The Carlsberg Graduate Programme – Becoming a Graduate in COVID-19 Times

14/11/2020 Graduateships Min.

We sat down with Naomi and Dominique, who managed to get into one of the absolutely most sought after graduate programmes in Denmark and the world - the Carlsberg Graduate Programme. Hear their take on steering through Covid-19 challenges and achieving in a fast-paced environment at Carlsberg.

Dominique Enström

Education

2018 – 2020 Hanken School of Economics, MSc Economics and Business Administration, Marketing
2018 National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan, Exchange student, Business Administration and Management
2014 – 2017 Hanken School of Economics, BSc Economics and Business Administration, Marketing 

 

Experience

2019 Solution Manager, SEB Kort
2018 – 2019 Customer Loyalty Assistant, SEB Kort
2016 – 2017 Executive Assistant, KLOK Creative Agency
2016 – Summer Intern, SEB Life International

 

Naomi Boterenbrood

Education 

2018 – 2019 ESADE Business & Law School, Double Degree: MSc Marketing Management
2017 – 2018 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Double Degree: MSc Global Business & Sustainability
2016 Singapore Management University, Bachelor Exchange Program, Business Administration and Management
2014 – 2017 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, BSc International Business Administration 

 

Experience 

2020 Analyst, Dalberg Media
2020 Sustainability Analyst, Sustainia
2018 – 2019 Consultant, 180 Degrees Consulting
2017 – 2018 Internal Manager, Erasmus Sustainability Hub
2015 – 2018 Co-Founder, Board Member & Visual Arts Manager, The Student Art Association
2016 Strategic Business Plan Developer, Garena Interactive Holding Ltd
2015 – 2016 RSM Mentor, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
2014 – 2015 Strategic Business Plan Developer, Philips
2014 Summer Intern, Ogilvy

The dream graduate program at Carlsberg

A few days ago, we had the pleasure to talk with two graduates who recently started their graduate program at Carlsberg. Naomi Boterenbrood from the Netherlands who graduated from the very prestigious School of Management in Rotterdam and ESADE Business School in Barcelona. Dominique Enström from Finland is a proud graduate from a leading university in Helsinki, Hanken School of Economics. Considering Naomi’s background, she explained that going for a graduate program abroad is “the natural extension of the lifestyle where everything is always changing”. Dominique’s decision to go for the program was the desire to take the first step to expand internationally and work for a company that shared her values.

In September, both of them started their graduate program at Carlsberg’s headquarters in Copenhagen. The company offers various tracks for the graduates, however given their educational background in marketing, Naomi and Dominique both chose to apply for the International Commercial Graduate position. The program lasts two years and it is divided into three different rotations within marketing, sales and a third one which is taken abroad. The order of the rotations is not known until the very close date when it is supposed to change, for instance, they might get to know where they are going abroad only one month before the relocation. 

 

Finding a graduate program 

Both of the girls mentioned that the graduateship programs were always on the radar while they have been studying. Most of the time everyone is researching it by themselves, which is the reason why we decided to make it much easier and provide you with the graduate guide coming mid Movember. The other useful tool that they mentioned, and that is definitely worth a try, is LinkedIn because many companies use this platform to post and advertise open positions. Here, you might find information you do not necessarily find elsewhere. 

Accommodation

Unlike Naomi who has been already living in Copenhagen for almost one year, Dominique was new to Denmark. She said that Carlsberg was very helpful with accommodation and adaptability to a new country. They first connected her with a relocation agency which helped with basic documents regarding moving to Denmark from another country. Besides that, Carlsberg provided her with accommodation for one month during which she had time to find her own apartment and get settled.

 

30 first days in Carlsberg Graduate Programme

Both the hiring process and the beginning of the program was disrupted by the Coronavirus and the restrictions that were implemented as a result of that. Luckily, the first three weeks proceeded as normal. 

The first five days are called “onboarding week” when the graduates have presentations made by the senior people in the company and during which you can meet various people and your future team. 

The next week they were assigned to their team and became a part of the projects that have been already running. This lasted only two weeks due to new regulations regarding COVID-19 imposed by the government. Ever since they had to work from home. 

