What prompted you to apply for this graduate programme?
I was introduced to it by a former colleague of mine from CBS, who is currently working in the HR department at GN Store Nord. He thought that the graduate programme would be a good fit for me, given my unique background, education and work experience. I looked into it and decided that it was indeed an opportunity to embark on an exciting endeavor that opens up a whole new avenue of growth.
"Naturally, I tried to leverage that past experience."
Can you recall elements from your cover letter? How did you tailor it to the specific position you were applying for?
What I did, in essence, was trying to relate my personal experience to the company and what value I could provide. I am in a slightly different situation than the other graduates because my background is in music. I was an opera singer for about 10 years before I obtained my MBA, so I came into the application with an already significant work experience under my belt. Naturally, I tried to leverage that past experience, specifically in sound, and my more recent education in business, in order to illustrate that I actually had something unique to offer to the organization.
What was the toughest aspect of the assessment process?
I am not a big fan of standardized tests, I must admit, so I was not overly excited about the analytical exam we had to take as part of the assessment process. Preparing for it was something I didn’t enjoy much. For most of the other applicants, though, the truly challenging part was to give a presentation to their supervisor’s boss. As an entertainer, I found this exercise a little more interesting.
"I wasn’t aware of what graduate programmes were before I applied for one."
In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t aware of what graduate programmes were before I applied for one. I wish I had gotten into the game a little earlier so that I could have had sufficient time to run the requisite background checks. I ended up having a day or two to put my application materials together. That is something I would probably have done differently as it would have reduced the level of stress involved in this process. That said, I enjoy stress - it makes me perform well. From other people’s perspective, however, it might seem like a good idea to spend some time in fact-gathering mode.
Looking back on the interview process, I think I could have tried to bring myself into the picture a little bit more. Showing your personality at this stage of the recruitment is important because it enables both parties to ascertain if there is chemistry and if you would be ultimately a good fit in the company’s culture. I could have done more in this department.
In that context, do you have any tips for future applicants on what they could do to strengthen their application, apart from what you’ve just said?
I’d say they should work on properly formulating their cover letter and resume with a view to bringing their learning experiences together into a cohesive whole and having their interest in this specific graduate programme clearly articulated. Further, it would pay dividends if, during the interview stage, they could elaborate on previous experiences in a kind of challenge-action-result setting.
For example, if my challenge was being unable to work with a certain colleague of mine because of diverging styles, I’d attempt to solve the problem (take action) by having an honest discussion with her and opting for written correspondence over personal meetings with the result being that we end up exceeding our deadline.
Having started the graduate programme only recently, you are probably still in the process of forming impressions and adjusting to the new workplace. That being said, would you be able to describe your typical work week as a graduate at GN?
It really depends on what area you are in. I am in Jabra which works in a consumer and professional market, whereas ReSound operates in the more regulated industry of the medical market. They have a different process that I am unfamiliar with. At this point, I am still trying to get to know the company so I can’t say that this will persist, but I have 3 or 4 meetings per day - usually gathering information because I am trying to work across different branches of the organization.
For the sake of brevity, the following is a condensed version of my typical work day: I arrive at the office at around 8:30 and check my email (there are usually quite a few emails to respond to). As I work with several agencies on different projects related to branding, I would usually have a few meetings through the day regarding these projects to make sure we are aligned and I am not missing anything. As an actual area in Jabra, brand is a new function. A lot happens and we are saddled with quite a few responsibilities because it is just me and the Head of Brand. So I’d say I am busier compared to someone who is in a larger department and works with a larger group within their function.
"I signed up for a challenge and that is what I expected."
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
Graduates working in different departments would encounter a host of different challenges. Mine is a challenge of a very fast moving company, hence trying to actually understand the organization - at a headquarter level as well as in a global setting. That’s been particularly taxing. My manager has really wanted to push me into the deep end, into taking the lead on many tasks and projects. It can be a challenge to manage all the different aspects of my job. But I signed up for a challenge and that is what I expected. It has also enabled me to tune into sharper, savvier ways of delivering my message.
Do you find the communication style different here in Denmark as opposed to what you are used to from the States?
Yes, absolutely. My first reaction would be to say it is more personal. People are willing to communicate and ask questions that in the US you wouldn’t be even able to hint at because there’s quite a differentiation between your personal and professional life. There is more of a blurred line here and that could be a little off-putting at first, especially if you are oblivious to the cultural differences. There’s always the potential of small misunderstandings occurring as a result of me being a native speaker and using metaphors that others might not necessarily be familiar with. I am becoming increasingly aware of that and I try to adjust my communication style.
How was it to fit into a new workplace as a graduate trainee? Were you supported through a mentorship programme?
I'm very excited about the mentorship programme offered through the Graduate programme. Graduates working in ReSound have mentors assigned from Jabra and vice-versa. I find this arrangement quite convenient because you feel a little more comfortable to discuss personal issues that affect you within your company with someone who is a little more objective. We also have the support of the HR who owns this project. It is important to have people around who you can bring your concerns to as not everyone in the company understands what a graduate is. It’s a new programme for GN. Only the first year they are doing it with Marketing and second for Finance. It’s gaining momentum, of course. The exciting part in that respect is that we, graduates, are able to influence the way the programme develops over time as it is not set in stone.
If we tickled your interest in graduate programmes, but you are still feeling confused about where your best options lie, you might want to elicit further information on the subject by reading other graduates’ stories about their experience.
Graduate programme at Danske Bank
Graduate programme at Swiss Re
...or you could delve deeper into GN Store Nord's graduate programmes by reading up on what hiring managers expect from you application-wise.