Deloitte has several early careers options including apprenticeships, graduate programmes and a programme for secondary schools.
In 2023, the company plans to take on nearly 2,500 graduates and apprentices across the UK.
In June, 452 students joined the firm's Summer Vacation Scheme which is open to students in the penultimate year of their degree to work as junior team members during their summer break.
Lauren McCafferty, is head of early careers recruitment at the firm.
For any firms looking to set up a similar initiative, her first piece of advice is: prepare well, not just the content, but how colleagues working with the students are informed.
Speaking to HR magazine, McCafferty said: “You can't prepare enough.
“When you've got students that are in the business with people who are doing very busy jobs, it’s making sure that you've really prepared those individuals for what it takes to look after an intern coming in, giving them advice on even basic things like ‘They finish their induction on this day, please meet them at reception.’”
Thorough guidance, including setting clear objectives, is particularly crucial when scaling a scheme up, she added.
“When the numbers are much smaller, that can be managed through a conversation,” she said.
“When you start to scale this stuff up and it’s UK-wide, that preparation is really, really key. And if you don't lay the foundations then you find yourself with the experience not being as brilliant as you want it to be.”
Early experience manager Katie Goodman said preparation is about the build-up to the intake too.
Goodman told HR magazine: “For the students, the pre-engagement, building up that excitement, and preparing them for what they're about to do, is important.
“Every year we put more emphasis on that; we think of new ways to engage with them, what to share, like getting them listening to the podcast before they come.
“And also, being clear on the communications like trying to pre-empt every question they might have before they join, so that they feel really set up and supported to join something that's completely brand new for them."
One of the differences for the Summer Vacation cohorts that have joined since June 2021 is Deloitte now operates a hybrid workforce where colleagues decide where and when they work.
Though all roles are designed to mirror the workforce, with a mix of remote and in-person learning, a central team has been set up post-Covid to run inductions, regular check-ins and a Connect Club networking event for the cohort.
This ensures students feel connected to the business.
McCafferty said: “We have a central team that own and coordinate the Summer Vacation Scheme and there’s a central framework around that and that really connects it all together.
“What we've learned is it's important. That central spine gives them that sense of a cohort, and that sense of belonging on a programme because we're a massive organisation.”
The development opportunities and guest speakers Deloitte provide as part of its scheme are undoubtedly a big draw to students, but smaller businesses could baulk at such cost.
For McCafferty, the investment is vital to remain competitive as an employer of choice.
She said: “We talk a lot to students at university on campus, and they're telling us – and market research is telling us the same thing – they are job hunting long before their final year at university.
“Work experience is so critical in both helping them make a really informed choice and engaging with great talent earlier. If you aren't, you run the risk that you might miss out.”
Above all, she added: “Experience is at the heart of this.
"It's why we do get motivational speakers and we invest in things like that as well, because that experience will last a lifetime.”