On 4 November, over 30 consulting firms participated in the HEC International Consulting Forum on the campus. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet employees from both large and small companies, and get the chance to gain insights into internships and employment.
What was I looking to get out of the forum?
Currently I am an exchange student at the Grande École, and I’ll be at HEC for two semesters. I went to the forum looking to gain more information about short summer internships, specifically in France as I want to use my language skills.
What happened during the day?
Between 10am and 2pm, around 15 companies presented their portfolios and the kinds of positions available. The forum was open to all HEC students, so there were opportunities from internships to full time employment. The presentations were incredibly popular, some were standing room only! I managed to go to the Buy.O presentation, and found it really helpful as I hadn’t heard of them before. Their activity is interesting because their type of consulting is more niche; they work more on building relationships rather than one-time projects. At the end of the Buy.O presentation, I spoke to the representatives about my search for short internships, and we exchanged business cards. This was also a chance for me to ask more specific questions based on my profile, and to give them a copy of my CV.
The main forum started at 2pm, and 38 companies were present. Each had a stand with around 3 representatives, though the larger ones had more from different offices. As an international student, this was particularly useful as it meant that I could ask about applying for internships in different regions!
I spent around an hour and a half walking around the forum speaking to different firms. Before the event, I spent some time shortlisting firms I definitely wanted to learn more about. Doing this meant I could quickly get to the firms of most relevance to me, and then I could spend some time on firms I wasn’t familiar with afterwards.
In the end, I found out that the standard length of time for my chosen function (strategy) is usually around 6 months in France. Only a few companies would consider my candidacy for a shorter internship, so with this in mind, I ended up exchanging cards with more global firms. Overall, the forum was very helpful for finding out more about the culture at a firm, and for getting specific advice about different offices.
Advice for going to a forum
- Plan your visit
It’s important to have an idea of which firms you want to talk to. There are many students going to the forum, so having targets means that you get more value out of attending.
- Ask questions
Forums offer students the chance to ask questions based on their personal profiles and situations – I wasn’t the only international student at the forum so the representatives knew about opportunities abroad or advised me to contact a particular person.
- Bring copies of your CV
Print off copies of your CV and bring them with you. Speaking to representatives is an opportunity to sell your candidacy, and if they like what they hear, they might directly ask for your information.
- Apply directly to firms if you feel ready
If you know you want to apply to a firm, bring a tailored CV and cover letter with you. It shows your motivation and also gives the representatives a reference point if you exchange contact details.
- Don’t take rejections personally
A lot of the French offices I spoke to told me that they wouldn’t accept my candidacy because it was for too short of a period. Don’t worry! Apply to your local office, and if you get a job, you could always use your linguistic skills on projects or transfer later on.
- Send follow up emails if you have additional questions before you apply
If a representative gives you their contact details, it’s a good idea to send them a follow up email thanking them for their time and advice. If you have additional questions, ask them! It also gives them an indication of your motivation, and if you apply, they might become advocators for you later on.