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’So many applications…why should I apply?’ plus YOUR questions – a compilation!

Category: Business Processes European Business Management Global Marketing International Operations Business | 25 comments

Hi again!

So sorry it took me quite a while to upload my second blog post. Thanks for your comments on my first post and questions so far. I’ve been receiving some similar questions and thought that writing a blog compiling the ‘top’ questions I’ve been asked would be a good idea. With that in mind, and my experience at various Novo Nordisk career events both as a participant and a corporate representative, I will share some of the relevant and key learnings and questions that will hopefully be helpful for you.

There are so many applications, what are my chances? (i.e. I’ve heard that the graduate programme at Novo Nordisk is very competitive…?)

Yes, the graduate programme at Novo Nordisk is competitive and we do have an increasing amount of applications during the past recent years. However to be fair, and in my opinion, all graduate programmes are competitive since it offers candidates to experience different parts of organization during a short time period and thereby gain insight into the overall business of the company. One thing I would like to emphasize is, if you are interested and motivated, you are encouraged to apply and the fact that the programme is competitive should not prevent you from doing so. Let me provide you with a concrete example:

I first applied for the graduate programme for the 2012 intake. At that time I was not really aware of Novo Nordisk and my application was quite generic. In the end, I was not invited to the phone interviews (the first round). Since then, through my internships (not at Novo Nordisk) and interaction with 2012 graduates as well as Novo Nordisk representatives, I became really motivated to work for Novo Nordisk and specifically under the graduate programme scheme. I applied again in 2013, with a better and more tailored application, and was selected as one of the Business Processes graduates starting in September 2013. So, if you are motivated and really want to be part of the graduate programme – nothing is impossible :)

Any suggestions about applications and how to make it stand out?

For me this is the most difficult part of the application process. It is where the most cuts are made, and you have to convey your motivation and ‘uniqueness’ under a predefined format (CV, cover letter, and transcripts). This is also where I think my application made the most difference (see point above), which is why you should spend some time and consideration on it!

Lilla, a 2012 Global Marketing graduate has written a great blog post about tips for your application here:

Some points I’d like to add to and highlight in Lilla’s post are:

  • Tailored application is essential. Be sure to communicate your motivation clearly. Make sure that this application can only be for Novo Nordisk (and the graduate programme), rather than a generic application that can be for any company (just by changing the company name).
  • ABSOLUTELY NO TYPOS!!! Check check check your spelling, capitalization, ‘false friends’ (direct translations from another language), and that you are actually writing the word that you mean and not something that sounds similar or the same – for example there vs. their, and your vs. you’re.
  • Keep CV to 2 pages, and highlight any experience with Novo Nordisk (seminars, company visits, projects). An optional, but potentially good idea, is to put your cumulative grades in your CV, and what it is out of so that evaluators of your application get clear information from the start (e.g. Danish scale 10.1/12.00, or U.S. scale 3.39/4.00).
  • Don’t forget your transcript. This should be in English, and with information about what it is equivalent to (or how to interpret it). This is important as you don’t know who will be reading your application and what experience they have with certain grading scales that are specific to certain countries.

Does the ‘work experience’ requirement apply to relevant work experience, work experience after the Masters, or…??

I have received a lot of questions about this, and have reached out to our programme director for clarification. The feedback I received was that we consider all work experience after the Master’s degree. This also depends how much work experience you have prior to your graduate studies. If you exceed the ‘less than one year work experience’ requirement, please consider applying for the full time positions at Novo Nordisk:

What should I consider before applying to Novo? What is the culture like at Novo?

From my experience, people at Novo Nordisk are very open-minded and friendly. International orientation, and focus on patients are themes that are consistently strong throughout the organization. Throughout the organization and amongst the graduates we are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives and working towards a purpose (check out Mark’s blog about how passion is key:  

When applying to the graduate programme, flexibility is important. As part of the programme, you are required to move at least 3 times in 2 years. So ask yourself: are you ready for that? Does this make you excited?

Can I apply to more than 1 graduate programme track?

Yes, you are allowed to apply to more than one graduate track. However, make sure that each of your application is tailored and different from each other (see my point on suggestions about applications). You should have a strong reason for applying for different tracks and thus your applications should be unique and reflect this.

Do you chose your (second) rotation(s)? How flexible is this?

For the first rotation, you are more or less assigned where you will be working for 8 months. This makes sense since you will just be starting your experience at Novo Nordisk and perhaps would not have enough knowledge to make a decision about where you would like to work in the organization. From that point on, as you get more settled working at Novo Nordisk and more acquainted with the company, it is more of a discussion with our programme manager about work preferences and rotations. It is still important to be flexible and open to opportunities that may come up, which is also an exciting part!

