Graduate programmes offer a clear route into industry

With the number and breadth of graduate programmes on offer for the class of 2018, there has probably never been a better time to graduate

By immersing graduates in a company’s culture, they are more likely to stay on. Photograph: iStock

By immersing graduates in a company’s culture, they are more likely to stay on. Photograph: iStock


The 2018 gradireland recruitment awards ceremony had a record number of submissions – the growth in the number of companies starting graduate programmes, or re-introducing schemes that folded during the recession, could be seen as a sign of an improving economic climate.

Training and development graduate programmes may be resource-intensive ventures, but by immersing graduates in a company’s culture, they are more likely to stay on. The following is a selection of Ireland’s leading graduate recruitment firms.


Professional services firm KPMG is dedicated to developing the careers of the best and brightest talent from Irish universities.

With 300 places available in its award-winning graduate programme, the firm is looking for applications from the best and brightest third-level talent. The firm welcomes applications from business students but also from a variety of disciplines – from engineering to science, law to arts.

When graduates join KPMG, they go straight into a three-month training programme which introduces the trainees to the firm and brings them all to a similar level of expertise.

“We’re Ireland’s largest private-sector recruiter of graduates, so as you might imagine, we have a major programme of learning and development in place to meet our clients’ needs,” says Paul Vance, head of resourcing for KPMG in Ireland,

“There are several routes career-wise into KPMG – for example our award-winning internship programme. This is a really good way for people to learn more about what we do and gives us a great opportunity to meet those who might like to join our teams.

“We get a lot of very positive feedback about our internship programme known as “Live. Learn. Evolve.” Essentially, this recognises the need for continuous development and ranges from the latest technical training to broader issues of interest such as personal development, motivation and even topical matters such as health and nutrition.”

Public jobs

The Civil Service is one of the biggest graduate recruiters in Ireland, with more than 200 graduates joining the organisation each year.

A huge diversity of roles is on offer, and graduates from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

“The Civil Service is looking for people with the potential to take on high-level responsibilities in the management of public services and the analysis of public policy issue,” says Michelle Noone of the Public Appointments Service, the independent centralised recruitment, assessment and selection body for the Civil and Public Service.

“Graduates in the Civil Service have a real opportunity to make an impact quite early in their careers, while working on a broad range of challenging issues. There are very few places where you will have such a great opportunity to shape the future of our society,” says Cillian McBride from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, who heads up the Civil Service Graduate Development Programme.


This year, PwC has more than 330 graduates joining across all business areas in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford.

The firm, which has more than 223,000 people working in 157 countries, offers graduates the opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

“We are a people-led organisation and our values are at the centre of everything we do. We recruit top talent from all backgrounds, courses and disciplines so that we can continue to make PwC a great, innovative and diverse place to work. This year, we had a record number of applications for our graduate programme, with an increase of 79 per cent,” says Sarah Madigan, PwC graduate recruitment lead.

“Our graduate programme is really well structured, with lots of flexibility to meet the individual needs of each graduate. Empowering our people to achieve a good work-life balance is important and we put a lot of effort into this.We have a huge focus on passing the professional qualifications and ensuring our graduates have full support to achieve this.”


Winner of the award for best training and development programme for professional services at the gradireland awards, EY offers graduates an array of benefits such as a dedicated in-house exam support team and significant study leave.

Dermot Daly, partner sponsor for recruitment, EY Ireland, says: “We were delighted to be announced as winners at this year’s gradireland awards once again. Ensuring we have the best talent in the market working for EY is a huge priority for us.

“In line with our market-leading growth, and with an increasing number of new clients coming on board, the scale of opportunity at EY for new joiners is second to none. Last year alone, more than 30 per cent of our employees were promoted or progressed, demonstrating that we place a real focus on ensuring our people are always growing and taking that next step on the career ladder.”


Winner of the graduate employer of the year at the gradireland awards, Deloitte has opportunities for students from all academic disciplines, including accounting, arts, business, law, science, technology, engineering and maths.

The company is a significant recruiter of graduates, and over the last year has recruited for more than 300 graduate and undergraduate opportunities.

Roles range across a number of service areas including audit and assurance, risk advisory, corporate finance, tax services and consulting services. Deloitte technology programmes also include a number of graduate positions in cyber risk, Deloitte Digital, information management and analytics, and systems integration.

“Our focus is on developing leadership capabilities in all our people and giving them the chance to experience and realise the careers they aspire to. Our programme allows graduates to grow with us and achieve their career goals,” says Deloitte’s chief human resources officer Orla Graham .


One of the most successful graduate programmes in Ireland, the Jameson International Graduate Programme has been producing significant results for both the participants and the company for 26 years, according to head of Jameson International Graduate Programme Sinéad D’Arcy.

The three-year programme has a typical intake of between 25 and 30 graduates, and recruits are dispersed across the globe to help augment the foothold of the group’s flagship product in both emerging and existing markets.

In 2017, the Jameson International Graduate Programme welcomed 40 new graduates – a record in the long history of the prestigious programme. Today, there are 94 brand ambassadors based in 47 markets across the world.

“There is no doubt that the Jameson International Graduate Programme, which was established in 1991, has played an integral role in the international success of Jameson. The programme is unique in offering graduates the opportunity to work with a uniquely Irish brand abroad and grow it globally in established and emerging markets, including new markets such as Chile, Mexico, Malaysia and Ghana,” says D’Arcy.



At Musgrave, the graduate programme has a proven track record in providing a strong pipeline of people who have gone on to be future leaders, holding roles from director to marketing manager to head of Musgrave Business Services. A common thread from the graduate employers is that your degree type is not the be all and end all, something Musgrave echos.

The company welcomes all degree backgrounds with a 2:1 honours degree as the minimum criteria.

Early Careers Manager Siobháin Scanlon says the company’s core values are: not being greedy, honesty, working hard and achievement.

She says they’re looking for graduates with a digital mindset to encourage transformation in the business and graduates who want contribute to a culture of development and innovation.

“Formal development is provided through our bespoke development programme run in conjunction with the Irish Management Institute which is aligned to the strategic business direction and linked to their performance review,” she says,

Coaching of graduates is also provided on an informal basis – graduate managers are provided with coaching tools and mentoring skills through purpose-driven workshops.