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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How to choose the right company

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One of the most important aspects when looking for your very first job is finding “the right company”. A company that fits you best, that has an organizational culture that suits your personality and that enables you to achieve your personal and professional goals, whatever they might be. Sometimes it can be difficult to assess a company’s culture simply by looking at its website. However, as soon as you meet its employees face-to-face for the very first time, for instance during a job interview, you get a better feeling for the atmosphere within the company. Listen to the questions the company’s recruiters ask you and observe the way the recruiters treat you as a person, and you will easily understand if the company has a very competitive “elbow culture” or if it is a company that truly values a work-life-balance. My advice to you is to ask yourself “the right questions” and, then, to simply listen to your gut feeling when meeting the company for the first time.

The first question I asked myself, when looking for my first job position was: In what industry would I like to work in?

I have a Master in International Business Studies and, thus, do not have an engineering background. However, I always liked technical classes, for example physics in high school, and missed this part during my studies a little. Therefore, I wanted to work for a company that produces a complicated technical product. The innovative strength in the automotive industry is fascinating and the next decades hold so many new developments in store such as platooning, autonomous driving, and connectivity. I understood that working for a company in the automotive industry would enable me to learn new things every day and to develop my technical knowledge further. Hence, it became clear to me that I wanted to work in the automotive industry.

Secondly, I asked myself in what department I would like to work at.

The field of strategic management has always been the main focus of my studies. In addition, I completed classes in international marketing and project management, which aroused my interest in the development and implementation of marketing strategies and projects. I also deepened my marketing knowledge by participating in a research project at the university – in cooperation with the German Football League (DFL) on the topic “Brand Associations of and Brand Loyalty towards Professional Football Clubs: An Empirical Study of German and Indian Football Fans“. The project enabled me to broaden my knowledge in market research as well as to gain experience in brand management. Furthermore, I became familiar with the marketing and sales business during internships at Telstra Corporation Limited in Australia and the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Sweden. I was involved in the administration of and communication with various business clients as well as the customer acquisition process. Additionally, I conducted market analyses and market research projects, for example a project for the measurement of customer satisfaction. Both, the research project at the university as well as the internships confirmed my enthusiasm for the international marketing and sales business. Accordingly, I decided to pursue a career in Sales & Marketing.

Then, I wondered, whether I should apply for a trainee program or directly for a position within Sales & Marketing.

Since I studied International Business, the lectures and seminars I attended have been quite generic and theoretical. Thus, I did not really feel prepared enough to start a job in Sales and Marketing right away. A trainee program gives you the opportunity to get to know the company insight and out. In the best case, you are able to observe the company from production to sales and from the dealers to the headquarters. You will stand at the production line at 6 o’clock in the morning and you will meet the CEO for a meeting in the afternoon. A good trainee program enables you to learn and develop, to observe and question, and to suggest and deliver. And after the trainee program, you will have gained so many new insights, you will really KNOW the company and how things work, and you will feel best prepared for your very first job position at this company. There was no doubt in my mind, that a trainee program was what I wanted to do.

Thus, I asked myself the final question: At which company in the automotive industry would I like to complete a trainee program in Sales & Marketing?

My studies and internships indicate a very strong international focus, therefore, I wanted to start my professional career at a leading international company. I completed two internships at the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, hence, I speak Swedish fluently and I am very familiar with the Swedish business culture. I definetely could imagine myself working at a Swedish company. When comparing different companies in the automotive industry, Scania stood out to me right away. It seemed to me as if Scania has a unique organizational culture that is in alignment with my own values and goals. This positive impression was confirmed during my first face-to-face meeting with one of the recruiters. After a second meeting at the headquarters in Södertälje and after having met even more employees and former trainees at Scania, my gut feeling told me that this was it: I fit to Scania and Scania fits to me. I have worked at Scania for a year now – a year full of exciting but also challenging experiences. But I have never regretted my decision and I am very curious to find out what the future at Scania has in store for me.

Thus, I encourage you all to ask yourself these questions and to figure out what your personal and professional goals are and most importantly what kind of company you would like to work for. And then, just listen to your gut feeling! All the best and good luck!

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Hello and welcome to my blog


Hello, my name is Alexandra Wilbs and I am a blogger at TraineeBloggen. This is my very first blog post on TraineeBloggen, therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you.

I am from Germany, where I attained a Master of Science in International Business Studies at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. During my studies, I spent two semesters abroad at the universities of Uppsala and Linköping. Additionally, I completed two internships at the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm. Hence, Sweden has become my second home and communicating in Swedish in a business setting is perfectly natural for me.

The field of strategic management has always been the main focus of my studies. Furthermore, I became familiar with the sales and marketing business during my internships in Sweden and Australia, where I worked at Australia’s largest telecommunications and media company, Telstra Corporation Limited.

Since my studies and my internships both indicate a strong international focus, it was very important for me to start my professional career in a leading international company. In August 2015, I started working as a Graduate Trainee in Sales & Marketing at Scania. Scania is a perfect fit for me and Scania’s engineering prowess and orientation towards innovation and sustainability fascinate me. Besides, the Scania Graduate Trainee Program offers me the possibility to apply and to deepen my previously acquired experiences and skills as well as my passion for international business relations in an exciting and challenging working environment.

Stay tuned for my next blog posts, in which I will give you a better insight into my life as a Scania Graduate Trainee.

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