French Alum Discusses Leveraging Your Internship to Land a Job
Fabien discusses with InterExchange how he leveraged his experience in the United States to land his current full-time position.
InterExchange: Why did you decide to pursue an internship program abroad and what have you been up to since you returned to France?
Fabien: “I did my internship at a marketing agency called Pulse Creative in New York City. I had the chance to travel with my parents to different destinations in the U.S. when I was young and I also attended an English school in Miami for one year.
Since I was able to vacation, experience the student life, and was very enthusiastic about American culture, I wanted to experience the U.S. workplace culture and worklife. I had the opportunity to go abroad while I was pursuing a Master’s degree in Business. Being a sports enthusiast, I thought interning in New York would be the best decision for me especially since when you think about brand advertising from Nike or Underarmour, you think about those huge agencies in New York. I ended up choosing to do a 6-month internship at a marketing agency.
Obviously French and American workplace culture are so different from each other, so overall it was good to learn different marketing approaches. This was also a good addition to my resume and when I returned to France, I graduated from Toulouse Business School. In France, once you graduate, you are given another chance to obtain a visa for 18-months and go abroad again, so I decided to return to Miami with a company on a J-1 Trainee visa. This really helped me to gain even more international experience to return to France and apply for an international company.”
InterExchange: What were some of the cultural highlights of your experience and what were some of the professional highlights?
Fabien: “Professionally, I think I experienced more of a culture shock with my workplace experience, because as an intern in France, you’re doing more of the gritty, grunt work, doing all the analytics and more tasks that are behind the scenes. But once you get to the U.S., you actually get to experience the culture of the workplace and are given many opportunities to develop professionally.
For me, it was with a marketing agency, and they just gave me and my peers the chance to basically shine if you’re doing a good job. I was able to meet the clients, attend company events, where I was able to meet everyone and network. I feel like I was able to meet very important people that I would never have the opportunity to if I was in France. They definitely reward you for good work here in the U.S.
Culturally, because New York is such a melting pot, you’re able to meet so many different people. Many of my co-workers became good friends since it wasn’t a very big office. I was the only French person there, so they were very happy to learn more about my culture. I think it was good for both of us to learn about each other’s cultures because we’re all so different and have different perspectives. I was also able to experience Christmas and Thanksgiving, which was a nice experience, too. Overall, I had a great time!”
InterExchange: What connections did you make while you were in New York and how has helped you professionally and in your job search?
Fabien: “I actually started looking for a job in France while I was still in the U.S. completing my internship, so when I went back to France, the process was pretty simple. My host employer really helped me a lot because they knew that I would only be in the U.S. for a certain amount of time, so once the time was up, they did pretty much everything they could to help me settle back in France. They provided me with a recommendation letter on LinkedIn and otherwise. I think they were happy to make this nice gesture.
In the beginning, it was a little bit difficult to find a full-time job in France because of COVID-19, and video interviews were just being sorted out. But once I was in France, it took me about 2-months to receive a long-term contract offer.”
InterExchange: How do you think your experience abroad made you more attractive to prospective host employers?
Fabien: “I think the French job market is very interesting in the sense that it can be very competitive. Usually the top 10 business schools are competing with one another because we all share similar skill sets, so having an internship abroad makes you stand out and is always a plus when applying for certain companies.
I think doing an internship abroad shows your adaptability and speaks volumes about you because you’re leaving your home country, your family, you’re going somewhere you don’t know, interning in a place you don’t know, so it means that you’re pretty responsive and able to adapt to your environment. Also, in France, it’s important to have good English skills if you want to work in an international company.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was very fortunate to intern for a company that rewarded good work, so I feel like I was able to gain more confidence to produce better work, to speak to my peers and present, and to learn from the people around me. To me this is just invaluable experience compared to France and it is the soft skills you acquire that make a huge difference.”
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