COVID-19 couldn’t stop fourth-year Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) student, Radhika Tandon from finding an internship in Paris and making her mark at the annual L’Oreal Brandstorm contest. She shares how she overcame the pandemic odds to close in on her dreams.
Tell us a little about yourself. What have you got lined up for your future?
I’m currently working remotely for an NGO in Kolkata, after which I’ll start my final year at ESSEC Asia-Pacific. My last semester will begin in January 2022, and I’ll complete it by doing an exchange at King’s College in London. I hope to find a role at L’Oreal in Paris after graduating and might consider a Master’s Degree in Marketing, specializing in luxury and beauty.
How did the pandemic affect your academic year?
In spite of the pandemic, I flew to France for my exchange at the ESSEC Cergy campus. When I arrived, classes were held on campus, but when the country went back into lockdown, classes were immediately shifted online. To make the most of my time, I travelled down to the South of France where I could still enjoy the natural beauty and go on walks.
Weren’t you or your parents worried about the situation there?
My parents supported me as they understood that I wanted global exposure and the experience of travelling and living in different countries—staying home in India would put a hold on that. I also thought it would be a good chance for me to find an internship in Paris as I would be able to physically go down for interviews.
Did you manage to secure an internship? Tell us about the process.
I was so determined to get an internship in France that I created a web resume for myself. I thought that visuals would show more than a one-page resume, so I developed a three-page website where I talked about my personal experiences and added some pictures from my travels—basically showing more of my personality.
I posted the link to the web resume on LinkedIn along with a short summary about myself and mentioned that I was looking for an internship. A lot of people reacted to that post, and companies actually started approaching me!
That’s how I found my six-month internship with a company in France called Your-Comics. The company creates a lot of infographics and videos for big companies like Dior, L’Oreal and Ubisoft.
Are there other examples of how you went out of your way to make an impression on your potential future employers?
L’Oreal is my dream company and I’ve been looking at ways to learn more about the culture and people, so when I came across the L'Oreal Brandstorm competition, I thought it would be a great way to gain exposure and experience.
My team, called MakeUp Your Mind, realized that with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, consumers craved a holistic and fun online shopping experience, so we transformed the online retail experience with “retailtainment”.
When we were selected as the Top 10 National Finalists, we were given the wonderful opportunity to receive personalized mentoring sessions with the L’Oreal experts. My team had the privilege to work directly in collaboration with the E-Commerce Director of NYX!
We hear your team eventually won the national finals! What were some challenges you overcame?
Yes, there were over 1,500 other participants and we were the only undergraduate team taking part!
My team struggled a lot because we were split between three countries, time zones, and work schedules. Managing that itself was a great learning experience. It taught us immense teamwork and team spirit.
Presenting in front of the CEO, CMO, and the Head of HR was also really intimidating, however, we practiced hard to polish our presentation. I think the innumerable presentations we did at ESSEC really gave us an edge compared to the other teams while presenting!
Looking back at the year, how have you changed and what have you learned about yourself?
Transformation for me is a personal trajectory. I ask myself: "Am I a better person than I was yesterday?” and "Did I learn something new today?".
Over the last year, I have definitely become much more independent and confident. I have learned that nothing is impossible if you have the will to work for it.