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How to be strategic in internship and graduate scheme applications 2021

While some of us have sort of adjusted to the new virtual university of experience one thing that has remained unchanged is job application season. The graduate market is going to be more competitive than ever in the coming years and whatever stage you are in your degree you should constantly research for insight days, internships or graduate schemes in your preferred field of work. Now’s not the time to be complacent. However, in this week's article I’ll provide three simple tips on how to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to job applications.


  1. Plan where you want to apply to early 


This may seem obvious to some but there have been times where a deadline for an exciting role I would have been interested in has passed purely because I wasn’t constantly researching and checking or maybe I have been too invested in university work and other commitments to remember to apply.


Spend the time to make some sort of spreadsheet or table with every firm you want to apply to, the deadline (and set up an alert) and what their application process involves.  Some applications have competency tests, others ask you a series of questions of which they ask for a written response. Sometimes both. Knowing exactly what each firm is asking for enables you to gage how long an application will take and give you an idea of what they’re asking for and therefore be able to tailor your research about the firm in advance to ensure you give the best answer. 


Having a spreadsheet is extremely useful in keeping on top of your job applications and if you use something like Google Sheets it makes it easy to be a collaborative project to ease the workload. Moreover, if you’re someone like me who is interested in working in multiple industries you can make multiple tables on one page and next to each table present a link to a version of your CV that is tailored to that field. 


For reference here’s an example of a  format (picture below) you could use 




  1. Apply to as many places as you can. 


The more places you apply to you statistically  increase your chances of receiving a job offer. Don’t see everything outside your maybe top five as a waste of time. As I mentioned previously the coming years will be extremely competitive as last year's cohort who had some of their schemes cancelled will be applying this year. It will also help you with my next tip.



  1. Apply to your first choice last.


Many students apply to the dream firm the day applications open. Whilst it’s true for some firms like Deloitte, if they receive more applications than they expected they will close it earlier than originally planned so it's worth getting it in early. Get used to answering different types of questions, taking tests with other openings that you do not necessarily mind being rejected from. This provides you with test practise and sharpens your answers putting you in that headspace where you are well-acquainted and confident with the relevant industry terms and values. Your first draft is never best, same goes with your first job application.  This should lead to your final application for the company you really want to be a part of, the strongest. 



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