I am an MiM alumnus from ESSEC Business School in Paris. As for my background, I am a Computer Science Engineer from India. After completing my Engineering degree I worked at BNP Paribas as a Software Developer for about two years.
I came to France in August 2015, but even two months before that, I was not sure I would ever be able to make it into France. Most Indian students from middle-class backgrounds understand how hard it can get when you want to fund your entire studies yourself. Nevertheless, I came here with a plan.
“Unlike most students I wasn’t just looking for the experience of a job fair: I was looking for a job!”
The plan was an ambitious and usual one. I knew that with the flexibility ESSEC provides, I would succeed if I worked hard. From my experience at BNP Paribas, I knew that I wanted to work in the Finance Sector.
I was admitted to ESSEC in the very first round, which gave me a lot of time to do research. When I got in touch with some current students and alumni, they helped me immensely during this period. During my research, I discovered that ESSEC hosts a finance fair in October, only a couple of months after we were scheduled to arrive. I knew this would be a great opportunity. Unlike most students I wasn’t just looking for the experience of a job fair: I was looking for a job!
“I learned from my mistakes each time I went up and spoke to someone”
After attending various talks by the Career Services at ESSEC, I came up with a strategy for this job fair. I decided to first approach the banks which I knew wouldn’t have roles that I was interested in. This gave me experience as to how to interact with them, without really harming at my chances. Once I had mastered the tactics, I approached the banks I was interested in. I had started my day at about 9am, and by 11am I had spoken with more than 5 banks already. The first two talks did not last longer than 30 seconds. But I learned from my mistakes each time I went up and spoke to someone. That was the advantage of having so many banks in one event space. In fact, I met with an alumnus of ESSEC who was there representing a bank and asked for some advice. Soon I got a couple of leads which I had to follow up on. I kept speaking to banks and the last bank I approached that day was Société Générale. This may sound like a fairytale, but this is the company I am working for today.
“I had almost given up hope and started applying through online portals”
I wasn’t sure that getting only two leads from more than 6 banks was good enough, but nonetheless I followed up on those leads that same night. I didn’t get a reply for about a week. At this moment, I had almost given up hope and started applying through online portals and other channels. But after about 15 days, I got a call during a lecture from an unknown number. It could’ve been anyone, but my heart was racing. I couldn’t pick up that call, but I had a voicemail in French which I thought said that they’re calling from Société Générale and wanted to schedule an interview. I ran to one of my French friends and asked him to confirm the same. And there it was, my first phone interview with a French bank in Paris. The next month was occupied with interviews and online tests but I made it through all of this to start my internship in January, just 4 months after coming to France!
Coming to France with professional ambitions has not refrained me from engaging in social activities. But it’s true that I was very focused. Between the friends I made and the job I got, I am very happy with the return on my investment. I was able to make some amazing friends, learn from the best professors around the world and travel to the most beautiful places in Europe all within this one year. To all the people who ask me “Why France?” or “Why ESSEC?”, I like to ask them: “Why not?”.