My first trainee placement: Marketing Communications


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I spent my first three-month trainee placement at my home department: Marketing Communications. The main responsibility of this department is to develop global marketing communication strategies for trucks, buses, engines, services, and parts. The strategies are, then, transformed into tactical marketing activities and tools, such as web campaign sites, brochures, advertisements, direct marketing material, videos, promotional items and graphical guidelines for marketing communication material. A typical activity is the preparation for international trade fairs, such as the IAA in Hanover, the IFAT in Munich, the Dubai International Boat Show or Busworld in Kortrijk. Another main task at Marketing Communications is to continuously update the brochures of our products and services.

However, my very first marketing project was a little bit different: I was responsible for coordinating the production of the Scania 125 year campaign book. This year, Scania celebrates its 125th anniversary and many activities are planned throughout the year 2016 in order to celebrate this special occasion. The campaign book summarizes the background, marketing strategy, core message, and target groups for the Scania 125 year project. Furthermore, it provides an overview over the marketing material that is being produced for the anniversary, such as posters, roll-ups, videos, promotional items etc..

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I realized very quickly, that the daily work at Scania is very cross-functional. This was no different with my project. In order to coordinate the project, I had to meet with various departments at Scania to collect all information necessary for the campaign book. Hence, I met with colleagues from the department of Corporate Relations, Event & Exhibition, Employer Branding, Parts & Services (Vehicle Accessories and Branding Products) and Business Support (Image Desk). We decided to develop a Scania 125 year logotype in different variations, which was then printed on different promotional items, such as flags, T-shirts, umbrellas, key rings, mouse pads, pins, pens, mugs, balloons, and chocolate. Furthermore, we designed posters, roll ups, wall banners, and produced a video together with an external advertising agency. Once the campaign book was written, it was published internally to all Scania distributors in the world. The distributors could, then, decide by themselves which marketing material they want to use locally in order to celebrate Scania’s 125th anniversary.

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All of us trainees have spent a period abroad at a Scania distributor this year. I always got very excited when my trainee colleagues sent me pictures of Scania 125 year marketing material that is used at a Scania distributor, for instance, in Brazil or Holland. It is great to see that the marketing material, which I helped to design, is used all over the world to celebrate Scania’s 125th anniversary!

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Getting my heavy truck driver’s licence


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Each year, Scania offers its trainees to take the heavy truck licence (C-licence). With the C-licence, you are authorized to drive any kind of truck, regardless of its weight. Since I got my driver’s licence for passenger cars in Germany, I had to exchange my German driver’s licence into a Swedish “B-licence” at the Swedish transport agency, first.

During the introduction weeks of the Scania Graduate Trainee Program last summer, we spent two days at “Grönlunds”, which is a driving school for heavy trucks and buses. We attended theory lessons, in which we repeated basic traffic rules and learned more about truck-related regulations, such as restrictions concerning “driving and rest periods”. We also learned the use of a digital tachograph. In addition, we were given a heavy folder and several smaller brochures, which we had to study for the theoretical exam. It was quite a challenge to read and memorize all the material in Swedish in the evening, after having stood at Scania’s assembly lines all day long.

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On the day of the theoretical exam, I was very nervous. The exam is a computer-based test and is comprised of 60 questions, which have to be answered within 40 minutes. Five of the 60 questions are so-called “test questions”, which means that it does not matter if these questions are answered correctly. However, you do not know if the question you are trying to answer is a “real question” or a “test question”. Hence, 44 out of the 55 “real questions” have to be answered correctly in order to pass the theoretical exam. After 40 minutes, a note on the computer screen showed me that I had just passed the theoretical exam for my heavy truck licence. I was extremely relieved and proud, when I saw that message.

A few weeks later, I completed the practical exam with a 18t Scania truck. First, I had to perform a security check on the truck. Furthermore, I had to answer a few questions and calculate how much payload I could have on different roads, depending on the road classification (BK1, BK2, BK3). Afterwards, I had to prove my driving skills on the highway, as well as in rural and urban areas. Besides, I had to reverse the truck around a corner, and I also had to park the truck backwards against a loading bay, so that 10cm of the tailgate were placed on the loading bay, when opening the tailgate. After 45 minutes, the examiner told me that I had passed the practical exam and congratulated me on my heavy truck licence.

