I’m Leon and currently working as an F15 graduate at Arla. I am excited to share my experiences about switching from the public to the private sector and how the programme has helped me make a change in my career path.
Before joining the programme, I was working in the public sector in Germany, working for an international cooperation project between the EU and China, and was looking for a change in my career. I was attracted to Arla's graduate programme because it is very flexible and sets itself apart from other programmes by not placing so much weight on your educational or professional background.
This made me realise that the company values talent and potential, rather than just the education one has received. It was a great opportunity for me to join the group of F15 graduates and I am excited to share some of my experiences with you.
1. Looking beyond flashy titles
When I was looking for a company to help me make my change in career path, I was searching for a company that values soft skills over functional background. When I learned about the F15 graduate programme, I was immediately drawn to its emphasis on ambition and a “can do” attitude. Throughout the selection process, the company looked for candidates who could demonstrate their leadership abilities and their willingness to take initiative. This was a refreshing change from the traditional focus on education and experience that many other companies have.
From the beginning, the recruitment process for the graduate programme was designed to give candidates the space to show our strengths beyond flashy titles and who we really are. Arla focused on our ability to lead, take initiative in real-life situations, but most importantly how we cooperate with others – in Arla’s words: how we shine light on others. For example, during the interview process, we were asked to have a group case where we engaged with each other. This allowed us to show our pro-active attitude, but in a natural and authentic way. Furthermore, the extensive interview during the assessment centre gives you a great opportunity about reflecting what is important to you. I appreciated this approach because it gave me the opportunity to present myself as my true self, rather than trying to impress with my education or experience, and ultimately opened me the door to a new chapter.
2. Openness and flexibility
The underlying philosophy of the open and honest approach to recruiting is something that you will find throughout the whole programme and company. As the rotations during the F15 programme can be anywhere between Corporate Social Responsibility and Logistics, you will be exposed to new challenges that more often than not are new to you. Even though I have studied business administration courses in my bachelor and master programmes, my main focus has been political science. Joining Arla, I am now exposed to a range of different business topics that I have never dealt with before. As Diversity & Inclusion Consultant in HR, I need to rely on my soft skills and logical thinking, because I have never worked in HR before, and only had one general course on HR management. So the programme also differs from many other programmes that are already specialized in one function.
The first months of the programme made me understand why Arla emphasizes certain soft skills more than expertise, because you can come a long way if you have an optimistic mindset and good people skills. Getting the knowledge about a certain function comes with time, but it is much harder to teach certain soft skills. Having this functional openness was an important prerequisite for a career change to me. With only public sector experience, I didn’t know where my strengths are in a corporate setting. Additionally, I didn’t know which type of functional work I enjoy.
3. Not losing momentum
When I first considered switching from the public sector to the private sector, I was afraid of losing momentum in my career. This was a risk that I identified from the beginning of my considerations. However, the F15 graduate programme reassured me that this would not be the case. The programme is designed to be world-class, with challenging rotations and a focus on personal and professional development. Even though my professional or educational background might differ from the rotations I am assigned to, I will be thrown in the deep end and given the same responsibilities as someone with the “right” background. This is an exciting opportunity for me to push myself to the limit and prove my worth as a professional.
The risk of losing momentum was also mitigated by the extensive training and development provided by the programme. From the moment you join the programme, you are given access to a range of learning and development opportunities, including four training weeks, workshops, mentoring, and on-the-job training. These resources have been invaluable in helping me to adapt to my new role and build the necessary skills and knowledge. I am confident that with the support of the graduate programme, I will be able to overcome any challenges and continue to grow and develop in my future offboarding role.
I am thrilled to have made the switch to a corporate career with the F15 programme. The emphasis on cooperation, demonstrated leadership skills, and a pro-active attitude was a breath of fresh air. I appreciate the opportunity to try out different business functions and grow into my future offboarding role as my true self. Despite my initial fears of losing momentum in my career, the extensive training and development provided by the programme has given me the confidence and skills I need to succeed. I highly recommend the F15 programme to anyone who is considering a change from their educational or first professional background, may it be social sciences, nature science or anything else! If you are looking for a company that values talent and potential, apply now and take the first step towards an exciting and rewarding career.