I don’t usually like to give job advice to people, partially because I am still young and humbled by the incredibly high calibre talents at INSEAD, but mostly because no matter how much we like to legitimize success with marketing buzz words, there is always an element of luck in everyone’s career. Now as an alumnus who successfully made the switch in geography, industry and position post INSEAD, I would simply like to share my good fortune. Whether it applies to you or not, here’s my own experience.
Sept 2011 – I just finished my summer internship at a global bank in Singapore. Coming from an inward looking telco in Canada, I would be psyched just to see a map showing more than North America on a powerpoint slide, let alone actually work on projects related to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. I knew that experience by itself could lead to a new career path, so I was quite grateful to have one foot in a global enterprise even in the absence of an offer at the end. The excitement around my Silicon Valley trek and campus exchange to France quickly swept away any lingering thoughts I had on the internship. Then the Champagne showers and hor d’oeuvres from various recruiting sessions began to precipitate on campus. Between the fear of missing out (F.O.M.O) and chronic obsessions with consulting firms, my fellow classmates had, incidentally, left my summer employer, a major recruiter at INSEAD, high and dry without a host for their visit.
I had held no offers or applications affiliated with this company since the internship, but stepping up at the time just felt like the right thing to do. More than just a host, I wanted to be an ambassador for an organization that I believe deserved far more than being overlooked. I arrived at the session early with a pre-written and rehearsed speech in my pocket that chronicled my personal growth as an intern at the bank, minus the typical MBA fluff. When the recruiters struggled to get the audio & visual running, I picked up the slack before IT support could arrive in perfect French time. It would take all of my experiences with troubleshooting youtube video presentations in the past to maintain the flow of the presentation and every ounce of my composure to calm my guests. When all was said and done though, I simply wanted to say thank-you.
And so thank my guests I did. Although it would have been nice to have received a fulltime offer by the end of the summer, I told them I was counting my blessings every time I looked back. It turned out that some of the speakers who traveled from London sit on the steering committee for MBA recruiting. Three weeks later, their parting smiles and winks turned into a job offer that I could not refuse. And it happened without one single interview.
During my preparation for INSEAD admission, a mentor’s friend and INSEAD alumna voluntarily proof-read my essays 14 times before revealing her professional background. When I discovered that she works for the world’s top strategy consultancy, I asked how I could possibly repay her for her unconditional kindness (when I made 1/3 of what I make now). All she asked of me instead was that I pay it forward.
So if you are still not bored by my storytelling at this stage, I would like to leave you with a video that once inspired me when things got tough. This one is to you, Jackie, my x-factor, and to my fellow classes of 2011, 2012 and beyond. =)