Wow, this turned out to be quite a long post. Thanks a lot for your patience in reading it, and if you have any additional questions – you know what to do (comment or email)!

Good luck!


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25 Comments to ’So many applications…why should I apply?’ plus YOUR questions – a compilation!

  1. Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink
    Manish Shah says:

    Dear On,
    Thanks for such a motivational blog. I am a citizen of Nepal. I have completed my M Pharm(Pharmacology)from Rajiv Gandhi University of Heath Sciences, Bangalore, India. Am I eligible to apply for this graduate programmes.


  2. Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:30 am | Permalink
    carol says:

    That was wonderful and insightful. I wanted to know about the work experience prior to my graduate studies, how should i treat it when writing my CV.

  3. Posted January 17, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Manish,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry but to apply for the Business Processes or any of the Business programmes, you need to have a Master’s in business (e.g. economics, marketing, or other related areas). With your background I would suggest that you consider the Regulatory Affairs programme, which is more science-based:
    Also check out Marks’s blog for more info:

  4. Posted January 17, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Of course include all work experience on your CV! Make sure you write it up chronologically, and highlight your position, company etc.
    More info about tips on writing up your CV on Lilla’s blog:

  5. Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
    Rohit Ghosh says:

    Hello there,

    I am planning to apply for the Global Marketing profile for Novo Nordisk. Currently I am pursuing my MBA in International Business Consulting from Hochshule Offenburg in Germany and doing my internship at the SAP headquarters with the global marketing team. Prior to this, I am an engineering graduate with more than four years in the field of account management,sales,business development and marketing, working with global brands like Sharp,Staples and METRO Group.

    I read that only graduates with less than our year of experience from their graduation date can apply. So I wanted to clarify whether my previous experience will also be accounted for ,since I am graduating from MBA in March 2014.

    Will be great if you can respond back, so that I can / can not apply for this role.

    Thanks and regards,

    Rohit Ghosh.

  6. Posted January 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
    James says:

    So… My CV is more than 2 pages, would 3 pages be too much?
    Also, do you value certifications and awards in the application as well?

    Great Blog post On. – Thanks!


  7. Posted January 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
    Linh says:

    Dear On,

    Currently I am enrolling in a Master program abroad, however I will complete my study in May 2014. I am interested in the Management Trainee program in Vietnam but at the moment it would be difficult to contact the HR personal there so should I apply for the position as soon as possible or should I wait until my study has completely finished?

    And before going to graduate school I had a job for more than 1 year so am I still eligible for this position?

    Thank you in advance! :)

  8. Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi James,
    Thanks for your comment :)
    I would really try to keep your CV to 2 pages. Maybe cut some of the bullets, or look into the wording to make it more concise, or look into the spacing…?
    And yes, I would definitely include any awards or activities you may have – especially if this is something extra curricular or reflect your academic achievement!
    Good luck!

  9. Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Rohit,

    It sounds like you have an interesting background. I would encourage you to apply, as we also take into account your overall profile and experience.

    Good luck!

  10. Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Linh,
    For the global programmes, it would be fine for you to apply now. Regarding your work experience, it depends how many years you had :) – but generally you would still be eligible for the programme.
    If you would like to apply for the International Operations programme in Vietnam, please contact the person responsible as indicated in the job description for clarification and confirmation.
    Good luck!

  11. Posted January 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
    Alejandro Gamez says:

    Dear On,

    Thanks for sharing with us such a great advice. Having being raised in Latin America, I feel really identified with Novo Nordisk´s genuine interest in improving people´s health in emerging countries.

    I wonder whether you can share with us a little bit more about the final placement of the Global marketing programme, after graduation. Are people encouraged to become part of the global, regional or country management teams? How do you get assigned to your final placement function (marketing, supply, finance)?

    Thanks in advance for your time and support.


    Alejandro Gamez

  12. Posted January 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
    On says:

    Dear Alejandro,

    As far as I know, usually Global Marketing graduates end up in the Global/Regional function (of course other opportunities are possible). If you become a Global Marketing graduate, I believe that you will end up with a marketing position after the programme (rather than finance or product supply).


  13. Posted January 30, 2014 at 2:13 am | Permalink
    Alexandra says:


    Unfortunately, my University did not provide me a transcript of my grades. There is some way to apply to the Regulatory Affairs programme without the transcript?

    Thank you and best regards.

