Congratulations to everyone graduating summer 2019. For some of you, today will feel a bit mixed, especially if you haven’t got the degree class you were hoping for. But let’s remember, getting your degree from LSE is a great achievement whatever the result!
Your degree class is a snapshot at a particular point in your life and will assume less importance over time. But with many employers asking for a 2:1 it’s easy to see why students do go into a bit of a panic! One of the questions we are often asked is ‘what impact will my degree class have on my career?’
But let’s look at the evidence. Having a 2:2 does not impact on your career success. For example, a report by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Graduate Labour Market Statistics published in April 2019 highlights only a 0.5% difference in employment between 2:1s and 2:2s.
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 immediate 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 among 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 re-evaluate 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 at the start but it will most definitely pay off in the end.
- Return to your CV. Are there other skills or sought-after competencies that you can highlight further 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. You could look at getting experience with a smaller company and find a way in later. It’s also important to know that once you are a graduate with several years experience, looking for your next career move, many of the 2.1 degree requirements no longer apply. Other ways in to these larger companies include looking at direct entry-level roles, rather than graduate schemes and programmes or 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, contact us at email@example.com to book a telephone or Skype appointment. You can also use the services for up to five years from your course completion date.
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. Many of the graduate schemes listed here are currently closed and likely re-opening later in the summer or towards the start of the next academic year. The list isn’t exhaustive, entry requirements can change and 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’re seeing moves to more flexibility. For example, PwC 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.
- Public Sector
Degree class requirements are often not specified in the public sector. On the Civil Service Fast Stream streams including Generalist, Human Resources, Operational Research and Commercial 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, MI5 Intelligence Officer Development Programme, Care Quality Commission, The National Government Development Programme (NGDP) management scheme for local authorities 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 . Others include 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 IT, marketing risk, finance and commercial with many schemes open to graduates with a 2:2. Centrica also accepts 2:2’s if you have a relevant master’s. In the transport sector, EasyJet doesn’t specify degree class and Network Rail accept 2:2s on schemes including strategy, business IT, project and general management.
- 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 and Kingfisher Group (B&Q/Screwfix). There’s a comprehensive list of retailers and their requirements on Targetjobs.
In addition, here is another list of 30 graduate schemes accepting a 2:2 compiled by the careers app Debut.
Remember LSE Careers is open all summer for one-to-one appointments where you can discuss career options and more. Good luck!