Congratulations to everyone graduating summer 2016. Getting your degree from LSE is a great achievement whatever the result! One of the questions we are asked, particularly at this time of year, is ‘what impact my degree class will have on my career?’ Obviously not everyone gets a 2:1 or above so what about the 30% of you graduating with a 2:2?
With many employers asking for a 2:1 it’s easy to see why some students are sent into a bit of a panic! In the long term, having a 2:2 does not impact on your career success. For example, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (2013-14) shows the percentages for those in full-time employment six months after graduation is almost exactly the same for those with firsts, 2:1s and 2:2s. A report by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Graduate Labour Market Statistics published in April 2016 highlights a 0.3 difference in employment.
However in the here and now you may find yourself worrying about your career prospects. It’s important to remember you’re not alone. There are plenty of options if your plan A doesn’t work out because your degree still has great value. The reality is that some of you may have to change some of your aspirations and mind-set and it may take you a bit longer – but with determination you will achieve your goal. But if the idea of getting on a graduate scheme still appeals then there’s a list of schemes that accept a 2:2 at the bottom of this post.
Suggestions for what to think about and do as you plan your next move
- Make any calls you have to. If you have a conditional offer, let prospective employers know the deal as soon as possible. The sooner you do it, the easier it is for them to make the necessary arrangements. If you impressed them at interview there’s always a chance you’ll still be able to join their team.
- Take time out. Detach yourself from the intensity of it all and spend time by yourself, with a friend or family member. Sat amongst peers who have perhaps met their expected grades doesn’t always help you focus and can panic you unnecessarily. Instead, with a calmer and refreshed mind-set and having taken some more objective advice you can come back and look at your options more effectively.
- Gather positive feedback and academic referrals, along with any other awards or certificates that point to an otherwise impressive and consistent academic record. These could serve you well should you need to attend further/new interviews and defend your grades. Reminding yourself of what you can achieve academically will also help you come across as confident in any meetings.
- Go back to your Plan B if need be. If you didn’t have one, try and recall the other companies/organisations/locations you were considering when you first started the job search. Are these options still viable now?
- Conduct a quick SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunity, threats) analysis. Think of what you do really well, where the gaps in your experience are and so on. It’s the perfect time go ‘back to the drawing board’ and remember what you do well in order to move the job search forward. Although it might not seem so now, unexpected results could be an opportunity for you to revaluate your direction and determine what you really want to do.
- Get things into perspective. Remember, this is most likely just a blip. Despite having a potential impact on your immediate career plans, you do have your whole life to build up a career for yourself and this shouldn’t change your long-term career goals. You may need to work harder than your peers but it will most definitely pay off in the end.
- Return to your CV. Are there soft skills or sought-after competencies that you can further bring out on your CV? Remember that employers are often on the lookout for team workers with practical problem-solving and communication skills; abilities that can be demonstrated very well through work experience or extra-curricular activities.
- Think laterally. If the standard graduate programmes aren’t bringing up anything worth pursuing, explore more niche, smaller, potentially entrepreneurial setups that often don’t specify degree classification. Network, send off speculative applications and follow up on leads. Be prepared for rejections, this is normal, but keep focused and don’t give up.
- Explore further study. This may an opportunity to prove your academic capacities and study something you are really passionate about. But do further study for the right reasons. You’ll need to ensure that what hindered you from reaching your desired grades now won’t crop up again. Remember too that in many cases a master’s degree won’t compensate for poor grades: recruiters often don’t differentiate between undergraduates and postgraduates. If further study seems like an attractive option, do research your options thoroughly whether for master’s or PhD level.
- Think longer term. If you can’t get into the graduate employer you want to, don’t despair. Look at getting experience with a smaller company and find a way in later. Also look at direct entry-level roles, rather than graduate schemes and programmes. Alternatively you could look at getting experience via a temping route.
- Visit LSE Careers. Remember LSE Careers is open all summer for one-to-one appointments where you can discuss career options and more. If you’re not in London, get in touch to book a telephone or Skype appointment. You can also use the services for up to five years from your course completion date.
We’re running two seminars on results resilience on Wednesday 13 July and Thursday 14 July – booking is open. It’ll be an open Q&A format where we’ll offer advice for managing your feelings of disappointment as well as tips to be ‘results resilient’ and turn your situation into a positive.
If you’re thinking about applying for a graduate scheme, below are some that accept 2:2s. Please note: graduate schemes only make up between 10–20% of all graduate jobs and the 2:2 requirement may only apply to certain schemes. The list isn’t exhaustive and so it’s important to do your own research to find others.
Banking and finance
While the Big 4 accountancy and professional services firms generally have high entry requirements we are seeing moves to more flexibility. For example a number of Deloitte’s schemes are open to graduates with a 2:2 if candidates have sufficient UCAS points. The PWC (inspired talent programme) allows candidates to highlight non-academic achievements. EY has recently removed degree classification from their entry requirements; you must simply be studying for an honours degree. Grant Thornton will also consider candidates with a 2:2 if you can show that ‘you’ve been busy doing amazing things in your personal or professional life.’ Some retail banks and insurance companies also accept 2:2s. RBS will for some schemes including their Business Technology and Operations schemes. In insurance and reinsurance Crawford do not appear to specify degree class. Likewise XLCatlin Group Limited have previously accepted 2:2s across a range of graduate programmes including finance and actuarial.
Degree class requirements are often not specified in the public sector. On the Civil Service Fast Stream the Generalist, Human Resources, European and Northern Ireland streams all require a minimum of 2:2. The Government Social Research Scheme will accept a 2:2 with a relevant postgraduate qualification. As do the following: NHS Management (finance, general management, HR), HMRC, London Treasurers graduate finance scheme, European Fast Stream, MI5 Intelligence Officer Development Programme, Care Quality Commission, and the Local Authority Finance Scheme.
Offering graduate training schemes in business areas including IT, commercial, finance, procurement, sales, HR, general management, marketing and supply chain, a number of industry sectors and employers are open to applications from graduates with a 2:2. Companies include: Jaguar Land Rover, P&G, Unilever, BT – some technical schemes or with a relevant postgraduate degree, Kerry, Nestle (2:2 with master’s). Gist has schemes including IT, European Management and Operational Management. Siemens has a range of business schemes some of which accept 2:2s, as do Accenture’s Client Delivery and Software Engineering graduate programmes.
In the energy sector companies like Npower, Scottish Power and NationalGrid have graduate schemes covering areas including risk, finance and commercial. Stagecoach also has some general management graduate schemes open to graduates with a 2:2. EasyJet don’t specify degree class and Network Rail accept 2:2s on schemes including strategy, business IT, project and general management. Centrica also accept 2:2’s if you have a relevant master’s.
Retail and Sales
Many retailers do not specify requirements and accept 2:2s for both functional specialisms like finance, as well as general management. Examples include: John Lewis (retail management), Mitchells and Butler (various), Arcadia (buying, merchandising, finance, digital), TKMaxx (merchandising, business IT, finance), Enterprise Rent-a-Car (finance and general management), Debenhams, Marks and Spencer (retail management), and Kingfisher Group (B&Q). There’s a comprehensive list of retailers and their requirements on Targetjobs.