Rotational Programs and Your Career

A big part of the buzz around internships is due to the opportunities that internships provide to explore different career paths. They are shorter-term commitments that can lead to longer-term career insights. However, they have largely been designed for students still pursuing a degree. Is there an equivalent exploratory experience for college graduates? Yes! Rotational programs (sometimes referred to as Professional Development Programs or Leadership Development Programs) are an excellent option if you are a soon-to-be graduate or a new graduate who is not exactly sure about the direction of your career. Here are 3 reasons why these types of programs may be a good fit for you:

  • They allow for career exploration. Rotational programs offer young professionals the chance to rotate through a company’s different departments or focus areas. Being exposed to a variety of roles and responsibilities can be helpful if you want to narrow down your broad career interests. For instance, if you are curious about the world of finance, you might consider Vanguard’s Emerging Leader Development Program, a two-year rotational program to develop your leadership skills and awareness of investment services. 
  • They allow for company exploration. Within the hiring process, interviews are often described as ‘a two-way street.’ Just as an employer is evaluating your ability to perform a job, you should also be evaluating the employer’s ability to provide the kind of work environment you’re looking for. It can be difficult, though, to evaluate a work environment just by relying on interviews. Rotational programs are a meaningful opportunity to deeply explore the culture of an organization. For instance, maybe it is important for you to have access to high quality Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) so you can connect with colleagues who hold identities similar to yours. Basic information about these groups can surely be gathered throughout the hiring process. But, a two-year rotational program will give you a much more comprehensive view of how a company’s ERGs operate. 
  • They allow for self-exploration. A major part of the career development cycle is self-exploration. It’s important to understand what you’re passionate about, where your values lie, and the kinds of environments in which you thrive. As you can imagine, it takes trial and error to find positions that are aligned with your priorities. Rotational programs can help. For instance, if you think that working on a large team at a large company is the direction you want to go, a rotational program can give you a chance to try it out. 

Keep in mind, rotational programs are temporary positions. They usually last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. So, as you engage in the forms of exploration above, make sure that you’re consistently using the insights you gain to inform your next career steps.

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