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February had already ended, and I was still intern-less (courtesy: a not-so-good CPI, lack of interest in core and my being a dual – yes, a lot of companies don’t even open for duals!). So, like many others, I chose to resort to a few personal contacts. I started jotting down corporates in India where I would want to intern and could possibly have a contact. After doing a non-core intern at the in-house consulting vertical at Reliance Industries Ltd. during my sophie year summer, I had some idea about what a corporate intern in India would be like. I’d almost secured an intern at one of the big names. Nevertheless, while reading some business article, I thought of applying to global business schools for distinct exposure. I began by preparing an ambitious list of business schools that included the likes of Harvard, Sloan and of course HEC, Paris. I sent “short” emails to professors who had associations with the industries I was interested in, with a link to my one page resume and a recommendation of the VP at RIL from my previous intern in adjunct.
Surprisingly, I received replies from most of them (obviously negative from the ones in the USA), but after a slightly positive response from HEC followed by two casual Skype interviews, primarily pertaining to my interests and the value I could add, I was put on hold for a few days while they were scrutinizing the possibility of sponsoring my stay. Finally, in mid-April, I received an acceptance mail with my travel, accommodation and food being arranged for by the sponsoring agency. Additionally, I’m also receiving an adequate amount as stipend, which was decided after I arrived here. I think what got me through was the experience I gained from my previous intern and the recommendation. (Many people here don’t know about brand IIT, so if someone plans to contact global B-schools, I would suggest not to oversell the IIT tag; rather sell your profile. All they know about India is that we are really good and growing in the IT sector)
[pullquote]Many people here don’t know about brand IIT, so if someone plans to contact global B-schools, I would suggest not to oversell the IIT tag; rather sell your profile[/pullquote]
Arrival and Facilities
So, I landed in Paris on May 7, where I was welcomed by my supervisor at the airport. He drove me to my apartment which happens to be on a beautiful hilltop in south Paris, with every facility I could imagine. Occasionally, I travel to the school in his car or sometimes by cycle, on other days I walk as it is quite near to my residence. I was told that Indians may not be treated very nicely here, but I had no such negative experiences. On the contrary, I personally find the French very warm and helpful. Not knowing French can be a niggle at times, but if you try to speak French (at least the greetings), you will get all the help you need. People here are very attached to their culture, cuisine and language which, I believe, is a respectable trait. Regarding food – being a vegetarian reduces the number of options, but it’s manageable. I have my lunch at the restaurant in the school where they have sufficient vegetarian options, and cook my dinner at home with all ready-to-eat recipes brought from India (Thanks to Mom!). I have developed a liking for French food, especially the different varieties of French bread and cheese (surprisingly, French Fries is not a French but a Belgian dish :P).
The first day of my intern was really memorable. I was introduced to everyone – the professors, PhD students, administrative staff etc – who welcomed me very warmly and it took me no time to settle. In the first technical meeting with my guide, I was presented with possible projects that I could work on in detail, and was given complete freedom to choose any topic of my interest. I chose to work on “Strategy research for digital entertainment industry in Europe” because the scope of the project interested me. The project is quite open-ended and flexible. To put it in a nutshell, it aims to develop business strategies for all kinds of players involved in the industry – from distributors and producers to online platform owners – so that the industry can grow as a whole.
The first week’s work involved reading articles and attending presentations to understand the industry. From the second week, my work majorly involved meeting/interviewing established people from the industry, analysing performance data of the market, making conclusions and finally suggesting optimised and better business strategies. If the suggestions are approved by the authorities, they go for publication and are suggested to the European Union and the clients associated with the University. Though there are no rigid targets and deadlines, I have to give weekly presentations on my progress. Technically, my work revolves pretty much around Powerpoint and Excel. I have completed a month now, and so far I’m satisfied and enjoying the work which I find really intriguing. What fascinates me the most is the passion everyone shows in what they are pursuing. For example, the girl sitting next to me hails from the USA, has done triple masters in different countries in Europe on “Qualitative Risk Analysis”, and is now pursuing her PhD here.
[pullquote]To put it in a nutshell, it aims to develop business strategies for all kinds of players involved in the industry – from distributors and producers to online platform owners – so that the industry can grow as a whole.[/pullquote]
Travelling in Europe
Europe trips are quite popular amongst insti junta and I am no different. But I would focus more on Paris.
“In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.”
Yes, it’s the place where everything just seems perfect, may it be the architecture, food, cafes, paintings, sculptures, lights, fragrance or the way people carry themselves. Living in this city is quite different from visiting the city for a few days. There is a story and culture attached to everything here. The surroundings make you fall in love with the city time and again. Every day spent here teaches me something new. I miss Mumbai sometimes but the peak hours’ rush in Paris metros reminds me of something familiar 😛
[pullquote]I will end by saying that there are many excellent and interesting opportunities around us, which may or may not be unconventional. All it takes is to start applying without worrying if you stand a chance. You never know! [/pullquote]
In conclusion, I find the internship experience here very enriching, and I feel more confident on my skills as an analyst, researcher and presenter. The best part is meeting some really interesting people at work (and apart), who are very enthusiastic, humble and fun! In some days, I am going to miss the regular coffee breaks here which are the best times for informal conversations and sharing the French bonhomie.
I will end by saying that there are many excellent and interesting opportunities around us, which may or may not be unconventional. All it takes is to start applying without worrying if you stand a chance. You never know!
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