Graduate placement programmes: alternative opportunities for Irish graduates

Graduate programmes that offer work experience and qualifications: what’s involved and how to get hired.

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If you have left university without obtaining a permanent graduate job, there is another way to get valuable, paid work experience: through the graduate programmes run by government or industry bodies. There are various schemes available, but all are paid placements intended to fast-track graduates onto the career ladder. They generally include a postgraduate qualification as well as a foothold into an interesting industry or career sector.

Although these placement are of a fixed duration, they can be a highly effective pathway to permanent employment. For example, 85 per cent of graduates on IntertradeIreland’s FUSION programme have been offered a full-time position with the host company at the end of the programme. Similarly, over 88 per cent of graduates on IBEC’s Global Graduates programme have been retained by the companies where they did their placement.

As with all graduate vacancies, you need to be aware of how best to approach these and how to make a successful application.

IBEC’s Global Graduate Programme

IBEC's Global Graduate Programme is Ireland’s longest running graduate placement programme. The programme focuses on giving graduates practical in-company experience in an international business environment and, like FUSION, combines academic study with work placement.

  • Who for: open to graduates of all disciplines but best suited to those who aspire to a career in international business.
  • Where: graduates are matched with companies seeking to strengthen their international marketing or export business.
  • How long: placements are typically 12 months, with at least six months spent abroad.
  • Qualifications: participants complete an MSc in International Business.
  • When to apply: EOP is usually only open for applications to be made in January and February each year.

You can find out more about Ibec's Global Graduate Programme at .

How to get onto the Global Graduates Programme

The selection process includes the following stages:

  1. An online application system.
  2. An interview with the Global Graduates panel. These are 30 minutes long and competency-based.
  3. If you are successful in this interview, you will be placed on the Programme shortlist.
  4. You will then be matched to one or more companies who are participating in the programme.
  5. You will be interviewed by these companies (some sponsor companies require graduates to do a presentation) and ultimately successfully matched.

The key thing in this programme is to get through to the Programme shortlist – so you need to demonstrate outstanding ability in your area of study and an interest in international business. From there, the Global Graduate team will put you forward for interviews with sponsor companies which are relevant to your skill set and experience, to check fit and discuss the work programme.

Application form tips

The Global Graduates programme values work experience, language skills, a driver’s licence and participation in research projects highly, so make sure you promote any experience you have in these areas.

Interview tips

  • Show you have the ability to mix in and be part of a team – the more you demonstrate your ability to communicate, work collaboratively and show flexibility and a ‘can-do’
  • attitude, the easier it will be for Ibec's panel to match you to a client company.
  • Make sure you have prepared and that it is clear you have done your research.
  • Dress smartly. For this particular programme, where you will be representing companies (and your country) abroad, appearances matter.

Enterprise Ireland’s Grad Start programme

Like their previous Global Graduate Programme, the Grad Start programme is based on driving business for indigenous Irish companies. On this programme, graduates work on defined projects related to companies’ growth plans in an overseas market. They also undertake study in conjunction with their work.

  • Who for: open to graduates of all disciplines, particularly those interested in a career in international business.
  • Where: overseas offices of Irish companies.
  • How long: 12 months.
  • Qualifications: Diploma in International Growth from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
  • When to apply: applications are usually made in the spring and summer months.

You can find out more about G4IG by visiting .

How to get onto the Grad Start Programme

To get on the programme, you must have at least a 2:2 degree.

The process for acceptance on the G4IG programme is:

  1. an online application
  2. online tests
  3. an assessment centre
  4. an interview with companies to whom your skills have been matched.

If your online application is successful you will be sent a link to take a series of online tests. These will test your aptitude and personal preferences in a number of areas. These tests are used for two purposes – to decide whether your application will be progressed to the next stage and (in conjunction with your online application) to match you to a host company.

Application form tips

The online application includes question relating to your willingness to travel to various locations and other personal preferences, so make sure you take your time filling this out. If you are successful in the rest of the process, these answers will play an important part in matching you to participating companies.

Assessment centre tips

At the assessment centre you will undertake a series of exercises both as an individual and in groups. These will be used to see how you work collaboratively within a team, how you communicate, and also give you the chance to demonstrate your individual strengths. There will be a presentation and an interview on the day, so make sure you prepare for those.

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