Opportunities in a Time of COVID: Practice Makes the New Become Normal

To French-Polish student Cecile Jean, transformation is about adapting and changing the way one thinks. The second-year Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) student shares how her training as a flying trapeze artist gave her the strength to soar over obstacles during the pandemic year.

How did you feel moving across the world to live in Singapore, especially with the pandemic going on?

My main concern was arriving in Singapore in time for the start of the semester. I arrived in Singapore in late October and it was difficult to have to set up everything whilst attending classes.

But I liken this to my flying trapeze training. There are very challenging moments, like when I was practising doing a double backflip. I had to take off at a higher point, called a second raise. It felt destabilizing at first, but with practice, it became a new normal and today, it doesn’t scare me at all.

In the same way, moving to Singapore was daunting at first because it was new to me. But the beginning is always difficult and it’s always difficult to start—in fact, challenges always seem impossible when first approached, but with time and effort, anything can be accomplished.

Was it difficult to score an internship as a first-year student?

Not really. I found my internship with a consulting firm called Innovation is Everywhere through the JobTeaser portal. The Career Services team introduced us to the portal, and walked us through it so we know how to make the most of it.

After applying, I had a few rounds of interviews with my current supervisor, and had to complete an assignment before she offered me the role. The ESSEC Career Services team even helped me review the contract to make sure there were no issues.

With almost all companies working from home, how did you manage to fit in and make a good impression on your employer?

The company I am interning at is small and employees are spread out across Europe and Singapore. There is no office and everyone was already working from home since before the pandemic, with a few meetings in co-working spaces when needed. It was easy to fit in as everyone was already used to the work-from-home concept and were very welcoming.

I always try to make a good impression on my boss by submitting my assignments beforehand and not on the day they are due. I ask questions when necessary to demonstrate that I am paying attention and stay organized to ensure I don’t forget any assignments.These might seem like very simple or obvious things, but they help leave a good impression.

Looking back at what you’ve accomplished over the last year, share about a meaningful moment and what it has taught you.

One of the most meaningful moments for me was when I worked on a newsletter about carbon neutrality in e-commerce for an association in France. After researching, I found an e-commerce company that was the first in France to achieve carbon neutrality and managed to contact the co-founder and CEO through LinkedIn.

The process of finding a potential interviewee, contacting him, setting up a meeting, interviewing him and drafting the overall story boosted my confidence! I learned that I am capable of dealing with any situation—there is no need to worry as long as I work hard!

 Any advice for the future students of ESSEC?

Imagine you go to a business school and only learn about marketing, and your friend in another school learns about marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, business law, economics, and more. If you both apply for the same job, your friend is much more likely to get it as they have expertise not only in marketing, but in many other fields as well. 

In today’s world, we must be versatile and be able to adapt to every situation. To do this, we must learn about different tools. That is the beauty of the ESSEC BBA program.

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