  14. Posted January 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
    Rachel says:

    Hi, On!
    Thanks for your post- it was very helpful. I applied to the Graduate Programme a few days ago and where the application said “upload diploma” I uploaded a statement of my current enrollment in a Master’s program, as I won’t graduate until May. The application said to be sure to include the diploma but did not mention a transcript as required. Is it possible to attach something to your application after you have sent it or send it as an addendum to one of the contacts listed for my respective programme? I really wish I had added my transcript in place of the enrollment document.
    Thanks for your consideration and thoughtful post,

  15. Posted January 31, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
    Silvestre Ramirez says:

    Dear On,

    I would like to apply to the International Operations program in Mexico. I have some doubts and I have written to Laura Damián (Rlam@novonordisk), whose information is provided in the program description. However, I wrote the email on Jan. 22, and I haven’t had an answer yet. Here’s an excerpt of the email I sent:

    “I reach to you in order to clarify some issues of concern. First, in 2012 I started my master degree at EGADE Business School (Monterrey campus) and right now I’m pursuing a double degree in collaboration with The Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). My expected graduation from NHH is in June – July 2014, but my graduation from EGADE will be in December 2014. The latter is a mere formality for I have to bring back my transcript with my NHH grades to EGADE and no further classes are needed. The outcome of the double degree is having two master degrees: Master in Finance (EGADE) and Master in Economics and Business Administration (NHH). Having said that, am I still eligible for the program? Second, I have read through the graduate blog the several steps involving the recruitment process. I’m currently located in Bergen, Norway and I fear that this will be an inconvenient for you. However I will definitely be back in Mexico before september when the program starts.”

    Help clarifying this doubts will be highly appreciated. Thanks!

  16. Posted January 31, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Rachel,

    Unfortunately once you have submitted your application, you can’t make additional amendments or edits :(

  17. Posted January 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
    On says:

    I just reached out to the current Regulatory Affairs graduates who suggested that you include your average grades in your CV :)

  18. Posted February 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
    Sunnith says:

    thank you for your suggetions. here i have some doubts about what should be mentioned in the transcripts??? and
    I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in pharmacy it will be completed by August-2014 will i be eligible to apply for the Graduate programme in this year???

  19. Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Permalink
    Gaia says:

    Dear On,
    I’ve graduated with a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering and now I’m enrolling in a postgraduate course for expert in “Internationalization and in intellectual property protection”, concerning, among other things, global marketing, economy, strategy and company structure. Does it make me eligible for the Business Processes Graduate Program?
    Thank you very much in advance for your time.


  20. Posted February 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
    Mo says:

    Hi On,

    Thanks for your time blogging about useful tips for application. I applied 2 days ago for the Egypt Business Programme and I have a couple of inquiries:

    I started working Jan 2009 and I have 4.6 years of work experience prior to my Masters (June 2013) and less than one year post masters , do I qualify?

    My other inquiry is about my Masters,I have a Masters in Public Policy which is an interdisciplinary degree yet it is economics based. So most of my course work was on economics and my electives were mainly management, finance, leadership and communication. Would that fit under the economics related fields mentioned int he eligibility criteria?

    My final inquiry is similar to that of Rachel, I understood Diploma as my graduation certificate and not my Transcript so I uploaded my diploma or certificate, would that be taken in to consideration by the HR screening officer or it will be considered as incomplete application?

    With Many Thanks in Advance in Anticipation of your Kind Assistance :-)

  21. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Mo,

    I would contact the office in Egypt directly for a more precise answer. At the global level, for the global programmes we are mainly looking at work experience after the Master’s, so you would qualify. If your degree is based in economics and have business related courses, that would also be sufficient. And yes, your diploma will be taken into consideration, it’s good that you uploaded some attachments at least :)

    Again, I highly recommend you to contact the contact person for the IO programme in Egypt for confirmation and clarification.

    Good luck!

  22. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Gaia,

    Yes, that sounds fine. We would need to take a closer look at your CV – to see when you will graduate from this postgraduate course etc.


  23. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Sunnith,

    We expect to see the list of courses, related grades, as well as your overall average (GPA) in the attached transcripts. For the business programmes, we only consider candidates with a Master’s (or soon to graduate with a Master’s) in business or related fields – if your Master’s degree is related to business, then you are welcome to apply this year :)

  24. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink
    On says:

    Hi Silvestre,

    I reached out to the IO programme manager who said that graduating in Dec is fine, and the interview and assessment can be done online if you are still in Bergen.

  25. Posted October 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
    Nsoto says:

    Dear On,

    Thank you for your post, it has been very helpful and enlightening. However, I’m still having doubts regarding the work experience requirement to be less than one year. During college I did 2 internships (one semester, one summer) and now, after graduating from my masters (in may ’14) I’ve started to work, in total I’ve more than 1 year of experience. Can I still apply for the IO intl programme?