Sweltering heatwaves, ice cream at the beach, poolside relaxation. That’s summer, right?
Not if you’re an MBA student. If you’re intent on maximizing your post-graduation career opportunities, the summer is a key time for internships and networking, company exploration, and overall CV enhancement.
Tony Somers, director of employer engagement in the HEC Paris Career Center, says that of the almost 70% of HEC Paris MBA students who chose to pursue an internship during their studies, the vast majority of them do their internships during the summer.
Over the past three years, the five biggest recruiters of MBA interns at HEC Paris have been Amazon, Schneider Electric, Credit Suisse, L’Oréal, and Johnson & Johnson. HEC Paris features an MBA Internship Day where companies come on campus specifically to recruit MBA students, and internships are regular topics of discussion during the weekly on-campus company presentations organized by the Career Center.
But is an internship really necessary for landing that top job after graduation? Tony says the answer varies depending on the sector. Finance internships continue to be a key element in landing a full-time offer, though there are fewer and fewer positions available in investment banking.
Still, MBAs looking to enter consulting need not beat themselves up if they don’t land a consulting internship in the summer. “While having an internship is always desirable, many go on to get jobs without actually having an internship with a consulting firm,” Tony says.
The biggest change Tony’s seen recently, though, is leveraging internships to break into tech. “Companies here are focusing more and more on the internship channel. Amazon has an intensive recruitment cycle with HEC Paris,” he says. “And, if you land an internship and it goes well, you’re pretty much guaranteed a full-time offer.” The same goes for other tech giants like Facebook and Google.
Here’s a look at where some HEC Paris MBA students have chosen to intern during the last few months, along with their tips for landing that perfect internship experience:
Student: Royce Russell
Location: New York
Before the MBA at HEC Paris, Royce Russell had a background in fashion—he even had his own line in New York for a number of years.
Royce says he chose the school for its unrivalled strength in the luxury industry and because he knew he’d be learning on a global scale, making it easier to enter a multinational company after graduation.
He plyed the summer-internship trade with L’Oréal in the city that never sleeps.
Royce was bullish about his internship applications, and that’s his advice to MBAs seeking their ideal summer placement. He drew up a list of companies he wanted to work for, looked for internships at each and every one, and contacted them directly.
“Students really need to be proactive as early as they can, even if it’s just a list of companies or industries they want to work for or in,” he says. “Don’t just make it about ‘I want to be an intern for you.’ Highlight what you bring to the table and why they should hire you.”
Royce wound up at L’Oréal by leveraging HEC Paris’s close relationship with the company. He reveled in the opportunity to put to work the skills developed during the MBA. There was a lot of freedom to make the project he worked on his own, he says, and to use a lot of the skills he’d learned in business school.
In the end, Royce’s internship was an undeniable success. Not only is his team actively discussing implementing his project into their actual business model, but he will be joining L’Oréal USA’s MBA management track after graduation.
Student: Stefano Caprara
Company: Johnson & Johnson
Stefano Caprara began his career in ecommerce with YOOX in Milan, an online lifestyle store for fashion, design, and art. After establishing himself firmly within the company’s HR department, though, he wanted more—and that thirst for knowledge led him to the MBA at HEC Paris.
“I am totally in love with the school,” Stefano says. “The real asset is the people!”
This summer Stefano undertook an internship with Johnson & Johnson. Is switching from luxury and fashion to healthcare a difficult switch? Not at all, he says.
“I entered Johnson & Johnson because an HEC Paris alum contacted me and said, ‘I think this place will suit you’.” After encouraging him to apply, Stefano then had the assistance of the HEC Paris network for six months—an alum in another Johnson & Johnson office was there for him as a mentor, offering advice and tips on how to refine his CV and succeed with the internship application.
The people at HEC Paris, Stefano continues, are schooled in collaboration. Across boundaries, across industries, it’s a real community, he adds. But, there are caveats. Although Stefano tapped into the HEC Paris network to land his internship, his words of advice are to not take anything for granted.
“Obviously you have to step up yourself,” he says. “Finding the perfect summer internship is not something that will just be handed to you.”
Make use of the network, then, but burn the midnight oil to really succeed. The company you end up working for during the summer internship is sticking their neck out for you, Stefano explains. They are spending money to take you on, train you quickly, give you responsibility, and then let you oversee your own project.
“You can try things, but obviously you need to be cautious. You can’t go into any company and just play, but you can experiment a bit,” he says. “To do that you need to network a lot, be informed, and not be shy!”
So, how did the HEC Paris MBA help on the job?
“What I learned at HEC Paris is that the courses really sharpen your management skills,” Stefano says. “The teaching allowed me to stand in front of the senior managers and speak calmly and frankly.”
Stefano explains that the MBA has taught him how to think more critically and strategically. During his internship, he says he was able to advise the company on areas of projects that he felt wouldn’t work well.
“At the end of the day the MBA allows you to develop a lot of skills. It gives you the main tools, and then you can apply them once you are back in the working world. My point is the MBA gives you whatever you want, but it is up to you to be receptive!”