Graduate Trainee-programmer: En kritisk analyse af de faktiske effekter

Christine Egger Kjærsgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


With Graduate Trainee Programmes as its pivotal point – two year intensive career development programmes offered by large international companies to a selected handful of top-of-class MBA graduates –, this thesis examines the output of these programmes from the graduate’s point of view. This particular field of interest is a response to two primary observations. Firstly a substantial critique of these programmes in contemporary career literature, in which they are accused of generating future managers in an outdated and elitist manner, exceedingly out of tune with the modern, individualistic understanding of career as well as the unpredictable and ever-changing business society of today. Secondly, there are inquiries that indicate that the graduate companies themselves do not possess sufficient in-depth knowledge of the programmes’ longer term effects on the graduates, which may result in the loss of considerable investment, do the graduates ultimately choose to leave the company out of dissatisfaction of some sort. An explorative study was conducted by means of an opening questionnaire inquiring into specific levels of programme satisfaction and in addition hereto the former graduates’ estimation of their own career self-management. This response was followed up by elaborating interviews with four former graduates from large Danish companies. A thorough examination of contemporary career literature including main concepts such as organizational career management, career self-management and the psychological contract provided the necessary theoretical framework for analyzing the present results. The findings were interesting in several respects. First of all, the programmes were overall rated rather positively by the 26 respondents, denying preliminary presumptions of the contrary. However, there were some indications of possible frustrations centering especially on unmet expectations and a lack of career guidance after the programme; indications that also became markedly visible in the personal interviews with the former graduates. Second of all, the graduates showed very proactive behaviours of managing their own careers; the efforts, however, were primarily aimed at furthering their careers within the present organization and only to a lesser degree outside. Furthermore, the graduates generally expressed very high expectations of organizational attention and support, which did not only indicate that the general mindset of young MBAs today is somewhere in between the notions of traditional and hierarchical career paths on the one hand and the new boundaryless and highly individualistic career paths on the other, but also that graduate programmes as a concept are still able to generate valuable synergy effects for the benefit of both parties. Nevertheless, this thesis finds reasons to recommend certain adjustments in the design and execution of graduate programmes going forward. Firstly, the graduate organizations ought to secure a better balance between the early promises of the programme held up against the graduates’ hopes and expectations. Not least in this survey, it was evident that psychological contracts out of tune can cause unwanted doubts and frustrations. Secondly, a recurring issue of this thesis proved to be the transition from graduate to ‘regular’ employee; a shift that a majority expressed to be too abrupt. A greater focus on support and guidance some time after the ‘official’ end of the programme could therefore possibly increase the likelihood of the former graduate prolonging his or her further career development within the present organization.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages88