Behind INSEAD’s New (Improved) Career Office

Fontainebleau, France

Before incoming students begin classes at INSEAD, they are faced with a question: Are you an explorer, or are you a hunter? Most respond that they are the former. And if they don’t, says Agnès Cosnier-Loigerot, director of the Career Development Center at INSEAD’s European campus, her office warns them they might be “hunting” for something totally different within their first or second two-month period.

INSEAD’s ethos and structure create some logistical and career services headaches that many American schools don’t have to deal with. A typical class at INSEAD includes about 500 young professionals from scores of different countries. The class that enrolled last fall was 93% international, coming from 73 different countries — and from different functions, industries, and, of course, companies. What’s more, the majority wants to jump into something totally different — and according to the most recent job report released by the school, they do just that: Some 78% of INSEAD graduates change function, industry, or geography. And they only have 10 months to do it.

For cohorts graduating in December 2014 and July 2015, 90% had offers within three months of graduation. This year’s report — which included December 2015 and July 2016 — saw the number dip to 89%. Those rates are low compared to schools like Chicago Booth and Wharton, which reported that 98% of their most recent graduating classes received at least one offer 90 days after commencement. But it’s on par with the 90% reported by Stanford Graduate School of Business.


When INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov took over in 2014, one of his first moves was to double the amount of money spent on career services. The result was a newfangled career development center and a boost in staff members.

“At the very beginning, we decided to completely revamp our career services and build a career development center,” Mihov told Poets&Quants last October. “We more than doubled our budget. We provide the students now with personal career advisers. So when students come to INSEAD, they have somebody who helps them during the year figure out where they want to apply, figure out what they are going to do, preparing them for interviews, preparing them for submitting CVs, recommendation letters — all of these things.”

Before even stepping on campus, admitted INSEAD students receive online tutorials on things like resume building and interview skills. Once on campus, says Agnes Cosnier-Loigerot, director of INSEAD’s Careers Europe Campus, they are “accompanied” by career development staff from the get-go. “We believe they help the students stay on track all year long,” she says of the staff.

Mihov says the urgency is increased by the nature of the 10-month MBA structure.

“Everybody understands it’s a very short period of time and we really have to do things very quickly,” he says. “We enlarged the number of advisers because we realized if we want to do it right, it’s not going to happen with the numbers we had before.”


Bolstering staff was the first move in Mihov’s revamp of the career development center. With the budget doubled, the school was essentially able to double the career services staff. INSEAD deploys both internal and external career coaches for every single student. Now, there are six internal career coaches on the Europe campus in Fontainebleau and six in Singapore. Employer specialists were also increased to six in Europe, six in Singapore, and one in Abu Dhabi.

The dozens of industry-specific external career coaches meet with their students in-person at least once every two-month period. “Now, every student has a career coach assigned to them straight from the beginning,” Cosnier-Loigerot says, though she adds that those meetings often go beyond in-person and extend to Skype and email meetings.

The personalized coaching fosters development in both technical and behavioral skills, Mihov says.

“They also help with the behavioral things like how you behave during the interview,” he said in October. “And I think that has a very big impact on how the students feel and the success rates on the reports in terms of matching students with the right employers.”

Still, arguably two of the most important stats reported in employment reports have been on a three-year slide. Job offers within 90 days of graduation have dropped from 95% for the class of 2014 to 89% this year. And median salaries have dropped from $115,100 in 2014 to $102,500, while most U.S. schools have substantially increased their median salaries. Both Mihov and Cosnier-Loigerot are quick to point out that many of their graduates are going into parts of the world where big salaries aren’t as necessary for the same quality of life.