John Slattery recently completed his degree in Business and Management at DIT College of Business and shares with us his story, as he embarks on the next steps of his career. John was successful in his application for the Jameson Graduate Programme and relocated this Summer to Dubai as Brand Ambassador.
What attracted you to the Jameson Graduate Programme as a business graduate?
The major factor which first attracted me to the Jameson Graduate Programme was the prospect of gaining international experience. I’ve always wanted to live abroad but getting the chance to do so while representing a brand which is recognised worldwide seemed unbelievable to me. The fact that I’ll be living in Dubai for the next year while working on a brand like Jameson is a dream come true. The programme is so international and there are currently 91 graduates across 54 markets globally!
When I began to research the role itself I was even more attracted to the opportunity of becoming a brand ambassador. It seemed like the perfect mix of what I was interested in. I had always enjoyed my marketing modules in college and I was eager to put the theory into practice. A key element of the role is working on events, which is an area that I had worked in part-time throughout my time in college and I had always enjoyed the work. The role is field based which means that for a large part of my time I’ll be out and about talking to the trade and to consumers.
Career progression is something which holds great importance to graduates these days and it’s hugely emphasised throughout the programme. Many of the programme alumni have gone on to have great careers within Irish Distillers and the wider Pernod Ricard network globally. This is encouraging to see as a new graduate to the business.
What was the interview process for the graduate programme?
Before the interview process you must first submit a written application accompanied by a video application. The written aspect involves a number of questions as to why you feel that you are the right fit for the job. This really forces you to think about why the programme and the role is for you. Graduates are often then turned off by the idea of having to create the video and I know it does seem daunting having to talk in front of the camera! The idea behind the video application is to show off your personality and to display to the employer what makes you unique to all the other applicants. This is the applicant’s first impression with their potential future employer so I’d recommend putting a lot of effort into this while having a bit of fun with it as well. I’d advise people to not get too bogged down in the quality of their video as at the end of the day it’s the content that counts, these days the video quality on most iPhone’s is good enough.
If applicants are successful they are then invited into the first assessment centre which takes place in late February. The assessment centre consists of a presentation, a group assessment and an interview. The two-minute presentation is based on something that you are passionate about and this is an opportunity to show off how creative you are as well as your presentation skills. Usually, the quirkier and more abstract topics are the most memorable, I presented mine on my love for pizza!
The group assessment tested our marketing acumen as we were given an advertising problem and we were tasked to solve it. This assessment activity tested our ability to work in a team and we had to present our ideas at the end. I wouldn’t let this part of the process turn people off who don’t come from a business background, many people on the programme come from an array of different backgrounds and that is what makes the programme so diverse. The group assessment is then followed by an interview with HR personnel. There was then a second assessment centre in late April which follows a similar format.
Of course applicants are nervous attending the assessment centres but I’d advise them to try to be themselves and to let their personality shine through. The process may appear daunting at first but I would recommend any interested graduates to apply.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of applying for a graduate programme?
Graduates are highly valued in the workforce these days and are seen as powerful assets to any company. When I started with Jameson I received an intensive four weeks of induction training which has been invaluable to me as it’s assisted the bridge between studying and working. The skills and knowledge which I gained as a result of the induction training will certainly stand to me throughout my career.
Throughout many graduate programmes you will gain experience in a number of different areas of a business. This is a great way for graduates to figure out what role they want to pursue later in their career. On the Jameson International Graduate Programme I will experience a number of different areas within the business and I will hopefully find my area of interest which I will pursue following the programme.
Joining a graduate programme can also act as a direct route into a large internationally recognised company. These large organisations will often only take on employees who have a lot of work experience, something most graduates don’t have. This is where the opportunity lies with a graduate programme, an entry point into these companies.
”Studying Business & Management in DIT provided a brilliant balance of theory and practical work”
How did your degree and your college prepare you for the workforce?
Studying Business & Management in DIT provided a brilliant balance of theory and practical work. Throughout the four years we were constantly involved in group work which has given me the necessary skills to work well in a team. As well as this we were constantly being tasked with presentations during all of our modules. As a result of this the group work and presentations throughout the assessment centres came as second nature to me.
The fact that I was able to specialise and choose my modules throughout my course has meant that I’ve received the relevant learnings for my current role. I always chose modules which were focused on marketing, strategy and entrepreneurship throughout my years in DIT.
In my third year of Business & Management I was fortunate enough to do work experience in a marketing and events agency. Here I was able to put the theory which I had been learning in college into practice. Gaining this experience was invaluable and it definitely helped me land a place on the Jameson Graduate Programme.
How do you think this programme will help you in your future career?
I believe that the Jameson Graduate Programme will act as the perfect springboard for the future of my career. The fact that I will gain three years of international experience will be invaluable to my career and it’s something that is unheard of for a first job out of college. Living and working abroad will help me to learn about the local culture while understanding how businesses operate in another country.
The office which I’m being relocated to has a small team working on the Jameson brand so I’ll be given a great deal of responsibility from the offset. As a result of this I’ll be forced to adapt to the role immediately and develop my skillset accordingly.
I feel like working as a brand ambassador will give me an insight into so many different aspects of marketing and will therefore give me an idea as to the type of role that I’d like to pursue following the programme. As I mentioned previously, career progression is given a great deal of importance within the programme and I believe that there will be a lot of opportunities to progress within the company once the programme finishes.
What are your top tips for graduates when applying for jobs?
I’d advise graduates to attend all of the career fairs they can. The gradireland Graduate Careers Fair in the RDS is a great opportunity to see what kind of programmes are on offer. I remember Jameson had a huge presence at the fair and it was great to chat to current and past graduates on the programme. DIT also host a number of fairs on campus which are worth checking out.
After attending the grad fairs and identifying the programmes you’re interested in, I’d recommend doing some research on the company and what the role entails. Understanding the format of the application process is the next step as they usually vary between programmes. Another great way to find out about the programme and the application process is to reach out to someone who’s actually on the programme. Don’t be shy, they’re usually more than happy to help. I remember contacting a past DIT graduate who was on the programme and he was able to give me some great advice about applying. It’s then important to spend a lot of time and effort when creating your application. Many programmes will have a written application and this is your chance to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re fortunate enough to be invited for an interview or assessment centre it’s essential to prepare well. Interview preparation is key and having an idea of what kind of questions you may be asked is always helpful. The DIT Careers Office was a great resource for me, they were able to assist me with some tips and tricks when taking part in assessment centres.
Finally, I’d advise graduates to clean up their social media profiles. These days most employers will do a background check on you and the first thing they’ll check is your social media profiles. The last thing you want is for your potential employer to have a bad impression of you before they’ve even met you!
John Slattery – Graduate BSc Business and Management