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How to Apply for a Graduate Program

graduate programs

Are you in the final year or semester of your degree and wondering about your future career options? You may want to consider applying for a position in a graduate program!

Graduate programs are recruitment programs that usually last for a period of one to two years, and are offered by companies and government organisations to graduates from a variety of disciplines. They’re available across various many different industries, including business and commerce, banking and finance, arts and humanities, engineering, information technology, and human resources. A large number of Australian and multinational firms offer graduate programs, such as Deloitte, Telstra, IBM, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), KPMG, HSBC Bank Australia, GHD, and several more.

Aside from providing a kickstart to your career, graduate programs offer plenty of other benefits. These include structured induction and training, formal mentoring and supervision, career development planning, and helping you transition from full-time student to full-time employee.

Interested? Here are four tips to take note of when applying for a graduate program position in Australia.

Do Your Research

It’s important to do your research before applying to graduate programs. Be aware of your skills, strengths and weaknesses, and the kinds of careers you’re interested in and can see yourself doing in the long-run. Also, consider the type of company you’d like to work for, their work culture and environment, and if their job descriptions and responsibilities match your interests. Usually, students will apply for graduate programs that will cater to their specific interests and/or field of study.

It’s also vital to stay on top of application deadlines. Generally, students are required to apply for a graduate program either months or a year in advance in order to obtain a spot. Also, there are often two intakes each year – one at the start of the year, and one halfway through. Note that the opening and closing dates of graduate programs often vary across companies.

It’s also important to find out about your eligibility for a graduate program. You might need to have certain skills or be studying a particular degree. Many organisations will require that you’ve completed your degree within the last two years.

To find out more about graduate program career opportunities, check out Grad Australia, Graduate Opportunities, Grad Connection, Seek, and Indeed. Otherwise, if there’s a company that interests you or that you dream of working for, visit their website to see if they offer any graduate programs.

Think about the quality of your application

The quality of your application is important when applying for a graduate program.

The application process normally consists of online assessments and interviews (these might be over the phone, via video link or face-to-face).

In your online application, you are given the opportunity to tell the company more about yourself. Aside from your academic achievements, you will be asked to share your experience across several other areas. These could include any involvement in extracurricular activities, volunteering, relevant work experience, leadership roles and/or personal interests. Usually, you will be asked to attach your resume, together with a copy of your academic transcripts to date.

Read the questions in your application carefully so that you can state how your skills and interests will contribute positively to the company. In short, understand your worth and value to an organisation, and the advantages that you can offer so that you can market yourself successfully. Having referees to support your graduate program application will also serve as a bonus. These referees will be able to vouch for your skills and abilities, such as your work ethic and personality, which will help you stand out from the crowd.

The final stage of the application process will usually involve online assessments and interviews. Individual organisations usually have their own way of doing assessments. You might need to do psychometric tests, aptitude tests, cognitive ability tests, or online video assessments. As such, remember to read the assessment instructions carefully and try some practice tests beforehand.

Your interview might be over the phone, via video link or face-to-face. Make sure to prepare for the interview by thinking about how you’d answer certain questions and perfecting your interview style.

One key thing to note is that you will receive email notifications at each stage of the recruitment process. This will include the expected timeframe to hear back from the company about your application.

Network to build industry connections

In preparation for your graduate career, it’s helpful to network with industry professionals relevant to your field of study. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet with company representatives from the specific graduate programs that you’re interested in so that you can find out more about their assessment criteria and the types of applicants they’re looking for.

Try to attend industry-specific networking nights, careers fairs and other events that are held periodically throughout the year. You’ll be able to mingle with a large pool of skilled working professionals, potential mentors and veterans in the field. Chatting with these industry professionals will also help you to improve your intercultural communication skills, and help you to stand out from the sea of graduates in your field, as a face-to-face meeting leaves a lasting impression.

Understand your working rights in Australia

Be aware of your working rights in Australia before applying for a graduate program.

Different graduate programs will have their own visa requirements, however, all of them will request that you have full working rights. While you won’t need to be a permanent resident at the time to apply, some graduate programs may specify that you need to be eligible for permanent residency. Also, graduate program providers won’t apply for visas on your behalf – the process needs to be undertaken directly by you.

The Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) is an option available to international students who have completed their higher education in Australia. There are two streams to the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485): Graduate Work stream and Post-study Work stream.

Graduate Work stream: This visa is for international students who have recently graduated with skills and qualifications relevant to the skilled occupation list. It allows you to stay in Australia for up to 18 months. You must apply for this visa within six months of the expiry of your student visa.

Post-study Work stream: This visa is for international students who have recently graduated with a degree from a CRICOS-registered Australian institution. It allows you to stay in Australia for two to four years. You must apply for this visa within six months of your course completion date. It’s important to note that the course completion date differs from your graduation date.

The Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) does not restrict the type of work you can do or the number of hours you may work. All applications for this visa must be made onshore in Australia.  Other requirements include the length of your studies in Australia, English proficiency standards (English tests such as IELTS or PTE), adequate health insurance, and a few other criteria.

Check out the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for more information about applying for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485).

So, what are you waiting for? Kickstart your future career and start applying for a graduate program position today!