Training Programs for College Graduates

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Firms in many industries have structured programs and pathways to train college graduates. If you're a college senior or have recently graduated, these training programs designed specifically for college grads can be an excellent way to launch your career. 

Industries with College Graduate Training Programs

Just name an industry or field, and it likely has a training program available, including: 

  • Arts
  • Computer and Internet Technology
  • Construction
  • Consumer Products
  • Consulting 
  • Energy
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion 
  • Government
  • Health
  • Hospitality
  • Human Resources
  • Insurance
  • Information Technology
  • Finance
  • Media
  • Media Research
  • Medical Products
  • Public Relations
  • Publishing
  • Retail
  • Sports
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation 

Functional Training Programs

Common functional training programs are available in sales, retail management, operations, merchandising, research, analysis, human resources, project management, marketing, engineering, information technology, actuarial science, and underwriting.

What Employers Seek in Leading Candidates

Qualifications and requirements will vary greatly by company and functional area, but there are some common themes worth considering. 

For management training positionsleadership ability is valued. This can be demonstrated through previous productive roles with campus clubs and organizations, academic project teams, athletics, and/or internship projects.

For analytically oriented or research positions, employers favor candidates with a strong record of academic rigor and achievement. Rigor can be evidenced by advanced courses and theses. 

For finance, engineering, and quantitative areas of consulting, employers look for a strong background in mathematics as documented by quantitative coursework, academic projects, jobs, and campus roles.

For sales, perspective trainee applicants should be prepared to show persuasive skillspresentation skills, finesse with difficult people, perseverance, and hard work. 

For fashion, candidates should display a personal flair for fashion and creativity. 

Strong writing skills and facility with technology are now almost universally sought across functional areas. Internships in related fields and a demonstrated interest in the field are also valued across the board.

How to Land Positions in Training Programs

Many organizations will recruit through the career services office on your campus, so contact them as early as possible during your college career to identify attractive targets.

Inquire about career fairs in which your college participates or those that are open to all college students, since many employers recruit through those events. Most organizations will also be open to online applications by candidates from schools where they do not recruit, so begin to assemble a list of these employers as well.

To find programs in your area of interest, also search online. Use keywords like "corporate training programs for college graduates" or "college management training program." 

Or, if you have a company you'd like to work for, check the career section of its corporate website for information on training programs.

Check for Company Internship Programs

Many employers now use their internship programs to test out prospects for their more permanent post-graduate positions; they may hire primarily from this pool of interns.

Consider pursuing some of these positions prior to your senior year if possible. Some of these internship programs are even open to seniors the summer after they graduate.

Be a Competitive Candidate

Many training programs are very selective. It can be difficult for the average candidate to avoid being screened out when recruiters review resumes and application materials. Of course, you should take great care to compose resumes and cover letters that are well written and make a strong case for your suitability for the program. Make sure that you have career services staff and other trusted advisers critique your resumes, letters, and essays. Also review these tips for what to do while you're in college to get a job after graduation.

Make Sure Your Application Materials Are Perfect

Even with very well-constructed documents, it can be hard for most candidates to stand out.

One way to gain additional visibility as a candidate is to reach out to staff at employers of interest through college alumni networks and contacts through family and friends.

Ask your career or alumni office for a list of contacts at your preferred employers. Assure them that you will contact these individuals for information and advice and will not solicit them directly for a job. Use these networking letter examples to get inspiration for your own correspondence.

You can also ask parents for a list of people who are close to the family, on holiday card lists, or who would be invited to a family wedding. Send a note to them with some updates on your life including your desire to work at your target employers. Ask if they might introduce you to any contacts which they have at any of the firms. Another good strategy is to scan your list of Facebook friends who might have graduated recently for some additional leads.

Use Your Connections

Informational consultations with your contacts will enable you to learn about their employer and various career fields as well as to obtain advice about the best way to land a position in their program. This advice might include feedback about your resume and cover letter. If you present yourself well, the contact might put in a good word with recruiters, which will enhance the likelihood that you will be awarded an interview.

Be Flexible

Don't limit yourself to an employer or two. The more programs you apply to, the better your chances of being accepted for a training program.