Although more cliché than intended to be, the title perfectly captured what I believed in 22 months ago when I submitted my application to the Arla F15 program. Growing up, predictability and certainty were never part of my life. I changed schools every two years on average and lived in 3 different countries before I turned 18. As a result, I was accustomed to living in a constant stage of change. By the time I received my master’s degree in Marketing and Economics, I felt more lost than ever. This was the time when most seemed to settle, or at least found a direction towards it, yet I was not ready for the idea of bringing a sense of certainty or sealed fate into my foreseeable future. Among the dozens of questions, I had for myself, one thing was certain: I did not want constraints. I wanted options, possibilities, and the opportunity to explore all that is out there for me. I knew in finding my own path I needed to get lost exploring the ways first.
I found out about graduate programs through a recently graduated F15 Graduate from Arla who spoke very highly of his experience. Although the policy differed from company to company, the general idea was similar: recent university graduates recruited into a leadership development program, during which they were assigned to different functions, and often had to relocate across borders.
I had always been a huge believer in growth through challenges and in the active pursuit in expanding one’s comfort zone. The graduate programme provided just that and more. It could allow me to grow and develop through learning, to take up responsibilities in fields unrelated to my prior experiences and have the freedom to try new career paths without settling just yet. It seemed like a perfect match, and so my mind was set.
I did some thorough research and narrowed down to two companies and graduate programmes which I really believed in. What attracted me to the F15 program was primarily how the F15 batch at-the-time truly enjoyed their experience, and how diversified their responsibilities were. I did not feel like it was just another employer branding strategy, I felt Arla’s belief in the programme and its graduates.
To ensure the limited spots were given to the right candidates, the recruitment process was thorough (click hereto read a fellow F15’s tips on how to prepare for the recruitment process). There were essentially 4 steps when I experienced the process: online assessments of behaviour and problem solving, video interview, a Skype interview and the final assessment centre. From the day I submitted my application to the day I received the hiring call, a few months passed in-between. Despite the long process, I had a lot of fun and the hardest part was the waiting time between each of the e-mails. Looking back, each step was not only Arla’s way of assessing whether I was the right candidate, but also a valuable chance for me to learn more about the company, and what it was that I wanted from the programme and what I could bring to the table.
As I am typing down these words, I am at a café in the heart of Shanghai, having just landed after a week of training in Poland. The F15 journey has been anything but ordinary. I’ve been on more flights this year than any other and gained new understandings of my personal weaknesses and strengths. I have grown through challenges, difficulties and responsibilities. Some of the impact and contributions I am making with work is already visible. This is only half way through the journey. I still have much more to discover, but I am finding my own path.