Blog entry from a Production Management Graduate

Hi all!

(By January 2017 the name of the Supply Chain Graduate Programme has been changed to Production Management Graduate Programme)

My name is Sini and I’m Supply Chain Graduate from Finland. In this blog text I will shortly describe what I do and what made me apply for the programme. Then I will focus on what kind of things you should keep in mind when applying!

My reality:
I’m on my first rotation in Taulov dairy, Denmark. The dairy produces currently 60 000 tons of yellow cheese to sell all over the world. I work with different projects that are related to water consumption, cheese wastage and development of new type of cheese. My tasks provide me with responsibility, challenges and a great viewpoint for how the dairy operates. My work is very practical and white Arla clothes are my daily outfit. It definitely is not fancy, but fascinating. I want to point out that the Supply Chain Graduate Programme focuses on educating leaders to Arla sites where hands are on turning the milk into finished goods.

I have a Master’s degree in Food Science and I majored in Dairy Technology. So, for me it had long been clear that I wanted to work with dairy products and Arla was therefore a very strong choice of employer. And when I heard about the Supply Chain Graduate Programme it didn’t take me too long to realize that this could be my future. However, I knew that competition was hard and I really had to get the best out of me when applying. Now that I have made it, I feel like I want to share my best tips for the application.

Be yourself - How to bring out the best of yourself in the application:
I remember hearing and reading everywhere to ”be yourself”. I thought about those words a lot and I tried to understand what they mean in my case. From my point of view, I’m always myself wherever I go and whatever I do. However, when writing the application I realized that I didn’t only need to describe who I am but also what has made me the person I am today and on the other hand, how my personality has directed me to do the things that have shaped the person I am.

To start with, I claimed that I’m a global citizen. This is a wide subject and could mean different things to different people but this is how I see it: First I described shortly where I have lived and studied and what I have learnt from these experiences. Next I explained that without certain openness and curiousness I would never have chosen to go abroad, to different places, to start a new life from scratch over and over again and on top of all that – survive! In foreign countries, I have learnt the hard way that people don’t speak my language, they have their own ways of working and they might not take me seriously but I still need to push through. And I can say that the persistence I have learnt from my previous experiences abroad has helped me in my daily life as a graduate as well. In addition, I had worked many years with foreigners in Finland and I found it important to describe in the application that I know how natives treat minority. One more important thing to take into consideration is that the graduate needs to be willing to pursue an international career. So think about your current life situation and where you want to be in five years, because the work might not return you back to your home country.

Secondly, although Arla was an obvious option for me as a dairy scientist, I still had to justify why Arla was my preferred option over any other dairy company. The employer really appreciates good arguments because it shows that the applicant has done some background research. Arla is a farmer owned company and the mission is to secure the highest value for our farmer’s milk. If that gives meaning to you, then you are already half-way being an Arla employee! I could also agree with the Arla Identity because I believe in healthy, natural, responsible and cooperative growth. But don’t forget that this is a leadership programme as well, so learn by heart what ”Envision, Engage and Deliver” means to Arla leaders.

Thirdly, this graduate programme doesn’t seek for people with years of working experience, but for people who have potential. Thus despite the fact that you have long working history, don’t forget your spare time activities. That is why I decided to highlight my hobbies because they indeed tell a lot about me as a person. I had competed in golf so I could easily say I’m ambitious and I can perform under pressure. I could also state that my other hobbies represent my healthy lifestyle and therefore Arla’s Good Growth is a natural status for me.

Fourthly, I wrote down the most convenient leadership experience that I had gained and tried to describe the feedback that I had received. For example, working as a substitute teacher my students had described me as a kind and caring, yet demanding leader. Furthermore, what is your perception of a good leader? You can be sure that you will be asked that question in the further steps.

In addition, I stand behind my choices in life and I’m even proud of them. For example, taking a year off after high school probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do if I had only had graduation at an early age in mind. Or sacrificing hundreds of hours for volunteer work hasn’t been the most profitable thing to do moneywise. In addition, I necessarily wanted to go to Africa to do my Master’s thesis, although I heard several comments about how I should prefer a prestigious university where I wouldn’t have been so much on my own. After all, I wouldn’t have changed one moment from my gap year or my volunteering experiences or my studies in Africa. On the contrary, I received recognition for these activities in the recruiting process. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t always taken the most lucrative path or lived up to other’s expectations as long as you can justify your choices and show what you have learnt from them.

To conclude my point, remember that you don’t need to be professionally ready in order to become selected to this programme but you definitely need to have the capabilities to become professional! And we all know that we all are skilled, but it is up to you to show the recruiter. Therefore the key thing is to really think about everything that you have seen, heard and experienced and then differentiate yourself. Be who you are and be proud of it.

Good luck!

Sini Hoffman (Sini Laurikkala)