Graduate story - Diana Dinca

Graduate story - Diana Dinca

“Hey there! My name is Diana Dinca, I’m 24 years old and I come from Romania. I graduated from my master in Organisational Change & Consulting at RSM in August 2014, one year after moving to the Netherlands. I’m now working as a manager assistant in a global brand development role at Unilever. I’ve had this position for less than six months, but joined Unilever initially as in intern in September 2014.”


How did you decide on what you would like to do after your studies?

“I wanted to gain experience in the Netherlands. I initially applied for positions within the consulting industry, since that was the focus of my master programme, but I soon realised that the open positions were not what I had hoped for or specific to Dutch-speaking candidates. I then focused on marketing positions, since that was the main focus of my bachelor degree and previous experience. I thought about my skills and the things I like doing and matched them to the reality of the labour market.”


How did you start your job search?

“My application process started the moment classes were over. I participated in all the fairs I could join before that, but this was the moment in which the process became more serious. I knew I’d still be in the country while writing my thesis over the summer, so this was the best time. I scoured the internet, from RSM Career Services, to LinkedIn and Glassdoor. I also made a list of multinationals where speaking Dutch wasn't a mandatory requirement, and companies that had subsidiaries in Romania and would be inclined to take me on. I reached out to my friends for tips and connections. It wasn't a very organised system, I don't think it was even a system at all. I was just applying to the positions that I thought I would enjoy and in which I could grow and learn fast. And yes, I was hoping for a job, but I think focusing most of my efforts towards internships and graduate programmes was a more practical approach given my experience at the time.”


How did you first connect with the company you are working for?

“Unilever was one of my first choices from the beginning. I found the internship programme on LinkedIn and applied through the online platform. After a phone interview, I was invited for a face-to-face interview with the line manager and got the offer two days later. The whole process took roughly two months. At the same time, I was going through other interviews and luckily, in the end, I had options. I chose the one that I liked most from a learning and experience point of view.” 


What was the most difficult step in the application process?

“Initially, the biggest issue was the fact that I don’t speak Dutch. Of course this limited my options, as expected. While completing my internship, I started looking for a permanent position. My first choice was the company I was already at, but I also applied externally. I found that the experience has opened quite a few doors. Another aspect was the timing. Applying during the summer or right at the beginning of the year will not give you many options. It was not a fast or easy process for any of the positions; I had my fair share of rejections and missed opportunities, but I persevered. In the end, it paid off.” 


What was your key selling point when comparing yourself to other applicants?

“During interviews, I portrayed my international experience, language skills which have come in handy on a few occasions, and my practical approach to things. I like to think outside of the box and to create beautiful stories, but I also know that the key to most of the consumers is a no-nonsense approach. The balance between the two is probably where my strength lies. In terms of processes and tools, everything can be learned, it depends on how fast you are willing to do it.”


How did your studies help you during this process?

“I think this was what I had to explain most often: why did I choose a master outside of marketing, but am trying to work in marketing? For me, the two fields are not so different as to exclude each other; if anything, they complemented each other in the end. I have learned a lot during my studies and I apply the principles to everyday situations. Besides what was taught in classes, the experience of being abroad has been a learning process in itself. It’s not a small thing and, in my experience, employers see it as well.”