Go to Paris, they said. It’s just wine and cheese all day, they said. Well, when you take on two summer internships abroad, you skip the cliché for a while. The plus side? You experience the real essence of the HEC Paris MBA: a search for excellence, an international viewpoint and a solid community.
As the overture to summer break, the MBA program ends with the Saint-Cyr Leadership Seminar – three days spent enhancing your leadership skills through activities at the renowned French military academy. This was an inspiring way to end the first phase of our MBA, but also a physically demanding one. Having completed the Leadership Seminar on Friday, I was already in Barcelona for internship number one on Monday, working as a consultant for Globalpraxis.
Management consulting was as intense and detail-oriented as I expected it to be. With only 11 weeks to complete projects for two multinational clients, there was no room for mistakes. I applied almost everything that I learned in my finance and managerial accounting courses, making the internship a truly great hands-on learning experience.
From Gaudi’s dream to Kafka’s trance, I finished with Globalpraxis on a Thursday, and by Monday I was at the largest warehouse in Prague, starting internship number two with Amazon. My manager gave me a simple task: “Reduce costs by X%.” I applied 14 principles to the project. For 10 weeks, I gathered and analyzed relevant data, found the root cause, developed a team, implemented a local solution and proposed a scalable model for the region.
In order to efficiently implement my project locally, I needed to gain support from both managers and incumbents. This meant going down to the gemba and talking one-on-one with everyone, a task made more challenging by the fact that I didn’t know the local language. But that’s another lesson I’ve learned from studying for the past year with my classmates, who represent 52 nationalities: how to listen and be open-minded to other ideas. From this experience, I’ve learned that a language or cultural barrier can be overcome by focusing on an end result that will be beneficial to everyone.
During these internships, my friends from the MBA were my greatest source of work-life balance. Not only did numerous classmates come visit me in both countries, I also met alumni who were always open and willing to give advice and guidance, building upon the HEC Paris MBA community.
I don’t think I can call the past 4 months “summer” if all I did was work (though, trust me, I did have fun as well). I may not have returned to campus with a fabulous tan, but I did return with a greater sense of what I’m gaining from my MBA experience!