By Drasko Vlahovic
Imagine a room decorated with candles where you can have small talk while listening to nice background music. Looks like a description of the perfect scenario for a first date. But what if your date was actually with a business company? That is exactly what Company Dating is about. The event, which took place on the 26 of February, provides an opportunity for matching students and companies in a relaxed environment.
Hosted by the Aarhus University School of Business and Social Sciences (BSS), Company Dating took place in two rooms in Fuglesangs Alle 4. On the upper floor, students received counselling from the AU Career Center since – like in any other date – people need to prepare beforehand, so they can make a good first impression. Several booths offered help in writing CVs, boosting LinkedIn profiles and learning how to present oneself in the best way. Furthermore, everyone had the opportunity to have their photo taken by a professional photographer.
After the preparations, students finally met the company representatives in the lower room. There, they talked amongst each other at tables with candles, candies, and cookies. The room was full, as the number of participants in this semester’s event increased compared to the previous edition. “Last year, in September, we had around 400 sign-ups, and for this one we had around 600,” says student assistant Daniel Rico Vind, one of the event’s organizers.
Another change for this year is the expansion of Company Dating to the Arts department, which will be held on the 19th March. “Company dating has only been here at the BSS all the previous years, but this time we tried to split it up because we haven’t had anything for the Arts students,” Vind explains.
Making useful contacts
Attending Company Dating for the second time, MBA student from India, Ram Chaithanya believes it is important to take part in such events in order to get to know the Danish market. “Denmark is totally different from India. We used to have these placements where the companies come to the colleges, interview us and, if they like us, we get the jobs,” he explains, adding that in Denmark, students are expected to show more initiative.
“Here you have to get to know what programs, internships or full time jobs they are offering, and then you have to go to the website and apply for it,” explains Chaithanya. However, he says that sometimes it is not clear whether the companies would like to hire international students. “If you are doing it online, they won’t know what kind of person you are. There’s more probability that they reject you,” he says. Students should attend events such as Company Dating, so they can directly ask for information, Chaithanya suggests.
Albert Robescu, a graduate student from Romania, also believes that having an opportunity to meet people from the companies can be better than applying online. “Curriculum is not everything. It is also the way you speak, interact, communicate with others that could give you a good opportunity for the future,” he says. Language, however, could be a barrier for international students, especially if they don’t speak Danish. “Some of the companies are looking specifically for Danish employees,” Robescu notes.
Danish student Tina Hahn Nielsen is now doing a master programme in business communication. She says that there were not enough full time job offers. “Most of them were the graduate programs. I haven’t found anything I would apply for now,” she says. However, she stresses that attending this event could pay off. “I’ll probably use some of the contacts that I got here, like some of the companies I didn’t know about beforehand. I’ll look for them online, see if they have any interesting positions that I would like to apply for.”
Passion, the key to success
Such contacts, which entail meeting people directly, are the main advantage of this event, as Mette Johannesen from IBM points out. “It’s the interaction between us and the students instead of just being a one-way thing where we tell them something,” she says. In fact, Johannesen first made contact with IBM on one of the Company Dating events.
How do company representatives know if someone is fit for the job in their company? Johannesen thinks that the most important thing in this regard is passion. “It could be in strategy, it could be in business intelligence, it could just be normal consulting… As long as you can feel that they have the drive and the passion for what they want to do. It doesn’t matter what kind of education they have,” says Johannesen.
The importance of candidates being passionate is also highlighted by LEGO’s human resources manager and head of recruitment, Michael Holm. He points out that it is important to research about the company when looking for a job. “If you’ve read the company’s story, you know which challenges we face, and you’ve thought of the questions you want to ask instead of just freestyling when we’re standing there face-to-face,” Holm says.
In Holm’s opinion, Company Dating is also very important for the companies. “In general, we can see an increase of applications for our positions after we’ve participated in this, because there’s increased awareness of what we have. I’m quite confident that we’ve hired people that participated at these events,” he notes.
Matching the students and fresh graduates with the companies is easier at the Company Dating event, explains Daniel Rico Vind from the AU Career Center. He says that every company needs to bring at least one job ad, and then they talk to the potential employees. “Our goal is to help them meet in a hopefully nice atmosphere here, down to earth, informal, and have a chat about some job opportunities,” Vind points out. “We don’t know exactly how many people found a job in this way but we have some success stories, companies and students coming to us afterwards and telling us that they found a job or a student that they employed because of Company Dating,” he says.
Drasko Vlahovic is a journalist from Montenegro and contributor for Jutland Station.