Programmes offering graduates a route into industry

A selection of firms recruiting graduates and what they are looking for in their hires

Irish Management Institute Graduate Programme

The Irish Management Institute offers a general graduate programme, to consortia programmes (where companies come together and create a cohort of graduates), to custom graduate programmes. Across all types, it has about 200 graduates coming through the programmes in 2019.

The graduates typically come straight from academia, and it’s often their first job, so the graduate programmes are all about action learning – transferring what they learn into action in the workplace.

The first half of the programme is very much about self-awareness and mindset changes – how you manage yourself, build resilience, examining your leadership capabilities – while the second half is much more focused on the commercial side – from presentation skills to managing change.


While the graduates may not get international experience from the programme itself, many of the companies have international reach and programmes for graduates to work abroad. The IMI says it is looking for graduates who are curious. It adds it’s not necessarily the people with the highest grades, but the people who show they can develop across a wide variety of disciplines. With the shelf-life of skills reducing all the time, what it is really looking for is people who can develop and be comfortable with change.


The three-year programme, which is now in its 28th year, is aimed at driven graduates with “serious ambition” and offers experience in a marketing role, in one of more than 50 countries.

A competitive benefits package; a training and development programme; and a global support network will be available to those on the programme.

More than 400 graduates have completed the programme since it was established in 1991 and applications are encouraged from all disciplines, so a marketing or business background is not essential.

The programme provides graduates with the resources to establish the brand in emerging markets or accelerate the brand’s growth in an established one, while building professional confidence and competence.

The 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.


Every year PwC takes on more than 300 graduates across assurance, tax, risk assurance and consulting in its offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford. It recruits students from a wide range of degree disciplines. In addition to receiving a record number of applications in 2018, PwC introduced a gamified psychometric test as part of the graduate recruitment process. Applicants were given the opportunity to showcase their strengths, abilities and personality through an online game created solely for its graduate programme. PwC says it is committed to becoming Ireland's most tech-enabled firm and to make the application process much less "scary" and more engaging and innovative. Graduates joining PwC are given industry-leading coaching and full support to obtain their professional accreditation.


The Aldi graduate programme is open to graduates from all disciplines who have achieved a minimum 2.1 degree. Its current team of area managers have very different educational backgrounds, with diverse disciplines such as law, theatre studies, business and sociology. The programme is built around diverse on-the-job learning and training, supplemented by a structured series of courses focusing on logistics, company law, human resources and much more. As Aldi is a global retailer with thousands of stores across Europe, the US, Australia and, most recently, China, it offers international secondment opportunities to the most capable graduates, giving them the chance to take their personal and professional development up a gear. It is seeking graduates and final-year students. It offers a starting salary of €61,000 rising to €99,600 after four years' training, development and secondment opportunities. Aldi personnel development manager Hannah Condron says: "We wouldn't be this successful in Ireland without recruiting strong-minded, brave people to share our ambitions. We do have quite a specific culture. It's well-managed, efficient and everyone works in harmony with a combined sense of purpose. Responsibilities are crystal clear, and everyone knows what's expected of them."


Musgrave is a food retail and wholesale company with brands including SuperValu, Centra, Daybreak and Frank and Honest. The programme recruits graduates for careers in buying/trading, finance, marketing, supply chain, innovation, IT, omnichannel, operations and HR. It's a two-year programme for all functions except finance, which is three years. Graduates work with experienced managers in their fields and have real responsibility from the start. They are supported by a customised development programme run in conjunction with the Irish Management Institute. Graduates will rotate within the function while on the programme. Buying graduates will work in both a retail buying division and a wholesale/foodservices division over the two years to give them full exposure of key experiences to develop their commercial ability.

In 2018, the Musgrave Graduate Programme was also awarded the "Best Talent Development Initiative" award at the Irish Institute of Training and Development National Training Awards. Last year, Musgrave graduate Ross Kerrigan won the "Graduate Employee of the Year" award at the 2018 gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards and has progressed to a retail project manager role in his division.

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 a professional qualification through the Law Society.

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

They get to share an office with a partner or senior associate, giving them invaluable exposure to high profile clients and deals, allowing them to learn from the experts and build life-long connections. Trainees are also offered a €5,000 education bursary which they can use to pay for a course of their choice.Graduates are recruited from all disciplines, not just law. Trainees have studied music, history, politics, English literature, journalism, languages, mathematics, space science and psychology. Trainees also have the opportunity to do a rotation in the company's London office, where the firm provides accommodation in close proximity to the office. It also has offices in Belfast, New York and Silicon Valley.


German retailer Lidl is looking for candidates who are adaptable to change and want to thrive in a fast-paced environment. It is looking for candidates with a 2.1 level 8 honours degree in any discipline. Training and development is given to graduates throughout the programme and graduates hit the ground running by learning about the business by spending time in its stores, warehouses and the head office. They also receive one-to-one coaching, structured mentoring and competency assessment days. There is no specific cut-off for the number of graduates hired every year and it looks for graduates with soft skills such as strong communication skills, organisation and problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial skills. Recent disciplines the company has hired from include marketing, human resources, accounting, law and sales.


KPMG is one of the largest graduate employers in the country, recruiting 350 graduates annually to join its offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast.

On starting with KPMG, graduates participate in an intensive induction training programme for up to 10 weeks. This involves classroom learning, where graduates receive technical, professional and leadership skills training. Additionally, the graduates receive integrated on-the-job training which enables them to kick-start their career. The training continues after induction. KMPG hires from all disciplines including business, law, IT, maths, science, engineering, arts and more.

Graduates can participate in an international secondment programme called Global Mobility. The programme facilitates international secondments for durations from three months to four years. KMPG takes care of all the immigration, relocation and accommodation requirements for assignees, and when employees are ready to return to Ireland, their job is waiting for them.

KMPG looks to attract candidates who have strengths and skills in areas such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, communication, relationship building and more.

Graduates are supported with a mentorship programme so they learn from established business professionals. For those graduates studying their chartered accountancy exams, KPMG has the best exam results in the country, which is achieved through a comprehensive exam study programme.