Considering a Graduate Career in Mental Health?

If you’re in your final year looking for a graduate training programme a lot of schemes have early closing dates and are recruiting now for June/July start dates. If you’re looking for a graduate job check out the vacancies currently available on My Careers Centre.

In this blog we’ll hear more about the graduate training programme, Think Ahead, from their on campus ambassador Philippa Karikari…

Your 3rd year can be an interesting point in your academic career. It is a time when you are preparing yourself for life on the outside world and the elusive graduate job market. Sometimes the sheer amount of possibilities available to you can seem daunting, confusing and a nightmare to navigate. However over the years the process is becoming more accessible for students from a range of backgrounds and universities to achieve some of the best possible jobs in the graduate market.

If you’re someone that is ready to work but is also looking to make an impact beyond an office role then a graduate career in Mental Health may be the one for you. Here are some key points and helpful tips to help you establish the next steps into post-uni life:

Matthew Griffin

Step One – How will a Grad Scheme work around my lifestyle?

The ‘Think Ahead’ Mental Health Graduate Programme offers a number of opportunities to work at NHS Trusts and Local Authorities across England. The scheme also offers the chance to move in between placements throughout the duration but will always be within the geographical area of your first few preferences. Most roles run during Monday-Friday with allocated time for study, allowing freedom and travel on the weekends. Additionally, for the first 6-weeks of training on the scheme food and accommodation will be provided for all participants. Think Ahead participants can also make additional arrangements for those living with dependents such as children during the programme.

Step Two – What does a Grad Scheme actually involve?

Many schemes offer great starting salaries along with the chance to study for an additional qualification. However, it is important when deciding the right scheme to assess whether you can make the most out of your time and how it could help develop your career.

On Think Ahead training is provided for the first 6 weeks giving you the chance to familiarise yourself with the role, engage with your peers and receive advice from top leaders and professionals in mental health. After this, you will be led by a consultant social worker and complete a postgraduate diploma in Social Work after your first year and a masters in Social Work after the second, allowing you to lead cases that will shape and impact the mental health challenge in your community. Starting salaries for qualified social workers range from £21,000-£30,000+ depending on your location. After which you may choose to qualify as an Best Interests Assessor or Approved Mental Health Professional or use your skills and qualifications to excel in other leadership sectors.

Rebecca WebsterStep Three – Do I need prior experience in the field?

No. The lucky thing about most graduate schemes is that they focus on potential and whether you possess the core values they look for.

In Think Ahead, some of the values that would help in your role include being adaptable, motivated and a good communicator. It is also important to have a genuine passion for improving and challenging the mental health stigma in our society.

Step Four – What if I have a mental health condition or a disability?

Think Ahead values are centered around being an inclusive and effective graduate employer and therefore encourages those with lived experience of health inequalities to apply to the scheme. Additional support and arrangements will be made at all stages of the process and placements when you apply.

Jan-Michael McIntoshStep Five – Am I Ready?

Absolutely. Now is your chance to make a difference in people’s lives and the chance to shape mental health policy. Remember, graduate life is all about putting yourself out there and making the most of the skills you’ve developed during your degree.

Have fun and enjoy your journey!

If you need more information about Think Ahead, or assistance with the application process, please contact Philippa at

think Ahead

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