It was sunny outside. I was having a quick lunch with a friend at the university bar when the phone rang. It was an unknown number and I decided to answer right away. On the other side there was a woman´s voice: “Hello! My name is Joanna Doe and I am calling you from … (one of the biggest marketing companies in the world). I would like to invite you to an interview at our offices in Lisbon.” I made a face to my friend…meaning it was an unusual call. “Thank you so much for your call and for considering me in the process” I responded. “But, before we agree to anything, I would like you to know that I am far from finishing my studies, I am at the first year of the International MSc in Business Administration (major in Marketing), which even includes a semester abroad.” Basically, I was trying to tell I was one year and a half away of starting my professional career. “That´s totally fine”, she said. And just like that, without any effort (at least related to job search), I had an interview at a dream company, at one of the best marketing companies in the world. UAU!
The Recruitment Process
This was the third interview in my life. I was a bit nervous of course, but not extremely nervous. I considered this to be a case of luck (so I thought) and there was not much pressure because I still had another year and a half to look for a job.
Before the actual interview, I had to complete some psychological tests and then all the interview was about what I wrote and my curriculum. I remember one question specifically: “tell me about your childhood”. I have great memories about my childhood. I grew up in the countryside, surrounded by cousins, dogs and nature. We had a lot of freedom to explore, to play and to build things. So, you can imagine, how much I talked about it and the enthusiam in my face. However, the same person who called me before, didn´t look impressed at all. She actually looked super bored with what I was saying. After I left I called my Mum: “Hi Mum, just to say it went ok, but I think she wasn´t at all interested in what I was saying”. I was wrong.
One week after, I got a voice message. The same lady saying she really liked me and wanted me to continue to the next phase: a full afternoon composed by three parts – a group dynamic, a presentation and an interview with the board of directors and the CEO. UAU! I couldn´t really believe this was happening!
The day of the selecting panel arrived. I was a bit more nervous than in the first interview. But still confortable given the year and a half ahead. It was a unique experience. Tough, very tough. Especially at the emotional level. But I must confess I had lots of fun. And, even if I didn´t go through, I was already happy with the enriching experience I had and the people I met throughout the process.
I was again at the university bar. And I got another phone call. This time I knew the number. “Hi Catarina…” I stopped breathing for a moment. It was either great or bad news. I could not tell by the tone of her voice. “I would like to tell you that your selecting panel went very well, and that we would like to offer you a contract. “oh my God oh my God oh my God” I though loudly to myself. One week after I was signing the contract to start working as a management trainee on September 1st 2011. It was May 2010 and I was 22 years old.
First Day at Unilever 🙂
I took some time explaining the above events because not only they taught me a lesson, but they also play a key role in exploring the reasons behind my decision to do a MLA.
All this time I thought I had luck, especially for receiving that initial call. But, soon after, I learnt from a professor that “luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. And in fact, I spent all my student life preparing for a moment like that. I just didn´t know it consciously. All the effort, all the hours of study, everything my parents invested in my education, got me ready for grabbing that opportunity.
The second thing is that, although that was an amazing thing that was happening to me, I didn’t put much time and effort (or any at all to be honest) into thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I was studying marketing and I was also a marketing teaching assistant at the time and I loved it. So, I thought marketing was the natural choice, therefore, signing a contract with this big company should be a dream come true.
To be continued…