GradStart – For Graduates

GradStart and how will it benefit me?

GradStart will support Enterprise Ireland SME client companies to hire up to three graduates per year. The initiative will support graduate placement across all disciplines and sectors..

Irish SMEs, which are client companies of Enterprise Ireland, deliver significant economic benefits to Ireland and are crucial to the long-term sustainability of the Irish economy. These companies are flexible, innovative and ambitious, led by highly skilled, creative and hard-working entrepreneurs. Some of the most interesting graduate opportunities exist in Irish companies.

GRADSTART is designed to connect graduates with dynamic Irish SMEs. The placement is 24 months in duration, during which you will receive a salary from your host company. This salary is negotiated between you and your host company. While completing this 24 month placement you will complete a project defined by the company that will link to the role you have been assigned. During your placement, you will be assigned an in-company mentor to work with you on this project In addition to working with you on your assigned project, this mentor will be there to support you in your development within the company.

The programme will benefit you by providing you with:

  • Excellent placement opportunities in dynamic and ambitious Irish companies
  • The opportunity to develop and use a broader range of skills
  • The potential to accelerate career development
  • Competitive graduate salary
  • Invaluable experience with an in-company industry experience mentor
  • A practical graduate development opportunity

This programme is financially supported by Enterprise Ireland.


Eligible Graduates:.

GradStart is open to graduates and postgraduates of any discipline who meet the following criteria:

  • Seeking graduate entry level positions;
  • Have a recognised qualification not less than Level 6 on the National Vocational Qualifications Framework, or recognised equivalent, or a postgraduate degree not less than Level 9 on the National Vocational Qualifications Framework, or recognised equivalent;
  • Have a valid work permit to work in Ireland (if required) for the duration of the 24-month placement; OR
  • Hold a 1-year working visa with the option to renew the visa to allow completion of the 2-year contract – neither the hiring company nor Enterprise Ireland will have any liability or responsibility should the graduate be unable to renew their working visa.
  • Have graduated within the last four years.
  • Can provide proof of language proficiency where required by hiring company

Ineligible Graduates:

  • Graduates who cannot provide evidence of having reached the required academic standard on the National Vocational Qualifications Framework or demonstrate equivalence;
  • Graduates who do not, at time of application, have a valid work permit to work in Ireland;
  • Graduates who are more than four years post-graduation
  • Graduates recruited or on the company payroll prior to the grant support date, graduates transferred from another location of the company to the grant aided company location; graduates performing a sales or marketing role for the grantee company; graduates supported by the Jobs Plus Programme administered by the Department of Social Protection.
  • Graduates who cannot provide proof of language proficiency (where required by hiring company)


How to Apply?

The company has complete responsibility for the recruitment of the graduates.

Graduates should check this website regularly for opportunities they are interested in and apply directly to the relevant company via this site (

if any feedback is required you may contact the company directly.





5 Great Reasons for a Graduate to work for an SME

Enterprise Ireland’s SME clients are a key component of the Irish economy and crucial to economic recovery. They are drivers of entrepreneurial activity, innovation, export market growth, competitiveness, and employment.

While SMEs are often smaller in size by comparison to large companies and multi-national corporations, SMEs can offer many benefits to graduates in their career due to their size.

5 Great Reasons…..

  1. The job role is broader and more varied. SMEs tend to be less rigid in structure and job roles are usually less defined. In SMEs, the approach is more hands-on, giving graduates more exposure and responsibilities. This offers graduates more opportunities to develop their skills in a broad range of roles which might not be possible to do in bigger companies. As a result, the graduate will broaden their skill set and plump up their resume further.
  1. There’s often less emphasis on hierarchy, which can create an open work environment – graduates may have greater opportunities to interact frequently with middle and senior management. Working in closer proximity with management allows graduates to share thoughts and ideas and give feedback on company matters.
  1. Better communication between graduate and management can help the graduate to get their work done and receive recognition for it.
  1. Go further, faster. The bigger the company, the more competition there is. Hard work in an SME will not go unnoticed, especially if the graduate has proved their worth. Graduates who started working for SMEs often realise that they make more of a contribution to the company than their peers in large organisations.
  1. Everybody knows your name….the smaller workforce in SMEs means that the culture is more personable and is often more informal and friendly. Everybody generally knows everybody else and there is fewer office politics involved.


In-Company Mentor


The potential of graduates is huge, they have grown up in a world of information, they know how to get information and apply it. Theirs is a global community and their willingness to take risks, try new things, and propose new ideas and ways of doing things is of huge benefit to the companies that employ them. It is in this context that the benefits of mentoring are outlined.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring provides new graduates who may have less experience in the workplace with regular and objective feedback, valuable insight and support. They act as a confidential sounding board to the graduate and help them with any questions and generally become their ‘go-to’ person.

Benefits to the Graduate

The mentor experience is a very valuable and effective development opportunity for a graduate. Being offered the guidance, support and encouragement of a trusted and experienced mentor can offer the graduate a range of personal and professional benefits which will ultimately benefit the company through improved performance in the workplace.

Benefits include:

  • Develop a sharper focus on what is needed to grow and be successful within the company
  • Learn from a mentor’s real-world experience
  • Learn specific skills and knowledge relevant to achieving goals
  • Insider’s perspective on how things work in the company
  • Someone to bounce ideas off
  • Someone to provide impartial advice
  • Receive critical and timely feedback
  • Assist in career decisions


FAQ – Get Answers

Is Enterprise Ireland involved in the recruitment of graduates? Where and how will I get feedback on my application?

Enterprise Ireland is not involved in the recruitment process, for any updates on the recruitment process or to receive feedback you will need to contact the hiring company directly yourself.

My qualification is in a non-business subject awarded in 2017, but I have no experience. Am I eligible?

Yes, you are eligible for the Programme.

I graduated in 2008, do I qualify?

No. To be eligible for the Programme, you must have graduated within the last four years.

I am not an Irish citizen – do I qualify?

You do not have to be an Irish citizen to qualify, but if you require a work permit to work in Ireland, you must have a valid work permit to work in Ireland for the duration of the placement.

Does Enterprise Ireland set the salaries?

No, it is up to you to negotiate your salary with the hiring company.

Do I need a driving licence?

You will need a driving licence if it is an essential requirement for the hiring company.

When will I know I have been successful?

You will find out if you have been successful directly from the hiring company.

I obtained my qualification in a college/university outside Ireland. Do I qualify?

The minimum requirement is a Level 6 qualification (National Qualifications Framework) or recognised equivalent obtained from a college/university outside Ireland.