Behind INSEAD’s New (Improved) Career Office

The Financial Times has ranked INSEAD’s full-time MBA program as No. 1 for two straight years. Courtesy photo

One of the main goals of working with two personalized career coaches is helping the students understand who they are — professionally and personally. First, through working on resumes, building networks, and even revamping LinkedIn profiles, students begin to picture who they are professionally, Cosnier-Loigerot says. “That’s a good start to help them think about who they are, what they have done, and what’s their value proposition or unique selling point.”

While many schools in the U.S. and around the world have robust career-service offices, Cosnier-Loigerot say INSEAD’s student diversity is what leads to a career-switching “cascade effect.” No other elite school in the world had as many countries represented in last fall’s incoming class. School officials love to tout that “everyone is a minority” at INSEAD, and it’s something career services has used to their advantage, as well.

“We do leverage the internal community,” Cosnier-Loigerot says. Not only does the school specifically group together students from different backgrounds in the first two periods, she says her office pairs “senior” and “junior” students together when necessary. But more importantly, Cosnier-Loigerot explains, students from different backgrounds — both professionally and personally — talk to one another.

“Compared to other schools, they understand very quickly what they could be doing,” she says, noting the broad spectrum of where students come from. “Just by talking to their peers, it really helps them figure out where they could go.”

The main goal in the first few months of the program is for each student to self-identify a “unique recruiting list” and a “unique selling point list,” Cosnier-Loigerot says. Once in place, students are matched with members from the cohort ahead of them with similar interests as well as a specific employer engagement coach. “There is a cascade effect that helps new classes benefit from the previous one,” she says of the peer-matching.

Agnès Cosnier-Loigerot of INSEAD. Courtesy photo

BOOSTED ENGAGEMENT WITH POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS

The employer engagement specialists are the second piece to the revamped and beefed-up career services office.

“We also invested a lot in business development — that is, relationships with employers,” says Mihov, noting that INSEAD welcomes more than 180 employers to their campuses each year. “That was the first thing I really thought was necessary to do.”

Cosnier-Loigerot says students meet with employer specialists to “fine-tune” their employment plan. “It’s all of this preparation of knowing themselves and knowing the market, more or less at the same time, that helps them be prepared at the time of the interviews and be able to accept an offer quickly,” she adds.

The employer engagement specialists also have more time to connect and organize with employers because of the students’ preparation with internal coaches, Cosnier-Loigerot explains.

“It gives more bandwidth for the employer engagement specialists to work with companies around the world,” she adds.

EARLY-STAGE VENTURES CONTINUE POPULARITY

The structure has also improved the career office’s relations with startups — something Cosnier-Loigerot says is a growing interest among students at INSEAD. Beginning in 2011, she says, her office began forging connections with startups around the world, and this effort only expanded when they were able to increase staff size. “We developed connections in entrepreneurship ecosystems in different regions,” she says. “This is where there is a growing interest on both sides.”

Cosnier-Loigerot says startups coming from the U.S. are particularly intrigued with INSEAD students when they expand to Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. “Our students usually have a good idea of what local and regional markets look like,” she explains. “And so when these companies expand, they look for people who have the business acumen, but also who know the local and regional markets very well.”

Cosnier-Loigerot says her office has been working with Uber since around 2011, not long after the company was founded in San Francisco. Since 2011, she says, her office has helped place more than 40 students in Uber offices around the world.

The career office has also taken a “complementary” role to the work already being done at the school’s center for entrepreneurship. The center boasts about 20 elective courses as well as bootcamps and treks to entrepreneurial hotbeds around the globe. Cosnier-Loigerot’s office has been able to piggyback on those trips to build relationships with growing ventures. Joining rather than starting a venture has been an increasingly attractive choice for INSEAD grads, she explains.

“It’s a good way for them to experience building a business but with a system in place,” Cosnier-Loigerot says.

THE MILLENNIAL CONUNDRUM 

Not unexpectedly, Cosnier-Loigerot’s office faces many challenges in getting students placed.

“The main challenge we always faced was the fact that the students move from one campus to another one,” she says. “But we’ve been dealing with that for quite a while, so we know now how to leverage the online tools.”

Cosnier-Loigerot says her office has become adept at reaching students and their fellow career services staffers on different campuses through online platforms like Skype and other video conferencing. The coordination between offices on different continents is something she says is always a priority. “We need to make sure we have a strong coordination across teams and across campuses,” she says.

The new generation of MBA students also can create some issues, Cosnier-Loigerot says: For one what students want in a first position after B-school is constantly changing. “It’s very fast-paced in that area,” she says of student interests. Employer engagement specialists work closely with human resources officials at large companies to keep current with new and evolving positions, Cosnier-Loigerot says.

“There are roles that can be created on the spot,” she explains. “So, it’s not looking for specific roles in specific function areas as it used to be in the past. Students have roles created for them, even in bigger organizations.”

