Life after graduation can be intimidating. When I graduated from University in September 2017, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Right after I got my diploma in Economics my mind started racing. Where do I even start looking for jobs? Will I move to another country? Am I supposed to choose something I want to do for the rest of my life?
Although I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do I did know some things:
I am from Spain and although I love my country, I have always been looking for international experiences. I was sure I wanted to live in a different country for a few years.
I wanted to work for a company that makes a positive difference in the world. Telecoms industry was high on my list. Telecommunication is the backbone of today’s society and without it, many of the things we have today would cease to exist. It’s also great because there is a lot of innovation which keeps things exciting.
I wanted to keep my options open. A rotational graduate scheme is the perfect option for aren’t so sure about what they want to do. Changing jobs every 6 months or 1 year provides with the perfect opportunity to slowly finding out more about your career interests and dislikes.
If you want it, go get it
After extensive research and applying to many other positions, I came across Liberty Global in October 2017. I had never heard of it, but their graduate program seemed to tick all my boxes, so I decided to apply to their Graduate Scheme in Amsterdam.
End to end, the recruitment process lasted 2 months. I applied around mid-October and received an offer in December. The first time I visited the Liberty Global offices was the day of the assessment centre, the last step of the process. I was invited to their London headquarters to participate in a full day of interviews and case studies with about 15 other candidates from many different countries.
I was impressed by the offices. As soon as I walked in, I could feel this was a modern, fast-paced company. In some ways it also had the vibe of a start-up: Starbucks coffee machines to make your own coffee for free, pool tables, cabinets full of cereals, chill zones with TV, books and couches.
Your degree means little; motivation beats all
The set-up of the assessment centre was a nice mix of formal and informal interviews, both in a group and individual. Because I don’t have a background in finance, I was a bit scared of the technical questions. If you are in the same situation don’t worry! It is not a prerequisite to have a finance degree for the graduate program, in fact, our CFO Charlie Bracken studied history at university and there are finance graduates in the scheme with an engineering or mathematics background. Having good problem-solving skills and being motivated will make you succeed in the technical part of the interview.
Be open to change
Around 2 weeks after the assessment centre I received a call confirming I would be joining Liberty Global! It was time to pack my things, say goodbye to friends and family and move to Amsterdam, the city of bikes, freedom and canals.
Liberty Global provides a lot of support. They arranged 2 weeks of accommodation and hired a relocation agency to help with everything from setting up a bank account to finding a new flat.
Moving to a new country can be scary, especially when you don’t know anyone there, and that’s okay! My recommendation is that you should do it. Living abroad helps you learn a lot about different things, grow as a person and get to know yourself better. One of my biggest worries was whether I was going to make new friends. The great thing about the graduate programme is that there are tens of other people your age that are in the same situation. There is always something going on or someone ready to hangout!
Learn from everything and be patient
For my first rotation in Liberty Global I joined the International Tax Team. I was lucky to have a manager that invested a lot of time on my development and that cared about my interests. My first assignment was a project tailored to my preferences. Looking back, I learnt so much during my first 6 months in Liberty Global. University was just the start of my learning.
Be patient if you are given smaller project work in the first few months, responsibility will come. Especially at the beginning, working on your soft skills is much more important than anything else. Learning how to navigate the business, developing self-awareness, and working on your leadership. I have realized that having great soft skills is a huge game-changer as you go through your career.
Don’t hide from your mistakes and move on
During each rotation I had completely different challenges. For my second rotation I joined Procurement as an assistant buyer. The main difference compared to my first placement is that I was way more exposed to the outside world and other industry professionals. Being an assistant buyer involves a lot of negotiation with external suppliers. My main challenge as an assistant buyer was the fear of not being taken seriously by those I was negotiating with. However, I was provided with innumerable training sessions and given a lot of freedom to make my own decisions, which made me feel empowered.
Building trust within your team and manager is key to getting exciting work. It is not about getting everything right. I made many mistakes back then and I keep making them, probably even more, and that’s a good sign. As you start taking more initiative it’s completely normal to make more errors. To inspire trust in people you just need to be honest when these things happen and take responsibility for them.
Today I’m in my third rotation. I’m a Business Controller for connectivity projects. As you advance through the program the responsibilities you get are much bigger, even if the role is completely new. Expectations become higher and that’s okay, it means you are growing as a professional and you can do it. Say yes to every opportunity even when you feel you are not prepared for it. Everything you learn in each rotation will help you succeed in the next one, even when they seem like completely unrelated roles. Sometimes colleagues will ask for your knowledge about departments or work you have done in previous rotations because they need it for their work and that’s really rewarding! Now you are not just learning but also showing things to others.
Being connected is key for your success in all aspects of life, including your career, and that’s why as a graduate in Liberty Global you will be encouraged to dedicate a good part of your time to networking. For me this was a challenge as I don’t think of myself as an extroverted, innate networker. The reality is that networking is inevitable when you are rotating departments. You will know so many people just from the fact that you worked in their team or collaborated with them in a project.
The first group of people you will inevitably network with are your fellow graduates. I would say the graduate community is one of my biggest supports. I go to other graduates all the time whenever I want feedback on a presentation, need some data or just have any question about work.
Liberty Global organizes many social events. There are always things happening such as training, team outings, lunches, parties, gardening club, etc. For example, every year Liberty Global organizes The Big Ride for Africa, a cycling challenge for raising charity funds for education in Africa. People from all Liberty Global offices attend this event, including our CEO, Mike Fries, which makes it a perfect opportunity to meet new people across the business.
One of the most important things I have learnt during networking is that so many successful people has “fallen into” their line of work. I would even dare to say this is the case for most people. It is very reassuring to talk to people that absolutely love their jobs but that didn’t think they would be doing that when they first started working.
Choosing a first job was a challenge and there are many things I wish I had known back then. My final advice is that if an opportunity looks good don’t overthink it and just go for it, your first job will most likely not be your last so take the time you need to figure things out. Take personal challenges such as living abroad and try to make many friends, both at work and outside. And finally, remember no one is expected to be perfect so ask for help whenever you need it, there will be a lot of people out there that want to see you succeed!