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.
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.”