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Where to start  

Managing an organisation requires many skills. Industries recruiting graduates into management roles include retail, manufacturing, finance, transport, and construction, as well as large charities and the public sector.

Typical departments or functional areas you might work in include:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Finance (this is not banking, but is about understanding how the organisation acquires and uses finance, and how it manages its budgets)
  • Human Resources
  • Supply Chain
  • Logistics
  • Project Management
  • Technology
How to know if you’re suited to this sector

If you enjoy motivating others, see yourself as a natural diplomat, and thrive in leadership roles, you may be well-equipped for a career in business and management. There are two main routes into management: becoming a specialist by working your way up in your chosen sector or joining a graduate management scheme.

How to get the experience to be credible

Graduate management schemes often require a 2:1 (minimum) in any subject. A few may accept a 2:2 for some functional areas. Having strong interpersonal skills is vital, as is commercial awareness. This can come from work experience, or from extra-curricular activities such as organising student events and gaining sponsorships for a society.

Further study or certification required

Most organisations will provide full training, often with the chance to study for portable recognised qualifications such as CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) for HR roles, CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) for finance roles, or CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) for marketing and retail roles.

For project management roles, firms will provide training in the skills below, but gaining some familiarity with what they entail might prove useful at interview:

How to find employers or training courses

Use Handshake for finding graduate management schemes. Try Prospects for additional recruitment opportunities. Remember that graduate schemes are only the tip of the iceberg as far as working in business and management is concerned. There are many other opportunities which are not specific training schemes.

UK-based organisations rarely sponsor work permits for their graduate management schemes.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Look at the training options that the employers provide in order to be able to express your motivation and understanding of what your work would involve. Practice the psychometric tests available through our Resources section in order to prepare for this key part of the recruitment process. Key sites are Job Test Prep and Profiling for Success.

Read the business press (daily newspaper or BBC Business News) to understand what is happening in the world of business. Be ready to talk about a story you’ve followed and have an opinion about it.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

Almost any extra-curricular activities or positions of responsibility will help you to discover whether or not you enjoy working in teams. Try to manage a task or event—this can be in sport, drama, social events, or charity activities. For a deeper engagement look for business planning competitions such as i-teams or the activities run by Cambridge Enterprise.

Other things you should know

Some organisations offer rotational schemes (for instance, 3 months in each functional area before you decide where to stay), while others place you into one area right from the start.

Some functional areas involve tasks and responsibilities that are very similar in different sectors. If you have identified a functional area that plays to your strengths and interests, don’t forget to cast your net widely across the sectors.