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The workshop practice


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The three-week workshop practice, which is part of the six-week introductory program at Scania, was one of the activities that I had been looking forward to the most since I signed my working contract with Scania. It takes place in August and September each year and is part of the introduction program for the newly recruited trainees.

There are three production facilities in Södertälje: bus and truck chassis, axels and gearboxes, and engines. The aim of the workshop practice is to obtain first-hand experience of how Scania’s products are assembled and to get an insight into the daily work flow at the production lines.

Due to safety reasons, the regulations concerning what clothes or shoes to wear when working at the assembly lines are very strict. Therefore, each trainee was given a pair of safety shoes on our first day at Scania. Furthermore, we all received a workshop outfit, consisting of work trousers, T-shirts and a sweater.

I still remember the moment, when I entered the chassis production facility for the first time. There was so much happening simultaneously that I did not know where to look first. The factory was surprisingly clean and light, all components were perfectly organized on the shelves, and every single step along the assembly line was precisely structured and planned in great detail. When walking through the production hall, you had to make sure to stay within the yellow lines, which are drawn on the floor, since there are so many small trucks, such as forklift trucks, driving around in order to supply the different workshop stations with new material. Thus, one of the first rules we learned was that these trucks were always allowed to go first.

Wearing the Scania outfit that we were given earlier, we trainees were dressed in the exact same way as all the other assemblers at the production line. Even the workshop managers all the way up to the plant manager wore at least the beige Scania T-shirt. This is, again, a typical example, that shows Scania’s unique organizational culture, where everybody – from the assembler to the top manager – feels like being part of one big family.

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When I was at the chassis assembly line, I worked with the team that put the engines into the bus chassis. I was surprised by the fact that a lot of work is still performed manually, for example, pushing the chassis from one work station to the next at the end of each tact time. The tools that are used in the chassis production are very heavy and not so easy to handle and it was exhausting to stand up during the entire day. Thus, my feet and shoulders hurt quite a bit when I got home from work.

During my second week of workshop practice, I was at the rear axle assembly line. The tact time, which is the time spent on each unit, is a lot shorter compared to the bus chassis production. Furthermore, since the rotation of an axle from one work station to the next is completely automated, every movement is prescribed in detail and has to be followed strictly. In addition, taking a break for drinking a sip of water, eating a snack or going to the restroom is steered by the tact time.

However, the workshop practice has been a very valuable experience for me. From day one, I felt like being part of the team and the assemblers were very patient and thorough when they taught me their tasks. The production facilities are really “the heart of Scania” and I have even more respect for the Scania assemblers, who are standing at the production lines every single day, now, after I have worked there myself. The assemblers’ dedication and commitment to Scania is truly exceptional and is definitely one of the reasons why Scania can retain such a high level of quality in its products.

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The introduction weeks


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The trainee program at Scania started in August with a six-week introductory program. Three of the six weeks were filled with lectures, seminars, and various other activities.

On one of the first days at Scania, we visited the Scania DemoCentre in Södertälje. The DemoCentre is Scania’s showroom where you can test drive different Scania products. More than fourteen thousand visitors from around the world come to the DemoCentre each year. Among them are representatives of major customers such as local councils, fire services, and the military, as well as international politicians. A wide range of vehicles can be tested on the test track – from distribution trucks to 25.25-metre rigs to hybrid Scania buses. The trucks are fully loaded and most of them are available in truck and trailer combinations. There is a Demodriver for each truck and bus who provides technical information and driving advice.

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Having never driven a truck before, I was very excited when I climbed into the driver’s cabin of one of the Scania trucks for the first time. It was an amazing feeling sitting high up in such a heavy and robust vehicle and experiencing the power of the V8 engine, when the truck easily mastered a steep hill on the test track. I also test drove a hybrid Scania bus, which was quite a unique experience, too.

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Another highlight of the introduction weeks was that we got to meet all executive board members including the CEO.

One of the seminars that we attended during the introduction weeks, was an intercultural training, where we learned more about the differences between the Swedish and German business cultures. German companies, for instance, tend to be more hierarchical, whereas consensus decision-making is very important for Swedish companies. Being aware of such cultural differences is crucial for successful German-Swedish business relations. Since the collaboration between Scania and MAN has intensified after Scania became part of the Volkswagen Group, understanding the German corporate culture has become essential for Scania.

