window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-1008328-44', {'anonymize_ip': true});
(function(w,d,s,l,i){w[l]=w[l]||[];w[l].push({'gtm.start': new Date().getTime(),event:'gtm.js'});var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0], j=d.createElement(s),dl=l!='dataLayer'?'&l='+l:'';j.async=true;j.src= ''+i+dl;f.parentNode.insertBefore(j,f); })(window,document,'script','dataLayer','GTM-M5NXBCR');

Jana Burnikel

Anglicist with a soft spot for business topics

The "Future Leaders" graduate program is just made for me

I learned about the "Future Leaders" graduate program at Bertelsmann when I went through an assessment center for a leadership fellowship and saw the flyers for the program there. I knew right away that this program was made for me: the ultimate combination of entrepreneurship, creativity and leadership – the topics I am passionate about. The program gives me the opportunity to rotate through four different Bertelsmann divisions over the course of a year. So as a trainee, you get to know four different teams with different tasks at different locations in 12 months. Ideally, at the end you've found the team and the division where you want to dedicate yourself to making a difference.

The admission procedure

Applicants undergo a multi-stage selection process. The application documents submitted online were required to provide information not only on academic performance, but also on work experience, periods spent abroad, voluntary work and the covering of business topics. An online intelligence test then put our verbal, mathematical and abstract-thinking skills to the test. Those who did well in the first two rounds advanced to the final round: a one-day assessment center. There, we went through various stations: Presentation, group work, interview. In between, we had the opportunity to talk to trainee alumni and learn more about the options the graduate program offers. Regardless of how the day would have turned out for me – it was worth it, because I met some great people there!

Onboarding and first assignment

In the Future Leaders graduate program, we have a total of seven people in the 2022 cohort: three work in Data Analytics, three in "my" track, Creative Management, and one person is completing the Business track. During onboarding, we grew close together through various team-building measures and were able to get to know Bertelsmann better through presentations and conversations with employees. Last but not least, it was about our individual development and, of course, basic business knowledge.

After onboarding, I went to my first station at Penguin Random House (PRH) in Munich. For four months, I was able to accompany the teams working on strategic market analyses and innovation topics for the book market. In addition to my diverse tasks – I was able to work on innovation topics, further develop a digital business model for PRH, and also support a strategic market research project – I was particularly impressed by the corporate culture. I was able to use the lunch breaks and the lively lunch culture to meet colleagues from other teams and learn more about the publishing group. After initially finding the combination of new city, new team and new tasks challenging, I felt like I had fully arrived after just one month.

From Munich to Hamburg

My second stop was the innovation team at Arvato Systems in Hamburg, which deals with Web 3.0 strategies and products. Here I had the great fortune to join a team that has a lot of freedom to pilot and test projects. Accordingly, numerous opportunities arose to contribute and help shape things. For example, I was able to participate in numerous innovation workshops and trade fairs. Among others, we were at UFA in Potsdam, at RTL in Cologne and at the Fashion Week in Berlin. For my third station, I'm moving to Bertelsmann Education Group, and my fourth station will be RTL. My tip: Don't commit yourself too early and trust in your personal development – then you'll be in for some surprises!

A program especially for humanities scholars

The "Creative Track" of the "Future Leaders" program is specifically tailored to graduates with a degree in the humanities. Since I am passionate about strengthening the presence and visibility of humanities graduates in management, I recommend all ambitious people with a humanities background to apply! It is important that you have already gained experience abroad, have some work experience, and ideally have a certain knowledge of business topics. For me, that was founding a startup – for my co-trainee, it was a job as a journalist at a business magazine. But don't worry, any gaps in your knowledge will be filled through further training. Otherwise: stay curious and have a desire to develop – then you've come to the right place!

Jump to top