findings to the rest of the class. So I mention this too? And do I have to specifically mention what the projects were about (e.g. impact of sugar tax, etc.)

For the last question, would you say to include volunteering in a care home counts? And what if I mentioned that I had my own blog?
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ajj2000
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So for the first question, for example, would you still recommend keeping it quite brief? Or do I need to go into more detail.

I would look to be succinct rather than brief. Try to avoid anything which might look like filler as you have great things to write about.

Like I've had to use two statistical softwares throughout my degree and my ability has been assessed on them - so should I definitely mention that.


Yes - but try to give a bit of narrative. What have you used them for. Can you give an example of how you used them with large datasets? Using multivariate analysis? Making commercial recommendations?

'During my course I have passed courses on xxX and YYY software used for statistical analysis and have used these throughout my degree. This has included a project to review consumer spending patterns on a daily basis for a retail operation. Use of the software and statistical techniques allowed me to present how sales varied over the calendar week - data which could be used for demand planning. The analysis included the impact of weather changes and seasonal factors including school holidays. I presented the findings at a university seminar, including recommendations for how the business could prepare projections including weather forecasts and local data on school terms.'

And also, I have had to do group projects where we analyse data using Excel and have had to present our findings to the rest of the class. So I mention this too? And do I have to specifically mention what the projects were about (e.g. impact of sugar tax, etc.)

I would try to phrase it in a way which includes specific projects as part of the paragraph.

For example introduce the project, explain the task, how you analysed the issue, how you presented the findings and what value you added. Calculations of the impact of sugar tax? Any analysis of alternatives the suppliers could adopt through alternative flavourings etc?

For the last question, would you say to include volunteering in a care home counts? And what if I mentioned that I had my own blog?


A lot depends on what else you have to write about and how strong these examples are compared with others. Both sound like they could be very good but would need some context. For example on the blog you might want to explain (briefly) how you set it up and what you learned - for example combining pictures and words to interest and inform the readers.
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WillingAndAble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
So for the first question, for example, would you still recommend keeping it quite brief? Or do I need to go into more detail.

I would look to be succinct rather than brief. Try to avoid anything which might look like filler as you have great things to write about.

Like I've had to use two statistical softwares throughout my degree and my ability has been assessed on them - so should I definitely mention that.


Yes - but try to give a bit of narrative. What have you used them for. Can you give an example of how you used them with large datasets? Using multivariate analysis? Making commercial recommendations?

'During my course I have passed courses on xxX and YYY software used for statistical analysis and have used these throughout my degree. This has included a project to review consumer spending patterns on a daily basis for a retail operation. Use of the software and statistical techniques allowed me to present how sales varied over the calendar week - data which could be used for demand planning. The analysis included the impact of weather changes and seasonal factors including school holidays. I presented the findings at a university seminar, including recommendations for how the business could prepare projections including weather forecasts and local data on school terms.'

And also, I have had to do group projects where we analyse data using Excel and have had to present our findings to the rest of the class. So I mention this too? And do I have to specifically mention what the projects were about (e.g. impact of sugar tax, etc.)

I would try to phrase it in a way which includes specific projects as part of the paragraph.

For example introduce the project, explain the task, how you analysed the issue, how you presented the findings and what value you added. Calculations of the impact of sugar tax? Any analysis of alternatives the suppliers could adopt through alternative flavourings etc?

For the last question, would you say to include volunteering in a care home counts? And what if I mentioned that I had my own blog?


A lot depends on what else you have to write about and how strong these examples are compared with others. Both sound like they could be very good but would need some context. For example on the blog you might want to explain (briefly) how you set it up and what you learned - for example combining pictures and words to interest and inform the readers.
Just wanted to thank you again for all your help, I submitted the form last night (but I'm not sure if I'm through to the next stage though).

I wanted to ask one minor thing regarding the blog, since I've gotten different answers from everyone, would you say it should come under work experience or it should come under hobbies? I'm only asking since I actually do make money from it now and I own the domain name.

Also wanted to ask, do you think in the meantime there's anything else I could do to build up my CV? I feel like mine is really lacking in comparison to others at university (even those who didn't get internships last year).
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ajj2000
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I wanted to ask one minor thing regarding the blog, since I've gotten different answers from everyone, would you say it should come under work experience or it should come under hobbies? I'm only asking since I actually do make money from it now and I own the domain name.

I think you have to look on each form to see where it can be best placed so its to your advantage and doesn't look like you are not answering the question asked. To make money from a blog is a pretty good achievement - I think it might put it under work experience unless you have a strong alternatives to focus on there.

Also wanted to ask, do you think in the meantime there's anything else I could do to build up my CV? I feel like mine is really lacking in comparison to others at university (even those who didn't get internships last year).


Difficult one. If you try too hard to gain additional things at this stage you risk damaging your studies and job applications. If there was an easy way to show an interest in a sector of work - such as a company or industry course, or work shadowing etc - that might be worthwhile. Likewise if you can easily find a retail type job for 3 weeks over Christmas that might give good answers to interview question. In general I think the risk of being distracted by chasing opportunities is a bit too great.
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