“Probably the best way to get out of your comfort zone” – is exactly what my girlfriend and I thought in January 2019 about going abroad. It was not an easy ride I must say honestly, but a really cool one and I have no regrets! Early January I applied for the Digital Graduate Program within Carlsberg in Copenhagen (similar to a traineeship in the Netherlands). After passing the screening interview and the assessment day, I was invited to the final round which was a Skype interview with Mark Dajani, CIO & Sarah Haywood, CTO. I can assure you, this was far from an easy interview – Mark really likes to “peel the onion” and made sure he breaks through all of your preparations. Text by: Pepijn van den Brink
You can guess what happened afterwards and let me fast forward to the last couple of months. Between graduating and starting my new job in September, I had only eight days off (way too few). Here I was, coupled to my first rotation and assigned to my mentor, Sarah Haywood, for the upcoming two years. What I really like about Carlsberg is its global attitude (e.g. my current team consisting of 25 people has no born Danes), the company culture and the flat hierarchy. During my onboarding together with the Graduate Community, we visited the Carlsberg Research Laboratory, had graduate workshops and two one-hour meetings with CEO Cees ‘t Hart. My first rotation is within the Process Discipline Team, a team that is mainly focusing on optimizing and standardizing processes in the Western European markets. In this team I am Product Owner of an IT Request Tool and Project Manager in Process Mining. In a short amount of time I really feel an appreciated team member, even though everybody knows that I have my next rotation planned within eight months. I receive a lot of trust from my manager, Virginia, who really gives me space and opportunities to excel. Don’t be afraid that I will become a completely different Pepijn – I still look forward to receiving the photo round of the weekly pub quiz and within Carlsberg I am already known as the crazy Dutchman who can guess 80s songs within two seconds.
I think it is interesting to touch upon the point of applying your study learnings within a graduate program. Yes, it is true that you only use a very small piece of your econometric toolbox – if you want to leverage this, I would not recommend a graduate program. However, what I feel in my daily job is that, due to my analytical and complex problem-solving skills that I have developed during my studies, I can quickly understand difficult problems and easily detect fact-based business value and opportunities. But to really make an impact in a multinational, you need to develop yourself and I am thankful to be able to learn every day on multiple facades (think about developing your own branding, “work hygiene”, leadership).
Copenhagen is a lovely city, it is beautiful and with everybody speaking more than decent English, you can do everything and go everywhere you want. Of course, living abroad is sometimes tough, but with so many good friends visiting us in such a short notice – Tamara and I really feel lucky.
I would like to end with some take-aways:
1) If you want to pursue a graduate program/traineeship – make sure to start exploring on time, since there is a hard deadline (and there probably is a lot of competition)
2) Planning big future steps ahead can be very beneficial – even with an EU citizenship and an offer six months upfront, it is apparently really difficult to relocate and get the paperwork finished on time
3) I do not regret my choice and would certainly recommend the Graduate Program at Carlsberg (note that the deadline is approaching soon). If you are interested in a Graduating Program or you want some sparring about going abroad, feel free to contact me!