Posted on 19/02/2014
This time last year there was a sinking feeling in my stomach. Christmas had come and gone without a job offer falling into my lap, and with dissertation deadlines and exams looming my morale was slipping. My brother had two job offers under his belt and I had nothing. Every time I saw a job application asking me for an example of a time I ‘contributed well’ to a team I wanted to cry. I was slowly becoming convinced I’d never amount to anything and that I’d end up working my dead-end summer job forever.
Fast forward 12 months, and I’m sitting typing this from a warm and vibrant office, having just come back from a series of meetings about university engagement, graduate placements and social media opportunities. I landed myself a role on Vodafone’s Discover graduate scheme and haven’t looked back.
When I was applying for graduate schemes, I was intimidated by the Times 100. With a degree in the arts and little business experience, I didn’t think that a major corporation would have any interest in me. I applied for every role I could with little discrimination in an attempt to cast as wider net as possible. Most of them rejected me in the first round.
There were two main reasons that I struggled to find the perfect scheme for me: first was a lack of confidence in my skills and second was a lack of direction. Over my university life I had contemplated every career from freelance journalist to doctor, and settled on nothing. And I assumed that my degree, whilst highly enjoyable, didn’t exactly lend itself to business life. Applying for Vodafone - and indeed joining their scheme - helped me realise that my degree was just as valid and rewarding as any other, and that it was okay to be unsure about the future.
Vodafone’s Discover Graduate scheme allows applications from any degree discipline, as long as you are on track for a 2.1. Roughly 48% of the graduates in my intake do not come from a business or technology background. So my degree in Comparative Literature and Culture was welcomed with open arms – and once I started working I came to truly appreciate the transferrable skills an arts subject gave me. From team work to analytics to presentation skills, it’s easy to realise that any degree has value in the working market, regardless of subject.
Furthermore, the two-year scheme allows you to move around the business functions instead of tying you in to one stream. Currently, I sit within HR but for my next placement I could go to Enterprise, Customer Services, Marketing or IT – in fact, the list is endless. For someone like me who doesn’t know where they want to end up, the variety and flexibility can make a huge difference. The scheme caters to our open-mindedness and accommodates to it. Instead of pigeon-holing us into fixed roles, we are encouraged to explore and challenge ourselves over a variety of placements.
Last year, Vodafone’s graduate scheme was voted one of the best companies to work for on The Job Crowd website, and it’s easy to see why from within the company. It might not be a Top 100 scheme, but its flexible nature and focus on potential makes it a great alternative for those students looking for something a little less intimidating.
To find out more about Vodafone's Graduate Programme, visit their website here. The deadline to apply is the 28th February 2014.