Programmes offering graduates a route into industry

Graduates are well-positioned for jobs in policy, research, business and administration in the public and private sectors

Dedicated graduate programmes are increasingly important to recruitment and more companies are going down this route. The following is a selection of graduate programmes on offer to the class of 2018.

Civil Service

The Civil Service is now one of the biggest employers of graduates, with more than 200 annually taking up roles in diverse areas including the departments of Finance, Taoiseach, Public Expenditure and Reform, Health, and in the diplomatic stream in Foreign Affairs.

They also join as trainee auditors in the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General, and graduate economists in the Government’s Economic and Evaluation Service.


The Civil Service has opportunities for people from different disciplines and backgrounds. As the business, economic and social environment becomes more complex and demanding, there is an increasing need to ensure a wider range of skills is available within departments and offices.

Graduate roles include administrative officer, third secretary in the diplomatic stream of the Department of Foreign Affairs and graduate economists.

Gerald Harty from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform says there is an increasing focus on cross-Government collaboration on the graduate programme. "It provides a unique opportunity for graduates to work across traditional departmental boundaries, gaining insights and experience of the work and challenges faced across the Civil Service. In doing so, participants establish valuable networks at an early stage which they can rely on throughout their career in the Civil Service."

This year's graduate campaign is expected to open towards the end of September 2018, on

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox is one of Ireland's leading corporate law firms, employing more than 750 people, including partners, associates, trainees and support staff.

Its 2½-year trainee programme combines a comprehensive learning and development programme, on-the-job and group-specific training and culminates in professional qualification through the Law Society.

The company is aiming to hire 50 trainee solicitors this year.

Trainees rotate through five departments, giving them the opportunity to have the broadest experience possible.

They share an office with a partner or senior associate, giving them exposure to high-profile clients and deals and allowing them to learn from the experts and build connections.

Graduate recruitment manager Eimear Power says the majority of its graduates have traditionally tended to come from law courses.

“However, we need our lawyers to be legal experts and business advisers so strong commercial acumen is as important as legal knowledge. We recognise the benefit of having graduates from a variety of academic backgrounds, not just law. It adds a different perspective and approach and complements our rich and dynamic culture. The challenge for us as a firm is to engage with and attract these graduates who may not have previously considered a legal career. We have a number of trainees who studied subjects such as business, music, psychology, literature and we even have a future trainee who is studying astrophysics,” says Power.

Aldi Graduate Area Manager Training Programme

Aldi is one of Ireland’s fastest growing supermarkets and every year it looks for graduates to join its Graduate Area Manager Training Programme. This programme promises to deliver training which fosters and nurtures capability and confidence so that graduates can accelerate their careers.

The Aldi Graduate Area Manager Training Programme is built entirely around graduates. It offers a starting salary of €61,000 rising to €99,600 after four years’ training, development and secondment opportunities. Graduates need a 2:1 in any discipline or to be on track to get a 2:1 degree and hold a full driving licence.

Giles Hurley, chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland says: "As a business, we fully recognise the importance of continued investment in the best graduates to help grow our business further. Hence we place a very strong emphasis on the training and development of our people."

Jameson – Irish Distillers

Irish Distillers recruits 30 graduates to the Jameson International Graduate Programme each year. They will represent Jameson as brand ambassadors in markets such as France, Chile, Mexico, China and South Africa.

Jameson offers graduates the opportunity to develop business leadership skills with a globally successful Irish brand, supported by Irish Distillers’ and Pernod Ricard’s international network.

Sinéad D’Arcy, head of the Jameson International Graduate Programme, says: “Our brand ambassadors are at the coal-face of our international growth, driving brand awareness while developing their own skill-set through the programmes, award-winning training and development offering. We are looking for creative, innovative, resilient graduates who enjoy working autonomously. Ultimately, we are looking for candidates with serious character,” she says.

The three-year programme includes two international rotations and is open to applicants from all degree types. Some 80 per cent of graduates on the programme speak an international language such as French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.

ICSA: The Governance Institute

If you are seeking a challenging, varied role that puts you on a direct route to the boardroom, then consider a career in governance as a company secretary or chartered governance professional. Ensuring organisations operate legally, appropriately, ethically and fairly, this is a position where graduates can have influence. There are great opportunities to work in-house, for a professional services firm or in public practice and performing a governance/company secretarial role.

The broad skillset (knowledge of law, finance, governance, regulation, risk, strategy, boardroom dynamics and corporate secretarial practice) is transferable so it is possible to work across sectors, as well as internationally.

If you have no prior knowledge of a business environment, ICSA's Foundation Programme will provide you with the core knowledge of governance and how it works in practice. Graduates will earn a foundation certificate at level 4 and allow them to progress to the next level of study on ICSA's core qualifying programme.

"The ICSA qualifying programme is a highly valued and internationally recognised qualification that leads to chartered status and shows that you have the knowledge, skills and experience required to lead good governance in your organisation. The qualifying programme, or our MSc in management and corporate governance with the University of Ulster, is a great option for law graduates looking to do something more diverse than working as a solicitor or barrister or for a better work-life balance and greater responsibility and influence earlier in their career," says Ruairí Cosgrove, president of ICSA Ireland.

Apply for a Fulbright Award to study or research in the USA

The Fulbright Commission in Ireland annually awards grants for Irish citizens to study, research, or teach in the US and for Americans to do the same in Ireland. The 2019-2020 Fulbright Irish Awards application period is now open with a deadline of November 6th, 2018.

Successful candidates receive a monetary grant, accident and emergency insurance, visa administration, cultural and professional programming, and an introduction to a vast international professional and academic network. The awards are open to all disciplines.

The Fulbright Commission in Ireland also partners with a number of Irish agencies to offer funding in the areas of health, museum studies, geoscience, marine studies, business innovation, law, agriculture, environmental protection and Irish language.

Executive director of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland Dr Dara FitzGerald says they seek applications from all disciplines to encourage diversity. "There are some fantastic new opportunities for the 2019-2020 Irish awards cycle, including the Fulbright-TechImpact Cybersecurity Awards at Georgetown University and Boston College. Notre Dame Law School and Indiana University Maurer School of Law are now offering Fulbright awardees a full waiver for their LLM masters of law programmes – fees would usually reach up to $60,000. I strongly encourage students, researchers and professionals from all disciplines to apply!"

Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme

The Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme offers graduates on-the-job training and a blended-learning approach.

Recruits can expect one-to-one mentoring with a director in the business, competency assessment days to learn about management style and how to work better with others, training opportunities from the in-house training catalogue and masterclasses with internal business experts.

“Our graduate training plan is bespoke, depending on your current skills and career path. Our exciting 18-month Graduate Management Development Programme consists of several different areas which will give you a full understanding of our business. You will also spend some time in our stores and warehouses to gain a thorough understanding of the key business areas before entering your chosen department,” says Evanna McGrath, graduate programme manager.

“We’re looking for a 2.1 degree, flexibility, self-motivation, strong interpersonal skills, work experience and a full driver’s licence,” she adds.

Applications close on October 31st, 2018.