Why did you apply for a graduate scheme?
Fresh out of university with a degree in marketing, I spent much of the following year wondering which direction I should take. (Side note: if you are at university and don’t know what you want to do afterwards, or you have finished and feel a bit lost, don't worry - most of us have been there). To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure what a graduate programme even was at first, and had no idea whether it would be for me. That is, until I started researching.
I found there are three main offerings that graduate schemes typically include:
a structured development plan
employment alongside a cohort of graduates (sociable vibes)
and a rotational programme to discover where your skills and passions lie
After coming across xDesign, I quickly discovered it delivered on all three counts. As well as this, their approach stood out from all other graduate schemes.
Every graduate gets their own mentor, their own manager, and a ‘buddy’, so new recruits have multiple avenues of direct support
All employees - regardless of title or seniority - get 6 days annually to use for self-development and an individual budget of £725 to spend on learning. For the graduate programme, this is topped with quarterly learning and development days
Despite being recruited onto a 12-month scheme, graduates actually hold a permanent role at xDesign, so a job afterwards is guaranteed
What was the process like from application to day one?
There were three stages to the hiring process: application, online interview, and Discovery Day.
I submitted my CV and cover letter and also answered a few further questions about myself and my desired discipline, which was an opportunity for me to show a bit more of my personality, skills and knowledge.
Within two days of hearing that my initial application had progressed to the next stage, I was invited to an online interview - not masses of time, although that turned out to be perfect (less chance to overthink!).
The thought of an interview is never nice, but I have to say; this one was as comfortable as it gets. The interview lasted about 30 minutes. The first half was mostly an opportunity to hear more about the company, which also allowed some time for my nerves to settle. There were then some interview questions - primarily situational ("tell me about a time when you…") with a few generic questions thrown in there too (”what could you bring to the company?”). The interviewer was warm and friendly, and nothing felt designed to throw me off.
I was so excited to be invited to the Discovery Day in Edinburgh soon after the interview (with travel and accommodation paid for!).
The Discovery Day replaces a typical assessment centre and involves two 45-minute interviews (one cultural and one marketing-based) and an observed group task. Of course, these things are naturally nerve-wracking, but you'll be glad to know it was a lot less scary than it sounds.
We were met with positive and kind team members as soon as we walked through the door. Honestly, the one-to-one interviews felt more like conversations. While the interviews were designed to see if I was a good fit for the company, it seemed xDesign were also keen to make sure that the company was a good fit for me. It felt like we were both aligning ourselves and seeing if the pairing would be a good match.
For the group task, I worked with three other applicants to create a marketing proposal. This involved brainstorming ideas, working as a team to select one to run with, developing the idea, and then presenting it to the wider group.
For me, the most scary part of the day was actually at the end when I realised just how badly I wanted the job. A few days later, to my excitement, I got the call, offering me the marketing graduate position.
How was your induction week?
At xDesign, the emerging talent team organises a week-long induction, designed to ensure a smooth onboarding for new joiners. It took place at the Edinburgh office and the whole cohort got to spend the week navigating through our new roles together. It was broken into helpful sessions, including:
a broad overview of the business,
meeting with each department individually to get a better understanding of what they do and how they work together,
meeting our line manager, mentor, buddy and team,
getting to know the other graduates, through the sessions together but also through organised after-work socials,
issue discussion - topics that are often overlooked but that people typically face when starting a new job (‘imposter syndrome’ is a common one),
and finally, practicalities like setting up the tech (laptops, software, logins etc).
The social activities were a particularly welcoming part of induction week. We went out for meals as a group, went bowling and were introduced to ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ - where everybody in the office has a drink at finishing time in the canteen and then heads out to a local bar.
I felt that the emerging talent team managed to remove all the stresses that typically come with starting a new job - like not feeling good enough, feeling overwhelmed with the workload, and not knowing how to do things or who to go to for help. The supportive nature of the people, the tasks, and the topics we covered made me feel completely at ease, totally supported, and excited to get started.
What have you enjoyed the most so far?
My favourite part so far has been meeting my team. As a company, xDesign values strong relationships and encourages a collaborative atmosphere, so I was so excited when my team organised a meal and I was able to get to know them on a more personal level outside of the office environment.
I felt comfortable really quickly and I got to know how amazing my team were as people, as well as being incredibly talented in their disciplines, which made me feel so excited about the idea of working with them. They created a warm energy that I felt - and still feel - grateful to be a part of.
What would be your advice to students looking for their next step?
I think the most important thing when looking for a job is choosing a company that you resonate with. It's amazing how much easier the application and interview process becomes when you are authentically passionate and want to be a part of the company because it reflects your values. xDesign is an exciting and fast-paced tech company that is people-focused, collaborative, and caring. This exactly matched what I was looking for.
My next piece of advice would be to be picky about where you apply. It's better to spend a week applying for one job that you really want instead of applying in high volumes without a proper focus or real interest.
I’d like to end on my main and overwhelming piece of advice - choose xDesign for your graduate programme! I know, it sounds cringey, but it’s really true. With a carefully thought-out 12-month programme, highly supportive environment, incredibly talented colleagues and a premium placed on self-development, I genuinely couldn't find anything else offering the same level of value.
I feel so lucky to be part of this team.
Learn more about the early career opportunities at xDesign, and available opportunities, by checking out the dedicated section of our website.