[b]For a recent University graduate would you recommend a trainee program or a direct entry position?[/b]

I just finished University, have listened to the interview podcasts, prepared my documents and myself accordingly and have started to send out applications. I noticed that many larger corporations are steering graduates towards their trainee programs. I am unsure whether a trainee program or a direct entry position is the better choice.

Here is how I see the risks and opportunities of both:

[u]direct entry[/u]
- more challenging
- internally seen as "he knows what he wants"
- chance to progress quickly
- could get stuck in the wrong/boring position
- do not the corporation well, so potential for "wrong" choice higher
- forced to focus much more/bring career path in a certain direction

[u]trainee program[/u]
- chance to see various teams, aspects of the corporation, select positon
- schedule for a variety of projects already laid out
- internal "grooming" of trainees, well networked, good standing
- seen as "does not know what he wants"/"just a trainee"
- delays direct entry/career by 12-18 months with no other benefits

Am I right with these observations? What could be added?

I realize that this also depends on the corporation and the specific direct entry position/trainee program in question. But maybe we could develop some general advice like "a trainee program is better, if you have no internship experience" or "a direct entry is better, if your goal is to progress quickly".

I'm looking forward to reading your insights on this.

mstael31's picture
Training Badge


Do not underestimate the challenge of "trainee" programs! You may actually find it more strenuous than a "direct entry" position.

I would recommend the trainee program. I believe this more effectively prepares you for your next position. You get exposed to more of the company's operations and have an opportunity to really shine across different parts of the organization.

In my experience, companies establish trainee programs to groom their future leaders. You could do quite well for yourself in such a program.

Good luck!!


martinoriordan's picture

Hi Andreas,

I went through a similar decision process 2 years ago.

Another benefit of the trainee program is usually the additional training you receive.
As Mark said, I would rank a good graduate program as being far more strenuous / challenging then a “direct entry” position.

I’m coming to an end of my graduate program. Program is made up of three 8 month rotations in different functions and divisions. It can be challenging changing jobs ever 8 months. Every time I feel like I’m getting on top of a job, I have to move one.

While I’ve had experience working in quality, supply chain & engineering, a drawback is that I have not specialised. Which can be a good or bad thing depending on the circumstances.

I am confident that I chose the right option. It was the right option for me.
The decision is dependent on what you are looking for in terms of a job / career.

bflynn's picture

I recommend the trainee position. It will require more effort, but the payoff is better for your career. Trainee programs are fast track programs, so if you can get one, you're ahead.

THe work will be demanding. Only you know whether you'll thrive in that environment.


andreas's picture

martinoriordan, bflynn, mstael31, thank you for your replies!

I wanted to follow-up on this one:

After going through a series of interviews, I chose a trainee position and am confident that this is a fast-track path, as you said.

I used the manager tools interviewing series material. The offer I accepted came from my first graduate-level interview ever. Without the manager tools preparation, this would have been impossible! :-)