Dmitriy, it is your department, Strategy Department, that is the most active participant in the UMG Internship Program. What is the goal of the Program? Our goal is absolutely clear: attracting the best talent to work at UMG. The Internship Program is a chance to find this talent and do everything required to keep these people developing inside the Company as full-time employees.
How many people want to take part in the Program? There are more than we can accept. Firstly, not all are a good enough to fit us. Secondly, we reject many of them after the interview process if we see that the person has come here “by accident” and was not motivated to work at the company. A total of 20 people have had internships with UMG over the past year and a half, including six that were hired. Of these, the Strategy Department took 13, including two that were hired. We were very demanding in selecting the candidates: only the best have stayed, those who share our values and can contribute a lot to the Company.
You say some are not a good fit. What sort of interns are you looking for and where? We look for candidates at universities, including through the Study&Practice Program. This is a wonderful project carried out on a voluntary basis by three people: Inna Perepelitsa, Evgeniy Chervyachenko, and Artem Kuznetsov. This Program allows students at higher education institutions to take a free course on the Western economic theories that international business is currently based on. The UMG HR Director and I regularly participate in Study&Practice pro bono. As part of Study&Practice, among other things, we offer students special business cases and analyze them interactively with the class. This way, we can identify talented candidates. Of course, we offer our Internship Program. We usually accept students in their 4th or 5th year. Work placement takes an average of 3–6 months and, if the students are successful, they can be hired full time right after graduation. We often prefer young stars who have just graduated over candidates who have had a chance to spend a year or two after graduation in a job that makes no sense to us. Most often, interns in this category are not very different from graduates in terms of training, but they can lose their zeal and sense of purpose, and their openness to new things, even in such a short time. So it is better to seek out stars for junior positions among students about to graduate.
What knowledge should a prospective intern have? English is a must: it will be used regularly even during the internships. We conduct many studies and gather analytics for projects that might be unique in Ukraine. In addition, English is needed for purchasing and installing foreign equipment, selling products abroad, and seeking industry experts, investors and partners. On the other hand, we do not require industry-specific knowledge, like mining, for example — this is more important for the companies that we manage. We mainly seek out finance and management abilities. So, these may be students of economics, management, marketing, and so on. Of course, it’s not enough only to have university knowledge: we search for people investing in their development, participating in competitions and conferences, pursuing further educational opportunities. This is especially important given the terrible lack of practical knowledge in Ukrainian high education. Sometimes candidates do not even have basic financial knowledge.Quite a few cannot even explain what EBITDA is.
What is the main reason for refusing internship candidates? As I have said, we reject a candidate that we see has come to us “by accident”. He or she must have a conscious desire to participate in an internship at UMG and later become a part of our team. Any person that just comes to “stay the summer” or takes the “let’s see how it goes and then make the decision” approach is not for us. We also immediately reject those who have not prepared for the interview, though it is not hard to do so because intern requirements are listed in the Program description. You just have to study them and understand to what extent you meet them. You can also guess what questions will be asked at the interview based on the requirements indicated in the vacancy announcement. For example, if you seek for an internship at finance, requirements include knowledge of types of financial reporting. Naturally, such questions may be asked at the interview, and you should at least refresh your memory about the basics. So, if a candidate says “I don’t remember” to a quite predictable question, the interview ends there.
And what works to a candidate’s advantage? The ability to think and communicate and charisma. A case is an easy way to evaluate their analytical capabilities: set a context, pose a basic question, ask them to think about the subject and offer recommendations. It’s always an advantage, if a person makes some effort to get to our company. It’s important to see that the intern is ready to apply their time, talent and energy for their own and the company’s development. If they have this drive, we can overlook certain other flaws. For example, if a candidate is good at finance and shares our values, but English language skills are poor. we will take a close look at them if they promise to bring their English up to speed to meet the job requirements and have already enrolled for a course.
What makes an internship successful? How do you assess whether a person has succeeded in it? Based on their results. It’s always obvious whether the person just puts in the time or really works, offers ideas and solutions, learns and achieves their objectives. From our side, we provide the intern with a rich training program that covers marketing, finance, and the basics of management. UMG has a mentoring practice. In addition, the company develops several parallel projects, so both routine and developing tasks can be selected. You can work in project teams, or find out about startups, project management and business development.
What are the intern’s prospects? Does UMG have a career ladder? Yes, of course. Interns mainly start as Junior Analysts with potential promotion to Analyst and Senior Analyst. Then, depending on the area they choose, they can become Junior Financial Manager or Project Manager. In Finance, you can work your way up to Chief Financial Officer or in Projects to the General Director of a business under our management. Promotion requirements are completely transparent: every employee knows what it takes to move to the next level. Every year a road map is discussed to list the set of tasks and skills required for promotion. If an employee meets these, he will move to a new level. We have success stories where employees take as little as 3.5 years to get from intern to Junior Manager, i.e. four career steps. One female employee even managed it in one year. The recipe for success is simple: don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone and concentrate on meeting the objectives set for you.
What would you recommend for current students just thinking about an internship? Firstly, decide for yourself what you want in life and what career you want to build. Then learn our requirements in advance and take at least a few days to prepare for the interview. It’s up to you how much you succeed and how quickly you climb the career ladder. You have to meet your objectives, demonstrate initiative, and seek innovative solutions. And if you are strongly motivated, if you are prepared to invest your time and energy , you have every chance of being hired full time and build a successful career at UMG.
And the last question. Several years from now, millennials will be eligible to participate in your programs. HR specialists claim that their values and approaches to life are quite different. They need more freedom, inspiration and opportunities to switch between tasks and learn new things. Are you prepared for their arrival? I think UMG is better prepared for this than other companies in Ukraine. From the start, we built our structure and organized our processes in a manner that fosters the spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity in our employees. So our team will be delighted to welcome millennials. They will not be bored in the least.