It is very important for Scania that its employees have an appropriate work-life balance. Therefore, Scania motivates its employees to take a break from work once in a while in order to attend one of the gym classes that are offered at the Scania Health Center or to work out at the Scania gym. Hence, we trainees got the opportunity to test a Kettlebells class at the health center, which was a lot of fun.

On one of the weekends during the introduction weeks, we travelled to Barnens Ö together with the trainees from the year 2014/15. Barnens Ö is an island north of Stockholm and we stayed in a Swedish cottage directly at the water, where we celebrated a typical Swedish “kräftskiva” (crayfish party). It was also a great opportunity to get to know the former trainees and to ask them questions about their journey at Scania.

The activities mentioned above are only some of the highlights of the introduction weeks. Another highlight was definitely the three weeks that we spent at the Scania assembly lines, which I will write more about in my next blog entry.

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My first day as a Graduate Trainee


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In the morning of my very first work day in August 2015, I drove to the Scania headquarters, nervous and excited to meet the other trainees. The only information that I had gotten was what place and time I should be there and that I should take sports clothes with me for an outdoor activity. The meeting point was the Scania museum, where the trainees of 2015 gathered to start the day with a Fika.

In 2015, Scania hired 26 trainees (10 female and 16 male trainees), all of them recent university graduates with a maximum of one year’s working experience. The trainees had been recruited by different functional departments; hence we are nine Production trainees, six within R&D, two in Sales & Marketing, two in Commercial Operations, two in Purchasing, two in Business Control, two in Finance, and one in IT. Besides me, there is one other trainee, who is originally from Germany, as well as one trainee from Estonia, while the rest of the trainees are Swedes.

On that first day at Scania, it was very easy to start a conversation with the other trainees. It seemed like we were on the same wavelength, since we all have similar backgrounds and are rather outgoing people who like to socialize. After the Fika, we were welcomed by the trainee coordinators, who gave us more information on the structure of the introductory program and the trainee program as a whole.

In the afternoon, we went to Scania’s own health and fitness club, which is just a few minutes’ drive away from Scania’s headquarters. We were asked to change to our sportswear and to put on a blue work overall and helmet. Putting on the helmet, we became a little anxious what Scania had in store for us. What followed was an outside teambuilding activity, during which we had to execute different tasks and solve problems in smaller teams. The weather was beautiful and it was a lot of fun and definitely helped us trainees to get to know each other better as well as bond as a team.

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In the evening, I was exhausted from all the new impressions that I had gained on that first day, but I was also very happy to be part of such a nice group of trainees and excited to go back to work the next day in order to continue the trainee journey together with the other trainees.

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The structure of a trainee program


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Trainee programs at big international companies are usually structured in a similar way. In this blog post, I will describe the structure of Scania’s Graduate Trainee Program in detail in order to give you a better understanding of how a trainee program might look like.

In short, Scania’s trainee program is composed of an introduction phase followed by four three-month practice periods, which take place at the home department and three other departments. During the entire trainee program, each trainee is supervised by the manager that has recruited the trainee, and together, they decide where the trainee will spend the other three practice periods. Between the practice periods, the trainees gather for seminar weeks at the headquarter.

The trainee program usually starts in the middle of August. All newly recruited trainees spend the first six weeks together in an introductory program. Three weeks of the introduction take place at the chassis, axles & gearboxes, and engine assembly lines in form of a workshop practice. The other three weeks are filled with lectures, seminars, and group activities.

After these six weeks, the trainees start their first trainee period at their respective home department, which is the department that has recruited them. The first seminar week is usually held in December just before the end of the first trainee period, and with the beginning of the next year, the second trainee period starts. Trainees within Production might, for instance, switch to a totally different department, such as Purchasing or Finance. However, the trainees within Sales & Marketing and Commercial Operations typically spend this period at the Scania Dealers in Malmö, Gothenburg or Stockholm.

In the middle of April, the trainees gather again for a seminar week in Södertälje, before they each take a one-week intensive language class in the UK, Germany or Spain. Afterwards, the third practice period starts, in which the trainees work abroad at one of Scania’s distributors. These year’s trainees travelled to countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Germany. The practice period abroad is followed by a four-week vacation, which gives the trainees the opportunity to discover their host country or neighbouring countries.

