UQ Program: Master of Business

Having completed a previous exchange to Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle within my undergraduate program (Business Management/Arts – French & Spanish) – I had a goal.  Having fallen head over heels in love with Paris I knew I had to come back. However, at the time I didn’t know how or when.  I chose to complete two Masters programs at UQ and realised that I could also do exchanges within my post graduate studies.  I knew which city and universities I wanted to study at.  I chose to finish my Master of Business (International business) at Sciences Po.  Although predominantly known for political sciences I saw that the Finance & Strategy courses  offered were amazing.  I had the privilege of taking courses run by Hermès (yes, luxury goods is considered real business in Europe!), another course run by the head of investment banking for HSBC in the Middle East and another from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Speaking French is a definite advantage being at Sciences Po (as well as in France in general) because a lot of the amazing courses are offered are only in French.  Having lived previously in France means that I already had a great group of French friends (whom I met through sport – I would highly recommend joining groups to meet people if you want to get to know the real culture) but met a lot of international students in my classes.  I do have to say Masters level is a bit different from the undergrads obviously with a lot less class time but a higher level expected and a lot more course work to complete.  However, I would highly recommend postgrads complete an exchange to gain valuable international experience as well as create a network.
    My next exchange was to ESSEC – a fantastic business school just outside of Paris (although 45 mins on the overland train seemed a lot longer after a short walk to Sciences Po in St Germain from where I live in the 2nd!).  ESSEC, like Sciences Po, is a grand ecole (an ivy league school of France), with fantastic teachers and access to amazing resources (the careers site is invaluable!).  Since I am interested in working in the luxury goods industry and ESSEC offers an MBA in Luxury Brand Management, I was able to take amazing courses by industry professionals and work on some real life consulting projects for French luxury goods brands. 
    I decided after this exchange to try to find an internship here in Paris.  My French at this stage is fluent (not to be confused with native!) so it makes it a lot easier if you’re an international student trying to work here.  Actually, scratch that; it’s impossible to obtain work here without some working knowledge of French.  Having Sciences Po and ESSEC on my CV really impresses the French and has definitely opened a lot of doors for me.  I went on countless interviews with Lacoste, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Lanvin, Richemont, BNP Corporate Investment Banking (where I was successful in getting an internship but due to bureaucracy on UQ and BNP’s behalfs was cancelled much to my frustration) to name a few and after several months of sending out what seemed like hundreds of CV’s I was finally successful in obtaining an amazing internship with the OECD in the Private Sector Development for Emerging Markets sector. 
    This interview was probably the hardest I went on (even though it was in English) because I first had to take an exam (a written paper answering questions related to international trade and investment) followed by a panel interview.  For the written paper, I was able to draw on both knowledge I had gained at UQ, Sciences Po & ESSEC  (although it was a bit hard as this was just after summer holidays here in France hence my brain was a bit lethargic after having lazing around beaches on the French Riviera!).  The second part of the process involved interviewing with  the panel of Directors of the different emerging market sectors (MENA, South East Europe and Eurasia) which was incredibly intimidating but I was able to settle into the interview with ease.  I think this is due to the confidence I developed on exchange – a time when you really just have to let go of your ego and be able to converse with people of different backgrounds.
    I think the greatest thing about exchange is that it makes one realise how big the world is and the amazing opportunities that are out there.  Opportunities we may not have considered before because we put limits on ourselves. 
    Tips for Paris:
    1.  Learn as much of the language before you get here.  It really helps to break the ice and show respect for the culture and peoples of the country you will be staying in.
    2.  Finding an apartment in Paris can be difficult.  I really would suggest to wait until you get here.  Use the student union websites of the university you will be attending or pap.fr.  Try to stay away form craigslist as there a lot of scammers.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
    3.  Most students are eligible for CAF if you are in France for 3 months or longer.
    4. To get an authentic experience of the country join activities.
    Tips for internships:
    1.  Persevere!
    2. Have a cover letter, CV in French ready (be succinct in both of these)
    3. Use university careers websites, talk to your professors to see if they know of internships
    4.  Network!

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