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What to look for in an engineering graduate programme

What do you need to look for when finding an engineering graduate programme? Read on to discover the key aspects to look out for.

Engineering graduate programmes can be the best way to start your career.

You’ve completed your engineering degree at university and are thinking about what to do now. It can feel like stepping into the unknown when it comes to beginning your career as an engineering professional, which is why a graduate programme might just be for you.

An engineering graduate programme provides you with an opportunity to expand on your university studies as you learn and work simultaneously. Often offered as a 2-year programme, you’ll benefit from the insight and support of experienced engineers who have worked on innovative and city-shaping projects. Their guidance will help you along your journey as you transition from an engineering graduate into an experienced professional.

What to look for in an engineering graduate programme?

There are a number of graduate programmes on offer for engineering graduates and it can be difficult to identify which will provide you with the best possible start to your career. Read on to learn more about what to look for in an engineering graduate programme.

Diverse projects

An essential place to start when considering graduate programmes is to research the employer’s existing projects, to understand the scale and diversity of what they do.

A diverse portfolio across different sectors such as infrastructure, management and development could lead to valuable cross-disciplinary opportunities to grow your experience and knowledge. If you’re a graduate who’s still unsure of what area to pursue, then a varied portfolio will expose you to new technologies, processes and specialisms. This hands-on experience will help you discover what different sectors have to offer and what appeals to you.

Hear from our graduates about how our projects inspired them to apply for the graduate programme:

Broad range of graduate options

Graduate programmes with a broad range of disciplines benefit you by providing tailored development for your transition from the graduate programme to a wider engineering role in a company.

At Mott MacDonald for example, we offer accredited graduate programmes in the following disciplines:

  • Aviation
  • Building services
  • Civil and structural engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Hydrology
  • Landscape architecture
  • Land consultant
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Project management
  • Software engineering and development

Awards/industry recognition

One of the best recommendations for an employer is a strong positive reputation for overall employee experience and graduate satisfaction. Industry awards and recognition for this indicate that the graduate engineering programme has been able to cater to all kinds of graduates consistently and support their success across a broad range of engineering disciplines.

As well as being consistently recognised as a top graduate employer, we’ve also engaged with professional engineering institutions directly. This ensures that our graduate programmes for each discipline provide the opportunities, experience and knowledge required for our graduates to go on to gain chartership.

Opportunities to work abroad

Joining the right graduate programme can take you further than you ever thought possible. Joining an organisation with projects and offices around the world could mean opportunities to live and work abroad in your future career, or even during your time in the graduate programme.

Learning and development

Nowhere in your career is learning and support more crucial than when you’re starting out as an engineering professional. A graduate programme will always offer learning and development, but to find one that goes further, look for what specific structures are put in place to support your development. Read on for some examples below:

  • Personal development plan

It’s important to have goals and objectives that are tailored to you and your career journey. Look out for engineering graduate programmes where you work together with your line manager and the learning and development team to set out achievable goals and priorities for each stage of your journey and ensure you have everything you need to flourish.

  • Business and commercial skills

The best graduate programmes will also introduce you to key business and commercial competencies alongside building technical skills. This will help you to drive your career forward while improving your personal effectiveness, customer focus, communication, and teamwork.

  • Support towards chartership

As a graduate with Mott MacDonald, you’ll be assigned a dedicated chartered mentor who will guide you to meet your professional goals and objectives, as well as online learning tools and courses. We’re proud to also work closely with the professional institutions themselves on our accredited graduate programmes to ensure that our graduates get the experiences and knowledge they need to prepare themselves for this next step.

Early career professionals (ECP) network

One factor that can help you settle into working life when you’re starting out in a graduate role is access to an active network of professionals who are early on in their career. As well as building a community, early career networks can help you to:

  • Share information and knowledge
  • Create new relationships and connections
  • Facilitate personal and professional development
  • Create a mutual sense of benefit
  • Find new ways to improve the business

Coming into Mott MacDonald as a graduate, you will have the opportunity to be part of our Early Career Professionals (ECP) network. The ECP network will provide you with a nurturing and challenging environment in which to expand your horizons, develop new skills, build confidence, and make new connections.


As a result of the rapid evolution of technology and digitalisation, all branches of engineering have developed a deeper, more complex digital dimension. That means whether you’re interested in anything from civil to electrical engineering, to get the best career start, it’s important to be using the industry standard software while becoming familiar with real-time digital data solutions that provide the right information when and where it’s needed.

Social and support

Starting your first professional engineering role as a graduate can be intimidating. That’s why it’s important to choose a graduate programme with opportunities to get more comfortable by easily meeting new people across the company.

Look out for programmes that provide opportunities to enrich your working experience and help expand your social and professional networks. Being able to talk to other colleagues or even managers about hobbies and interests will help break down barriers when it comes to approaching them. Also, it’s a lot of fun!

Here are some examples of what to look for to help you feel more at ease in the office:

Work atmosphere

The right work atmosphere can have a considerable impact on your graduate programme experience. Take a look at the organisation’s purpose and values and look for employee blog entries and testimonials to make sure you’re applying for a graduate programme with a company culture that works for you.

Graduate days

Special weekends and days out can provide opportunities to network with the other early career professionals in your organisation in a more relaxed setting. Look on career websites or talk to the recruitment team to learn more about what a graduate programme typically offers.

Clubs, societies and fundraising

Looking for an active office community to get involved in? Look out for organisations that discuss having clubs and societies for their employees to take part in – for example, at Mott MacDonald our offices have a range of things to do, from our extremely popular footy matches, to theatre trips, charity fundraising, quizzes, and inter-office competitions.


Being part of an organisation that prioritises equality, diversity and inclusion is an important factor to consider when starting out in your career. Look out for the specific ways that the company behind your graduate programme is putting its purpose and values into practice by investing in good practices and providing support for its employees.

Here at Mott MacDonald, we provide a range of support for our graduates such as:

  • Employee networks for gender, LGBT+, race, disability, parents and carers networks that provide a sense of community and support diverse talent in our business. Each group has a champion, resources and an agreed action plan.
  • Being part of the UK’s Disability Confident Employer Scheme.
  • Collaborating with external organisations including Business in the Community’s Race at Work campaign, Business Disability Forum, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and Work 180.
  • Delivering unconscious bias training for recruitment staff and managers.
  • Committing to increase diversity at all levels.

Finding the right graduate engineering programme

The best engineering graduate programmes offer you the chance to receive hands-on training in areas that you wish to specialise in – with guidance and knowledge sharing from professionals within the sector you have chosen. With the right support; such as mentorship, early career networks and opportunities to socialise in a more relaxed context, you can feel assured that your transition will be supported.

At Mott MacDonald, we have a global presence which allows us to bring together talented graduates and provide them with a wide range of opportunities and projects within the engineering industry. We have set up graduate development programmes in some of the best countries around the world, partnering with some of the most innovative and exciting projects we have to offer and with personalised learning, development and support. If you’re interested in learning more about how our engineering graduate programme might be a good fit for you, then explore our options below:

Find out more about our engineering graduate programmes in the UK and Ireland.

Find out more about our engineering graduate programmes in the US.

Find out more about our engineering graduate programmes in Hong Kong.

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