After the summer break, the fourth practice period starts, which the trainees usually spend at a department in Södertälje, Luleå or Oskarshamn. Sales & Marketing trainees, like me, often take the chance to deepen their knowledge within sales and marketing. Therefore, I am currently working at the department “Sales Trucks – Europe” during my last practice period.

After 14 months, the trainee program ends, and a permanent position awaits the trainees at their home department. However, a trainee can also choose to work for a different department, if a job vacancy is available.

During the trainee program, the trainee is not only supervised by the home department’s manager; he or she is also assigned a personal mentor, typically a former trainee who has worked for about one year after the trainee program.

To summarize, a trainee program at a big international company usually implies spending a period abroad at a subsidiary, working at the assembly lines, taking part in lectures and seminars, and being supported by a personal mentor for the duration of the program.

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Applying for a trainee program


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The application processes for trainee programs at big international companies are often structured in a similar way. In order to give you a better insight into the individual steps of the application process, I will share my own experience with you, when I applied for Scania’s Graduate Trainee Program in 2014.

First, I had to create a profile on Scania’s career website where I uploaded my CV, letter of motivation, and supporting documents (degree certificate etc.). Directly after I had sent in my application, I received an e-mail from Scania, which confirmed the submission of my application.

One week later, I was invited to perform two online tests: the Adjustable Competence Evaluation (ACE), a test which investigates one’s ability for complex reasoning, as well as the Master Person Analysis (MPA), a personality test which looks at one’s behavioural preferences, individually and in relation to others. After I had performed the tests, I received a summary of the results, and I was very surprised that a computer test was able to grasp my personality so perfectly.

Not even a week later, a woman from Scania’s HR department called me and invited me to the first interview round. Since I was living in Germany at that time, she suggested that the first interview was done via Skype. I was quite nervous since this was my first job interview in Swedish, but the recruiter made me feel comfortable and the interview atmosphere was very welcoming. It felt more like having a conversation than being bombarded with questions. It became obvious to me that it was important for Scania to get to know me as a person, and therefore, the discussion of the personality test results played an essential part during the interview.

It took about one week again, until I received an e-mail from the recruiter, in which she asked me to name a contact person, with whom she could talk about me. I gave her the contact details of my supervisor during my internship at the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Only two days later, I received a phone call that I had made it to the second interview round, an assessment center at Scania in Södertälje.

The assessment center took place ten days later and was scheduled for two days. There were four trainee positions available within Sales and Marketing and eight applicants were invited to the assessment center. Thus, four of the applicants took part on the first day and the other four participated on the second day. I was the only non-Swede in my group, therefore, the assessment center was held in Swedish.

The assessment center started with a health check and drug test at Scania’s medical center. Afterwards, we met the four managers for the four trainee positions and had to solve a case study in the group. Then we had lunch at one of Scania’s cafeterias with some former Sales and Marketing trainees. After lunch we had five individual interviews, with the four managers and the HR department. In the interviews, the managers also presented their departments and described the tasks of the trainee positions.

Three days later, one of the managers called me and offered me the trainee position within the Marketing Communications department, and I accepted the offer right away.

I would like to encourage you all to apply for a trainee program, even if you might think that you do not fulfil all of the requirements. Do not miss this opportunity!

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Queen of the road


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After years of tough exams, late evenings (and long weekends) in computer labs, litres and litres of coffee and numerous student partys, it was (finally) time for me to take the next step out in the real world. The world of work. And what way would be better to start than as a Graduate Trainee? I can’t think of any! In this blog I will tell you about the life as a trainee and hopefully inspire you to apply for a graduate trainee position as well!

But who am I? And in which computer lab rooms did I really spend my evenings? My name is Charlotte Jalkebo. I am 25 years old, born and raised in Eskilstuna, and that’s where I returned after my graduation. I spent most of my study time in the A-house and the C-house at Campus Valla in Linköping (and some confused occasions in the B-house). I studied Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and and continued with a Masters of Science in product development and technical design. My profile throughout my education has been physical and cognitive product ergonomics.

I remember well the day when I got that one call that changed my life. I was the next Scania Graduate Trainee of 2014 (everything that we are proud of, we put Scania in front of). I got my dream job! Research & Development trainee within Styling and Vehicle Ergonomics. Can you believe it! Fantastic! The time from that call to when we first started the trainee program felt like a half eternity – and today that day is exactly 4 months ago.

