Written on 02 March 2021.
Without doubt, 2020 was a challenging year and 2021 has not been very different. On the plus side, the Covid-19 pandemic allowed us to gauge the readiness and adaptability of our team and services. When I think back on how we were able to go fully online from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, while maintaining 100% of our services, activities, and events, it makes me very proud ‒ both of our team for its commitment and our corporate partners for their engagement.
When you are on campus, you meet students all the time: in the classroom, at events … they drop by the Career Centre to ask a question or request help. For us, it was important to maintain that close contact with students, even when operating remotely. The Career Centre team has made incredible efforts to follow up with students, both in France and abroad, be it in the programme or in internships. They started to contact each student as early as January 2020, beginning with those doing internships in China and then Asia more broadly. Very quickly, it became evident that we needed to get in touch with all of our students in France and around the world.
One of our strengths is that we are able to offer a personalised approach to career development. A big part of our work has to do with individual career advice and training. In 2020, we conducted 10,449 individual career advice sessions and mock interviews, most of them virtually! Many of our training and recruitment events are also customised to the needs and career goals of students: by sector, international careers, international students. Some 85% of what we do is customised to groups of students. We kept these training and recruitment events going in virtual format, trying to find the best online tool for each one.
We had to, if we wanted our students and corporate partners to achieve their goals. Interestingly, though, we were already thinking about many of these innovations beforehand; the health crisis merely accelerated them. We launched an online career self-development tool for students, created two new virtual fairs, and increased the number of online sectoral/country alumni workshops. One of the biggest challenges was to replicate the human contact you have at recruitment events. We needed to ensure that our students and recruiters were able to have that individual interaction, even if it was through a screen. This is why most of our corporate events now include a job-matching and e-interview section.
Each student works at his or her own pace and has his or her specific needs. There are also timing aspects, depending on a student’s career goals. If you are looking for an internship or a job in investment banking, where the recruitment processes begin very early, you will need to be ready to apply almost at the start of the academic year. If you are looking for a marketing position in France, in contrast, you have more time to prepare. Regardless, there are steps and training that the Career Centre deems essential to all students if they want to succeed. The online self-assessment tool allows us to accomplish just that: we give students access to tests, training, and advice that they can follow at their own pace, while maintaining a structured approach to career development. It has also allowed us to move much of the essential general training online and concentrate on smaller, customised workshops adapted to students’ individual goals.
Our main mission is to help all students find their mandatory internships or their first job and to help our corporate partners attract, identify and hire the best talent. Our second goal is to ensure a high level of satisfaction among both students and recruiters. From the start, we decided that we would still hold all of our usual recruitment events, along with some new ones, to help students during this unprecedented crisis. Once you have made your decision, you have to stick to it!
The key to a successful event is to listen. The Employer Engagement team did a great job of understanding the needs of recruiters, as well as the time and technical constraints imposed by lockdown and working from home. All of our corporate partners have been incredibly supportive during this period! And students have responded by attending events in their droves.
The hardest part has been to identify the best online tools and platforms that would enable us to deliver our recruitment events. Sometimes, the fanciest platforms are not necessarily the most suitable. You need to be reactive, admit when you make a bad choice, and quickly move on … In the end, EDHEC already had many of the tools we needed and we had the support of the EDHEC PiLab to quickly train both our teams and external users.
In the end, one of the positive outcomes of doing all our events online was that we were able to open them up to all students, across all of our campuses, in France and abroad. This is why we plan to hold many online events in future, even when the situation returns to normal.
It makes us all extremely proud! It is a recognition of the team’s hard work and commitment. It reaffirms the validity of our customised and results-driven approach. However, it is also very humbling and reminds us that we can never take things for granted. If anything, it pushes us all to be innovative and agile and to constantly evaluate what we do.