Would you like to start off by telling us a bit about your background?
Sure, some short facts about me: After having worked in sales for a couple of years, I began studying Business with a focus on finance at Linköping University. After graduation I, in the fall of 2014, entered Danske Bank’s graduate programme.
Why did you apply for a graduate programme?
I applied for the position in the belief that this would be a great way to start off my career. Now, after having finished it I can say that this was very much the case! It was essentially the position itself at Danske Bank I was interested in, but it was a great advantage that it actually was a graduate position with focus on personal development.
What are the cons with working in a company as a fresh graduate?
As a graduate, you have the possibility to create a network and get to know the core of the organisation. You are encouraged to have a fast development and there is both time and resources set up to help you reach new goals.
I got client responsibility from day one at Danske Bank and my perception is that you, as a graduate, are constantly faced with new challenges: from the first day onwards you need to prove that you aren’t afraid of failing by showing initiative and assertiveness. This, combined with new and unexpected challenging questions from the clients contributes to fast development. To be thrown into, and gradually getting more responsibility through “learning by doing” in combination with essential education within the respective field, is a great incentive for fast learning.
I’m pleased to say that my academic knowledge was of great value and that the programme didn’t leave me bored at all. In close cooperation with my manager and mentor we made sure that I had a steadily increasing workload and constantly faced new challenges.
Was the position you applied for a given choice?
During my years of studying, I worked for Danske Bank and really enjoyed the company work environment, therefore it was a natural choice for me to apply for their graduate programme as well. Danske Bank published graduate positions with placements both in Linköping and Stockholm. Initially, I was trying to keep as many doors open as possible by showing interest in more than one of them. However, I realised pretty soon that one role was more suitable for me and therefore went all-in to get that specific one.
I was offered an interview for one of the other positions but chose to decline, which was a tough decision to make. Looking back at it today I actually believe that this strengthened my position in the recruitment process: I was clear with what I wanted and went for it whole-heartedly.
How does Danske Bank recruit their graduates?
The first part of the recruitment process is conducted by a consultancy recruitment firm, who set out to gather five candidates. These candidates were ultimately given the opportunity to have an interview with the office manager of the department.
The recruitment process is divided into five steps:
1. A phone interview with the recruitment firm.
2. A personal interview with another person at the recruitment firm
3. Personality and intelligence tests
4. Selected as one of the five to be interviewed by the office manager and HR-partner.
5. Final interview with the office manager and the closest team manager.
In the last two interviews, the primary focus was on personality-traits and how I would function in different situations. The graduate position I applied for included a great deal of teamwork. It was therefore more relevant for the recruiter to see how well I would get along with people in the team, rather than ask me to solve a knowledge based case-test, which I believe is otherwise common.
What was the setup of the programme?
The programme was designed to give us a thorough insight of the organisation’s business and core values. Its layout differs to some degree depending on which graduate position you applied for. We got the opportunity to join the different departments through several one-day-visits, as well as an insight in what the top management focuses on, both in Sweden and abroad. Via a “creative case-competition”, we also got to challenge each other regarding product development.
Besides the job itself within my home department, a significant part of the programme was focused on the personal development of the graduates. One of the best features was that we got the opportunity through meetings and gatherings to learn from the strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures of other graduates.
I spent most of the graduate programme at my home-department, which is somewhat different from other programmes that generally include more rotation. I did however have a three-week-long internship at another department. After consulting with both colleagues and my mentor, these weeks were all spent at the same department giving me valuable knowledge to bring with me back to my home-department.
If you were to give some advice to someone applying for a graduate programme, what would it be?
The first advice is to ask many questions: my experience is that you have to be in charge of your own development and take initiative - nothing will be served to you on a gold platter. This goes for both the interview process as well as during employment.
The second advice is to use your current network to get the best possible insight into what the specific roles imply. You face tough competition for the graduate spots, and I believe that those who are convinced that they want a specific role, based on what it entails, have a great advantage.
Advice number three is to focus on finding a role you are interested in. The graduate positions require high standards of engagement and drive from the graduate. I think it’s hard to live up to these standards if you don’t have an interest in the role you’re applying for.
So, top 3 arguments to apply for a graduate scheme at Danske Bank?
1. An awesome network
2. Steep learning curve
3. The great foundation that enables future development
Lastly, we’re curious to knowing what you’re working with today...
I completed the graduate programme in the beginning of September 2015. Today I’m fully client oriented as a Relationship Manager on the business side of the company. Together with my colleagues I’m responsible for advising the smaller scaled companies at Danske Bank. It’s an ever-changing role that I very much enjoy!