Don't abandon Early Careers - evolve and adapt!

  • November 19, 2020

We have been speaking to clients and candidates across the market and are seeing a number of organisations either halting or substantially reducing, their hiring in the graduate space due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is an alarming trend. Graduate Programmes are vital for many organisations, as they provide a future generation of talent and not hiring in this space could present longer term challenges. They also have a huge impact on employer brand, especially if they are delivered successfully. They offer a fresh perspective and innovative ideas which, in turn, allows organisations to grow and thrive.   

With this in mind, we have spoken to three Early Careers Specialists to gather their insights into how businesses can address the challenges around delivering Graduate Programmes in the current market.

We have spoken to 2 consultants, Jessica Jones and Samantha Ridgewell (see below) to get a holistic overview of their approach and potential solutions. Additionally, we have a deep focus interview with Kimberley Rowling, Graduate Programme Manager for the BT Group to get insight to what she is driving internally within BT.  

Below we get the thoughts of Samantha Ridgewell, Managing Director at Empower Development.

Samantha Ridgewell is a passionate Talent Professional who has built up a strong reputation in the insurance market, helping insurance organisations develop their businesses and people by delivering credible and relevant learning and development programmes, with one key area of focus being Early Careers Programmes.

Samantha has run very successful graduate programmes for her clients since the pandemic hit and quickly identified key areas where she had to make changes and adapt.

Mindset and Attitude

Samantha had to firstly look at changing her attitude towards technology and embrace this going forward.

“Come March I had never run an online course, by April I was running multiple online programmes.”  

“It can feel exposing at first as for many trainers it is outside their comfort zones, but it soon feels natural and enjoyable”.  

Sam embraced Zoom and WebEx and has found these to be great tools when training.  She also highly recommends using a “virtual host” so you can concentrate on delivering the training and less so on the technical issues that arise.


Structure is key to any Graduate Programme and more so now it’s all online. “Where there is a lot of structure in place the programme had more chance of being successful”. This helps both the Graduates and their Line Managers.  

“Remote working requires a lot more effort from the Line Managers to guide the Graduates and plan their days.” 

So, if you can give them structure around the planning of their days which will help a lot. “What is really needed is experiential learning”. This is very useful when running online programmes - “you can set case studies and hypotheticals and give the grads time to go away and complete these, working independently”. Coming back into “bite sized training sessions”.

Consideration of being inclusive

“We now create all our workbooks as electronic interactive documents as many learners won’t have access to a printer at home.” Sam is now working to design continual learning programmes which will drip feed theory and activities between courses.


Big thank you to Samantha for giving us some great tips on how you can evolve and adapt to continue to deliver your Early Careers Programmes in the current climate.

If you would like more information please drop Sam an email -

Kara Feller
Principal Consultant - HR & Talent Management Recruitment
t: +44 (0)20 7422 9035

Other articles in this series:

  • "Early Careers are vital to the future of a business." Click here to hear from Kimberly Rowling, Graduate Programme Manager at BT Group.
  • "Delivering a successful Graduate Programme." Click here to hear from Jessica Jones, Director of Human Resources at Jessica Jones Consulting.