Getting to know the company with a little help 

At Carlsberg, every graduate gets assigned a “buddy“ who is a previous graduate. This is someone who will help them get to know the company and give a few valuable tips. Except for the buddies each graduate gets a personal mentor. Mentors in Carlsberg are the senior people in the company from a different team than the graduate is assigned to, therefore there is no possibility of a conflict of interest. Mentoring programs are more about longer-term perspectives regarding your rotations and your future in the company. They can help you define your career and the possible opportunities. The meetings with the mentor are every month, however, due to the fact that it is a very individual approach the frequency is flexible and depends on personal needs. Both Dominique and Naomi agreed that the communication between them and their mentor is very open and honest. 

On top of that, getting introduced to senior people in the company, integration with your team and bigger or smaller sessions with all different departments is a great way to get to know the company, “which from the beginning gives you a broader perspective of the entire organization”, Dominique adds. 

The biggest challenges are the most exciting ones 

Of course, the COVID-19 situation made the whole experience enormously challenging since the adaptation process was very disrupted. The various restrictions regarding social distancing cut off many social possibilities for networking and getting to know people who you are working with.

Regarding the strictly professional side, the graduates mentioned that the biggest surprise and challenge is that from day one, they were put in charge of the projects that have already started before. “Being the biggest challenge it’s also the most exciting. That is what makes it the most unique for the graduate program”.

What is worth mentioning is that the other employees are aware that you are brand new. They don’t expect you to be an expert from the beginning in every field. Naomi suggested to not be shy and ask for the help if you need any. The more you learn at the beginning, the better you will be at the end of the program. 

Preparation and work environment 

We asked about the preparation for the graduate program and they both agree that around 25 % of the information is available online. The other 25 % they gained during onboarding week and the missing 50 % is something that you can learn only by working there. Knowing the different ways of solving the problems differ from team to team and you, therefore, learn from your colleagues and learn by doing.

Naomi and Dominique together argue that there is a very great deal between work and social side. The first two weeks when you are getting to know the company might be very time consuming, however later on the working hours are well respected and people take it very seriously. 

They also added that you should be open to some different days when you need to meet the specific deadlines etc., however, this happens in all companies. 

Entry-level positions vs Graduate programs 

Naomi said that one of the main differences is that it is more practical work than for example in her previous jobs in consulting which is relatively more theoretical. What makes the program unique is the fact that you are getting responsible for different projects literally in the second week. 

For Dominique, it is a totally new and exciting experience. In her previous roles, she was usually working independently on projects whereas at Carlsberg, she appreciates the teamwork and cross-functional approach.

On top of that, it is her first full-time job!

You are never alone, you are surrounded by amazing colleagues, mentors and buddies
Dominique Enström, Carlsberg graduate

Both of them agree that the rotation is a valuable part because “you can understand yourself and it gives you an opportunity to choose in which position you would see yourself in the future” Naomi says. What is more, “seeing the bigger picture of the company” is something that adds a lot of value, as Dominique perfectly put it “getting experience on a whole other level”. 

 

Carlsberg approaches the graduates with various training, webinars or 1-day courses. The employees can at all times learn new skills. Some non-mandatory courses are usually open to all of the employees in Carlsberg, so it is a great opportunity to get to know the people at the company. 

 

In the future…

We asked Dominique and Naomi about their plans for the future and if they are planning to stay in Carlsberg. They said that there are many possibilities and opportunities within the company by itself. 

Due to their choice of international track, they have many possibilities in the different offices of Carlsberg all around the world. “The idea is to send you out into the market and apply what you learned during your 2 years of training in the headquarters”, they add. 

 

What would you have wished to know before? 

The importance of networking and that you should constantly strive to expand your own personal and professional network. To listen to people and learn from them as much as you can. To succeed in Carlsberg, you should have skills such as adaptability and pro-activity. The other important thing is that you should show what you can give to the company and what values you bring. 

 

At the end, we would love to thank both Naomi and Dominique for the participation and wish them all the best in the future!