So what has happened since I started that summer day the 18th of August? Well, a lot. I have worked in production, met with- and listened to many inspiring managers, taken driving licence for heavy truck (C ), and for heavy truck with heavy trailer (CE – am I a real trucker now?). I have worked at my home department and gotten education in both presentation technique and leadership. Amazing!

Tomorrow is my last day of my first period. It feels kind of sad leaving my colleagues, but I know that in the beginning of next year I am up for a great new challenge.

Stay tuned!

Charlotte Jalkebo

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Arrividerci, Södertälje!


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Nu är det sista dagen på min tredje traineeperiod. Eftersom det är tredje gången börjar jag få lite rutin på det här: utvärdering med chefen, avslutningslunch eller fika, säga hejdå till alla och städa ur min arbetsplats. Jag kommer att sakna SPS Office och verkligen försöka minnas allt jag lärt mig under de här tre månaderna för att ta med mig till framtida jobb.

Min nervositet innan perioden över att jag inte kunde Scaniahuset som ett rinnande vatten har bytts ut till ett självförtroende över att jag kanske inte kan kopiera det från minne men, vilket är ännu bättre, börjar förstå det. Jag har också kommit till en ganska skön insikt. Scania jobbar ständigt med att förbättra, och lever i en värld där vi alltid ska bli bättre. Det betyder dock inte att man måste vara världsbäst på allt på en gång. Det är okej att vara sämre på något så länge man har en plan för hur man ska bli bättre och är på väg i rätt riktning. Hur ska man annars våga erkänna att något är dåligt? Och om man inte erkänner det, hur ska man då kunna jobba för att bli bättre?

Även om det är tråkigt att sluta är det spännande att gå på semester för första gången. Bättre sent än aldrig går jag på min första betalda semester. Ett helt nytt koncept efter många studieår och sommarjobb! Det känns nästan lite overkligt men mina kompisar som har provat säger att man vänjer sig ganska snabbt 🙂 Antagligen kommer mina veckor försvinna i ett nafs.

Efter semestern bär det av till Trento, Italien, och tre månader som praktikant på avdelningen Pre-sales. Så arrividerci, Södertälje, vi ses igen i November.

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Konsten att överleva pendlandet till jobbet


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Pendla…

Ordet har alltid haft en smak av avsky i min munnen. Jag har inte ens behövt ljuda bokstäverna utan det har räckt med att forma läpparna efter ordet och  det har gått en rysning längs ryggraden på mig. Tidigare har jag aldrig behövt tagit mig alltför långa distanser för att komma till skola eller jobb. Nu bor jag i Solna och jobbar i Södertälje. Färdsträckan på 39,2 km resulterar i en och en halv timmes pendling (enkel väg!) som jag har varje morgon och sedan igen på eftermiddag. För de som bara kan tala i fotbollstermer (har träffat sådana personer) så är det längden på 373 och en tredjedels fotbollsplaner.

Fast jag har lärt mig att det är inte så farligt med pendling trots allt (bortsett från signalfel, spårfel, vagnfel, lokfel, skyltfel, datafel och SL-folkets medfödda fel). Hemligheten är så enkel, man tar med sig en bok eller ett stycke resesällskap på sin pendlingsfärd så blir det ganska gemytligt (bortsett från skrikande barn i sätet bredvid – inte mysigt alls). Under mina resor till jobbet så har jag i skrivandets stund avverkat Stieg Larssons Millenium Trilogi och är nu inne på min fjärde bok som avhandlar finansiell historia.

Dock orkar man inte läsa alla gånger och då är det bra med roligt folk runt omkring sig. I dessa forum finns egentligen inga gränser och det spårar gärna lite grann. Även om diskutionen börjar kring USA’s Superutskotts hantering av den skenande statsskulden så slutar det gärna vid att Nils (en annan trainee) borde döpas om till Nulf. Ina och Cissis (två andra traineer) viker sig dubbelt av skratt och får trötta pendlare att sätta morgonkaffet i fel strupe. Men visst blir det roligare att pendla…i alla fall för mig, så tack för det.

Bill & Bull

Bill och Bull delar en Metro i morgonrusningen

-Jens

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