The 15 stages of applying to a grad scheme in lockdown

Employment? We don’t know her

The grad scheme application process, every finalist’s worst nightmare. What’s the one way you could make the whole ordeal worse? Ah yes, do it all online in the middle of a global pandemic.

There are 15 very clear stages of breakdown that occur when you apply for a graduate trainee job that 10,000 other applicants around the country are also fighting for.

Eventually, 50 per cent of students going through the grad scheme application process are just left questioning why they didn’t apply for a Master’s. But for those of you set on braving the job world let’s get started on the 15 stages of applying to a grad scheme in lockdown.

1. You start to panic

Everyone suddenly has a grad scheme, a career plan, a dad in finance offering them a seat on the company board. What on earth are you going to do?

2. Next you embark on the research stage

That’s it, you’ve got to find your calling. You trawl career websites, you spend more time on than Instagram, you’ve even booked one of those career advice seminars with a man called Colin who essentially tells you to just google it.

3. It’s decision time

You’ve found it, life clicks into place and you realise you’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist. Wait, do you even have the A-levels for that?

Perhaps accountancy is more your thing after all.

Oh well, apply for both.

student online learning at home

4. The exhausting writing stage

Your life has become your CV. You’ve memorised your key skills, you’re so good at teamwork but you’re also a leader. You’re extremely proactive, you have experience coming out of your ears.

Maybe you stretched the truth a bit, but who’s checking, right?

5. Now you enter application central

Every day you’re glued to Target Jobs, you own that filter search, deadlines don’t phase you, Indeed is your home.

Relaxation has become a distant memory.

Maybe you’re at the supermarket or having dinner with your flat, but it wouldn’t hurt to sneakily refresh Bright Network under the table. Everyone loves a cheeky update.

Reading New Year's Resolution

Just checking nothing’s changed in the past 30 seconds

6. So. Many. Emails.

Dear Candidate,

After a robot read your CV, we’re delighted to invite you to participate in our online tests. You have about one hour in which to do this before we automatically discount your application.

Best of luck,

Head of HR

Thanks, Gwen but I’m not delighted, I have a dissertation to write, an essay due, lectures, seminars and my ACTUAL job which I already work to earn ACTUAL money.

Plus, who said anything about maths tests? I wasn’t warned.

7. Then come the impossible maths tests

Here is a graph showing you the percentage increase in the share price of GDLV plc. from 2009 to 2017. If a train was going at 100 miles an hour what would the weather be like in Spain?

A) Cold

B) A 12.35 per cent increase in share price

D) You haven’t got a hope of getting this grad scheme, quit now honey and go make yourself a cup of tea.

8. The even worse personality tests

If you joined a team on a new project and no one wanted you there and it all kicked off into a big argument, what would you do to ensure the situation still made money for management?

9. The verbal reasoning tests – they’re the best of the three

Look for a true or false answer to a question regarding a piece of information that isn’t in this paragraph.

*speed reading intensifies*

10. You’re through to the next round! Oh wait, it’s a god-awful video interview

It’s like OnlyFans but instead of recent nudes, you’re talking recent commercial news.

You look into your own pixelated face babbling back at you on screen. You have no idea if you’re saying the right things or if anyone will ever watch this. Most likely, you think, an AI will compare your body language to people already employed at PWC, or HIJ, wait, what company was this for again?

Anyway, the AI, it’s looking for minute correlations in speech patterns, subject matter, presentation, do you ‘fit in’.

Probably not, you’re sitting on your bedroom floor with a shirt and tie on your top half and some Primark trackies from 2019 on your bottom half. Your toes have gone numb, you forgot to put on socks.

Prepped for the third round of video interviews today

11. The really uncomfortable telephone interview

You’re desperately shouting into the phone “I’m sorry I didn’t hear the last part of that question, you’re breaking up” to buy yourself time and hope they repeat the still incomprehensible question that you don’t know the answer to.

Don’t panic, you know the STAR structure and you’ve practised for this in the kitchen with your unwilling flatmate. You are so prepared.

12. The sheer depression kicks in

No one’s emailed you for days. The grad schemes on Target Jobs are drying up. Even Gwen from HR at that company that was terrible for the environment hasn’t sent you any new prompts for impossible tests.

Perhaps working is just not for you.

Perhaps just crawl back underneath the duvet today and hope your flatmate notices your impending doom and nips out to Saino’s to get you those chocolate cookies you like.

13. Everything’s at stake when you enter online assessment centre

Suddenly everything’s back on.

You’re catapulted into an online survival of the fittest. It’s like the Hunger Games of the job world.

You’re face-to-face with your competition, well screen-to-screen, and the adrenaline is pumping.

But, you’re being too quiet, you’re too in your head. Matthew two webcams down is already demonstrating his leadership skills by organising the group to attack the fictional business task and you don’t even understand what’s going on.

Yeah alright, pipe down Matthew, we can all see that dead fern in the lefthand corner of your Zoom background. How can you be expected to look after someone else’s money if you can’t even keep a fern alive?

Wait, did you just say that out loud?

14. Radio silence that goes on forever

They’ll “let you know”.

They’re out there, somewhere, the mysterious human resources department, assessing, comparing, tabulating the results.

They’re being awfully quiet.

They’re being awfully slow.

15. The long-anticipated results

An offer! Just for you! They want to pay you £15,000 to commute two hours out of London and work a 70-hour week making tea and “developing your commercial awareness”. You are SO HAPPY about it.

But wait, Ellie just got offered £35k to move to Hong Kong and take clients out for lunch every day. Why didn’t you apply to that?

Back to Target Jobs.

Celebrations are in order anyway

(For legal and future employability reasons I would like to stress this is a joke)