Navigating the transition from the graduate program to a fixed role

You are an F15 Graduate. You rocked two out of three rotations and are now finally feeling in your element with your third rotation. For me, it was an unmatched feeling of confidence and satisfaction as I reflected on the network I've built and the experiences I accumulated. As I was enthusiastically setting the course for a sustainability pilot project, I had to also learn how to navigate the transition from the graduate program to a fixed role.

This blog post delves into the rollercoaster of emotions and challenges that come with this transition, exploring the pressure to find the perfect job, adapting to new dynamics, and rediscovering your identity beyond your graduate position.

The Confusion and Stress: Don't get lost in the Maze of Expectations

Balancing the demands of my third rotation project while searching for my long-term career path was at times overwhelming emotionally. When we talk about offboarding from the program, we are not just talking about another eight-months project. It feels like the culmination of two years of preparation. So how do you find "the one"? The right job, the right team, the right manager and the perfect location are an illusion. What helped me find my North Star was turning off all the other lights. I stopped thinking of how to get the role within innovation management that I believed was perfect for me and others were encouraging me to go after. I started reflecting on who I was before I began believing my three graduate rotations locked me into a specific path.

Rediscovering Your Identity: Beyond Your Graduate Position

Amidst the chaos of transitioning, it was crucial to focus on who I am aside from my graduate position and the titles I held throughout my rotations. Our identities are multifaceted, and rediscovering my personal goal of becoming fluent in Danish broadened my horizons and opened the door to roles in Arla Denmark. I took many moments of solitude to understand whether I was done being challenged and outline to what extent and in what direction I wanted to challenge myself next. Sparring with my current and past managers, whom I trust and can be vulnerable with, alleviated many of my concerns on whether I had the right competences and mindset. The result was that I needed to be closer to the sales department, to the front line. 

Navigating New Dynamics: Evolving Relationships

My thinking became clear. I had outlined my three priorities: a manager who gives me freedom to operate, a team who will support me in improving my Danish, and a job that brings me closer to the front lines of the business. But what are the other graduates doing? Camaraderie often thrived in our graduate batch, as we shared both challenges and personal triumphs. Now, the close-knit circle we shared was starting to loosen as everyone embarked on their unique journeys. With my application submitted and the interview process underway, my ability to maintain meaningful connections was tested, as we all balanced what to communicate and what to keep to ourselves. My offboarding experience was a success also due to the positive reinforcement and comic relief I got from fellow graduates, and I am forever grateful for those catch-ups.   

Currently, I work with managing assortment complexity for the Danish market, as a MAC Manager in Arla Denmark's Customer Marketing team. Our team works very closely with both sales and marketing, and my first two months in the job have been a success. 

To conclude this post, although the transition can undoubtedly be challenging, myself and so many other graduates who have walked this path are a testimony that you can navigate the journey with resilience and grace. Just remember to stay open, nurture your relationships and trust in your abilities.

Laura-Gabriela Dobrica

  F15 Graduate

Laura-Gabriela Dobrica