Day Two: Extra-Curriculars & The Support System
On the schedule for our second day was a short session on how we should communicate with future Falckoners (i.e. these blogs and the Falckoner Instagram) and an introduction to the personaleforening (staff association). The latter was also an opportunity to find out about the more unexpected aspects of being at Falck – like Falck Sport, Falck jagt og fiskeri (hunting and fishing) and MC Blå Lys (MC Blue Lights. Falck’s motorcycle club. Yes, Falck has a motorcycle club). On top of that there are the additional benefits we get as Falck employees like having a vintage ambulance as wedding transport or booking one of Falck’s special staff holiday homes. Maybe it is just that I am coming from the UK, or that I don’t have a background working for huge businesses, but these kinds of extracurricular activities were a real surprise. They also point to what we said in the Day One blog about how Falck feels as a company. As a graduate you really, really do not have to attend any of these things – in fact many of the people in our actual departments had no idea that most of these clubs exist. But I think it is important to remember that Falck is a 112-year-old company. Some of the frontline staff have been working for Falck for four or five decades. For those people Falck truly is a part of their family and being involved in these sorts of extracurriculars is an obvious choice. On the other hand, Falck is now a huge international organisation which requires quite different management from a Danish family institution. Striking the right balance between being a modern, effective & global business, while not forgetting the legacy, history & culture that Falck has, is one of the key challenges of Falck’s current transformation process and is relevant to all of the roles us graduates have.
Having recovered from the knowledge of Falck Hell’s Angels and fishing club, we all discussed how things were going. One of the big topics of conversation was how starting a new job can be quite overwhelming as you simultaneously try to understand just how complex Falck is, adjust to full-time working hours and attempt to grasp the challenges and opportunities ahead of you – all while trying to remember the names of the huge amount of people you’ve just met! Obviously, these are the kind of challenges any new job has, but the discussion points to one of the great things about the graduate programme – your fellow grads. It is both helpful and reassuring to know that everyone else is going through the same process. Our Falckoner WhatsApp group is constantly buzzing with support, advice and jokes, all of which help us navigate this new environment. During our meeting yesterday with the first generation of graduates, they discussed how they bonded and developed a friendship almost from day one, and I think we are in for a similar experience.
This peer support is on top of a whole host of official designated helpers. We have Maria, the manager of the graduate programme, who is there to make sure we get the most out of our two years. She is always available to help us with the administration and practical matters. Maria is also responsible for what rotations we have and the huge onboarding programme. Then we have our local managers, they are pushing us to make the most of our eight-month placements within their department. On top of that we have designated ‘buddies’, another employee working at our department for any troubleshooting that we don’t want to disturb our manager with. As if that is not enough support, we also have mentors. We’ll write more about them in a future blog, but our mentors are very senior staff members at Falck who work in a department not related to our own. Each mentor establishes their own relationship and they do vary in their styles, but this gives us another person to ask more high-level queries to: “How does the Finance department function?”; “where should I aim to be in five years?”; “does Falck own a hospital in Vladivostock?!”. They are much more focused on the long-term. If our manager is making sure the next eight months is great, and Maria is making sure we make the most of the next two years, the mentors are thinking five, ten, twenty years ahead. “Where do you want to be, and how can I help you to get yourself there” is the general theme. Finally, there is such a strong culture of helping each other out at Falck that everyone we meet both in and outside of our departments seems to offer us support as needed. This may all sound like way too much (and it certainly did to us before we started), but as each of these serves a slightly different purpose it all really helps to land you on your feet when you start.
Between learning about the extracurriculars and the Falckoner support network we of course also had some time devoted to our actual jobs in our own departments, though we will leave that to a future blog for now. If you would like to keep updated on what we are doing (and see what you could be doing next year!), follow us on Instagram @falckoners and keep reading these blogs. If you want to get in contact with the graduates for any questions you have, send a message through Instagram.