FirstGroup Graduate Scheme

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Ivo

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First of all: I hope this is the right place to ask this; if not, please accept my apologies!

Over the last three months, I have been recommended by a number of FirstGroup employees, including one who is quite far up the corporate ladder, to apply for the company's Graduate Scheme upon completing my Degree next year.

Thinking about all of the different options I have had whilst growing up, and how this does make perfect sense, I am seriously considering it. But there are a few things I am uncertain about that I would like to try asking you guys in the vain hope that someone may have followed this route before. At this stage though, I don't know if I would follow the bus route or the train route, but not in an engineering capacity. Thank you in advance!

  • First of all, has anyone does this before, and if yes, what was your opinion of it? Is it difficult? Is it worth it?
  • How does the Interview process work? What am I likely to be asked about?
  • What prior work and/or study should I look into undertaking?
  • What kind of material and/or work is involved?
  • Is it a major issue if I don't hold a driving licence?
  • Is not having a transport-based Degree likely to be a problem?
  • Are First keen on candidates who actually know a lot about the field and the company beforehand?
  • Are there any areas of the business that a candidate would be likely to find themselves, or is staying close to home likely?
  • And is there anything else you would like to add or suggest?
I have already looked at the website, so I have some understanding, but would hope that someone here can provide an alternative assessment of the scheme.

Thank you for your time and assistance! :)
 
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142094

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I've talked to a few people who have been on the First scheme and they said it wasn't what they expected - and to me it didn't sound very good. However that was their opinion and of course others will have a different one.

Interview processes are normally very similar from company to company, usually give details about your employment history, why you want to work for the company, what you know about its operations, then questions such starting like "tell me a time you have done x,y,z", such as work in a team, work on your own, worked under pressure, to targets etc. You no doubt will also have some sort of numerical and verbal reasoning tests, usually SHL papers. Have a search for what they are.

I don't know what degree you are doing, but IIRC First have an engineering grad scheme then the normal management one. Obviously for the engineering one you need an engineering degree. For the basic management one you don't need a specific degree, but need to show how your skills can be transferred. In any case you will be up against people who have done undergrad and postgrad degrees, with many either doing business management or something transport-related.

The lack of a driving licence is an issue, as you will be expected to be able to get between depots and offices. You will also probably be located away from your home area, I know for the Stagecoach UK Bus you are not allowed to stay in your home town and may move as far away as Aberdeen or Dover. You also don't get to pick where you are placed - I'm assuming First are the same, although it would be better to ask them to confirm.
 

telstarbox

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I would add:

You obviously have a great amount of knowledge about transport/buses - this is an advantage but think carefully about how you would present this in the application process.

At no point should you slag off other companies/vehicles/bus routes you don't like - be professional

Graduate schemes for large companies generally expect willingness to relocate on your part and it may be one of the first questions they ask.

and lastly if you do apply - good luck!
 

142094

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From memory the scheme doesn't open until late in the year so you've got plenty of time to prepare for an application.
 

Simon11

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I'm not an expert on the scheme but have worked with a graduate on the scheme.

During the two years you get to work for lots of different departments and companies around the UK, thus building up network contacts and experience. However it does mean you could be in Plymouth for 3 months, move to London for 6 months and then Aberdeen for 4 months, so lots of jumping around in two years. However you do get well paid for a graduate scheme.

I feel it's also worth pointing out that getting on a graduate scheme isn't the only way to work up the ladder! For me personally, I feel that I have moved to a more senior position, than I would have ever got with a graduate scheme; after only one year from leaving university. Additionally I have the experience of working with a few TOC's/ Organisations, unlike just spending the whole time with First Group (Note I did a placement with a TOC for a year as well if your trying to do the maths).

Its also worth considering how First Group could change in a year or two. If First Group fail to win any new franchises in the next few years, they could easily be the next National Express...... and their bus divsion isn't performing too well.

Drop me a pm if you have any questions :)
 

Mojo

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I applied for FirstGroup's rail operations graduate scheme and was offered a place at the assessment centre but turned it down before I went as I was offered a position at the best railway company in the country.

Unlike other schemes which I'd applied for there were no numerical/verbal reasoning tests (those most commonly used are done by SHL as 142094 alludes to).

I applied way before the deadline and had a telephone interview before applications had even closed. A few weeks after applications closed I was invited to an assessment centre at Warwick University which wasn't due to be held until April. Unlike others I was not asked to prepare a presentation or discussion topic, so I've no idea what it would have included but would imagine that it would be fairly similar to others (group meeting and interviews).

I was told that should the assessment centre be passed then a further, final, interview would be held with senior management.
 
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