TRACKING BEYOND THREE MONTHS OUT

On the employer side, Cosnier-Loigerot says, companies have to also be adaptive and more flexible than ever with work-life balance. Still, she explains, companies also must keep a “structured environment” to be able to retain talent.

“This ambiguity that companies have to deal with, it’s the same with the students,” she says. “They want challenges and they want to make sure they can grow quickly, that they will have impact and responsibilities, and that they will be able to engage with senior people very quickly. But they also look for some structure in the organization to help them grow.”

To help track how her office sets students up for “dream job” positions, Cosnier-Loigerot says her office is improving the way they track what graduates are up to beyond the first position they take after B-school.

“For us, there is a lot of qualitative measurement as well,” she says, noting they’ve been “trying to talk” to recent grads about how their first job after B-school helped them pursue their dream careers. That will inform how her office continues to work with recent grads and assisting them with their second and third positions after the MBA.

“There are many roles that are a good stepping-stone to the next experience,” Cosnier-Loigerot says. “Like consulting, for instance. You go into consulting for two or three years and then to the area you really want to go to, like private equity or some other specific area in the corporate sector.”

Mihov says the number of students switching functions, industries, and geographies — or all three — is impressive. But it’s also expected.

“It is impressive how many people switch functions and industry and geography,” he says. “But obviously the people we take in are very high-quality, and the willingness they have to be global and move around is very valuable and valued by companies.”

DON’T MISS: RECORD 46% OF INSEAD MBAs GO INTO CONSULTING or INSEAD DEAN TALKS B-SCHOOL’S PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE

  • Alexey Postnov

    thank for the info about the report, I did not know it was released

  • OG

    I have a question. Seeing as Insead is a 10-month program, do students actually learn in the classroom, or is it more of a 10-month networking and job search bonanza? I get the sense that if one wanted to pick up specific skills they lack (eg. finance, analytics) a short program like INSEAD may not be the best route. But I’m curious to know if that is true.

  • Bernard Soulez

    To Nathan Allen,
    Smart vision about “INSEAD’s New (Improved) Career Office” and congrats for all what you achieve.
    Have you specific actions (and consequent budgets) carried out by your Alumni Association ? At your opinion, what should be the role of Alumni Associations to develop and assist their members during their career ?
    Regards,
    Bernard Soulez

  • Those are all very good points and important to our readers for the additional context they provide. But it’s still remarkably impressive for INSEAD to have employment rates as high as they are given the diversity of the class, the fact that so many people return to their home countries for work, and the fact that this is only a ten-month program.. So it’s also important to give credit where credit is due.

  • DevilsAdvocate

    Despite the very positive spin here, I believe there are enough ominous signs here for INSEAD to take note. I would urge the school to address the following issues:

    1) Doubling the budget is nowhere nearly enough for career services. Yes, the additional career coaches and the introduction of a more structured program are welcome changes, but so much more needs to be done if INSEAD is nearly as competitive as the top 5 US MBAs (I would not belabor this point, please just refer to the stats; also Stanford GSB is an anomaly as the number of founder entrepreneurs as a % of class size is high). I would start with increasing the budget substantially again and as a benchmark would try to quantify what the top 5 US MBA schools allocate per student and match them.

    2) Increasing the career services budget again will not be easy as the money has to come from somewhere. I see this as a big problem for INSEAD in the future. Their endowment is not nearly as big as the top 5 US MBAs or even LBS and if INSEAD doesn’t try to catch up it will get blown out of the water in the future. There should be a massive capital raise campaign – not for new buildings, but for purposes of scholarships, research (albeit modest), and investment in career services which are core to continued vitality of the school. I urge the administration to make this a priority.

    3) Once the capital is raised, a big chunk of the additional budget allocated to career services has to go to partnership development teams across various industries. Please, please try to hire top people in the employer engagement roles who have deep connections to specific industries who would be able to bring companies from all sectors not just consulting for a serious recruiting campaign. Yes, perhaps 180 employers currently wish to recruit INSEAD students, but I seriously question whether all of them are fully engaged. The school must invest in these relationships and urgently diversify the focus away from consulting. Any good school worth its weight, is not just a consulting school, it is a school that enables talented people to change careers by pulling on an engaged network of employers who sincerely want to hire from the school.

    4) Do not allow students to change INSEAD campuses more than once during the 1 year program. In other words, if a student from Fontainebleau decides to exchange to Singapore, they cannot go back to Fontainebleau. If students must experience Asia or Europe, they can go on a trek, but not spend a period long vacation in a different campus detached from their target market. This will also ease pressure on career services across both campuses. Yes, INSEAD must aspire to be a global school for the world, but not unreasonably so given its limited resources.

    Just a few honest points. Given the editorial discretion on this blog, this might never get posted. But if not, I at least urge for these points to be channeled to the INSEAD administration.

  • RankingGuru

    Last week, IE released its latest International MBA employment report, it looked very good given the current economic climate. It’d be a good comparison to make it against INSEAD as IE status of direct competitor..