Training Programs for College Graduates

Copyright Jacob Wackerhausen

Even during the hardest of economic times employers need to source and groom new talent to take on management and professional roles at their organizations. Firms in a broad range of industries have structured programs and pathways to train college graduates. These programs are often an excellent way for recent college graduates to launch their career.

Industries With College Graduate Training Programs

Training programs exist in a very diverse range of fields and industries including entertainment, media, retail, insurance, finance, sports, arts, fashion, government, transportation, health, information technology, retail, consumer products, energy, medical products, pharmaceuticals, media research, public relations, computer and internet technology, consulting, human resources, telecommunications, hospitality, construction and publishing.

Search Google by the phrase "corporate training programs for college graduates" to obtain links to many of these opportunities.

Functional Areas for Programs

Common functional foci for training programs include sales, retail management, operations, merchandising, research, analysis, human resources, project management, marketing, engineering, information technology, actuarial 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 positions, demonstrated leadership ability is valued as documented through productive roles with campus clubs/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. Employers in finance, engineering and quantitative areas of consulting look for a strong background in mathematics as documented by quantitative coursework, academic projects, jobs and campus roles.

Prospective sales trainees should be prepared to demonstrate persuasive skills, presentation skills, finesse which difficult people, perseverance and hard work. Candidates for training in fashion should show 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 of these 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 those employers as well.

Check for Company Internship Programs

Many employers now use their internship programs to test out prospects for their more permanent post graduate positions and 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 and it can be difficult for the average candidate to avoid being screened out as recruiters review resumes and application materials. Of course, you should take great care to compose resumes and cover letters which are well written and make a strong case for your suitability for the program. Make sure that you have career staff and other trusted advisers critique your resumes, letters and essays.

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 target employers 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.

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. 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. The 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.

Read More: Tips for Attending a College Job Fair | How Start Your Job Search Early