Going Back to School with Work Experience: Lessons from a Summer Intern
Summer is drawing to a close which means cooler temperatures, earlier sunsets, and ‘back to school’ for students. And our very own summer intern—Oliver Dubois du Bellay—is among them. As part of Adecco’s Way to Work program (which gives deserving young students and graduates a paid opportunity to intern at Adecco or with our clients), Oliver landed the opportunity and was a tremendous help to our Marketing and HR departments, even gaining his own hashtag: #OliverTheIntern. After an exciting and informative three months at Adecco Canada’s HQ in Toronto, Oliver is taking what he’s learned back to McGill University in Montreal, where he is studying International Development, East Asian Language & Literature and Anthropology. But before he does, we asked him to share his experience with our Lead Blog readers.
Tell us a little about yourself, what you’re studying and how you came to Adecco for your internship. How can other young business-minded leaders land similar opportunities?
Hi, everyone! I went to school at the Lycee Francais in Sydney, Chicago and Toronto and am currently attending McGill. I hope to complete an MBA from ISEAD and become an International Business consultant.
Networking is my number one piece of advice for other young students and professionals. I actually learned about this internship through my mother, and while it was important to me and her to make my own destiny, it made sense to embrace her recommendation. As many of you know, the hardest part of getting hired is simply getting a callback, and that’s why it helps to turn to your contacts and ask around for opportunities. You never know what they may find or who they know; it may be a perfect match for your goals! And remember to return the favour when your connections come to you for help or networking support.
What do you think made you successful in the application process?
The advice I gave myself when applying for summer internships was not to be shy with applications. I sent in a huge amount of résumés and applications to various jobs until I found the right one.
I would also advise adapting your resume and cover letters to each position to show that you’re determined. If you do get lucky enough to get an interview, you must research the company. Knowing the company is the best way to show your interviewer that you are interested and engaged.
You also must be able to explain everything on your resume and know it inside and out. Know your strengths and weaknesses thoroughly and adapt them to the role in question. I would also recommend having a few anecdotes about past experience that you think could help you secure the position—stories about your leadership skills, your attention to detail and how you have overcome challenges/setbacks. These are usually the most important to showcase.
For any application process, you just have to be yourself and try your best to seem confident. Confidence is most definitely key in that sort of situation.
What projects have you been able to contribute to throughout your Adecco internship?
The project I participated in the most was the 2016 Win4Youth Solidarity Day event. I helped to organize the Canada-wide event in which Adecco staff accumulated kilometers for a group donation to foundations that support underprivileged children and their families around the world.
Another interesting aspect of my position was when I helped to market and recruit temporary staff for an exciting show that was coming to Toronto. It taught me the ins and outs of the process and I got to come up with creative strategies to reach the talent out there.
What sort of training have you received while you’ve been at Adecco?
As mentioned, when I was asked to help with recruiting I learned a lot about the process, including confidentiality protocols and how barrier-free screening is performed. A lot goes into the preliminary rounds of finding and assessing candidates. This was especially interesting for me as I will be re-entering the workforce permanently after I finish my degree and this has given me an inside view on what people look for during interviews, how to wow the interviewer and what successful candidates do to stand out.
What would you say you learned most in your Marketing role? How about in your HR role?
In my Marketing role, I played a part in the social media management of the various accounts representing Adecco Canada. That taught me a great deal about how a major multinational organization expresses itself on social media and how respectful, considerate interactions are essential when communicating with clients, candidates and the public—in any forum.
In my HR role, I learned about the back-end of the company and how employees felt about their work and day-to-day experiences. I made surveys and analyzed the results relating to training and development, which was incredibly interesting. It gave me a look into the bigger picture of what the HR department does for a company that has multiple offices and branches across the country.
What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve received this summer?
It would have to do with the formatting of my resume as well as the general attitude to take when in an interview. Again, I have to stress the benefits that came from having the opportunity of completing a summer internship at the world’s largest staffing firm. I have learned what interviewers look for in candidates and how important the formatting and content of your resume really is.
Has anything inspired you while you’ve been here?
The most inspiring aspect to me is when you place someone in a job that you know is the perfect fit for them. That’s what Adecco is all about; creating a database of individuals with various qualifications and aspirations and pairing them with clients in a way that makes work fun yet productive for both sides.
What is something you learned about this industry that you didn’t anticipate coming in?
I’ve learned that there are many jobs on the market that people aren’t necessarily aware of. I know that people my age (“Millennials” if you will) are under the impression that there is a lack of employment opportunities because of what we are constantly told. This position has shown me that there is a lot of demand but also a lot of supply; you just have to know where to look and know how to sell yourself in an application and interview.
Did anything surprise you about working at a global corporation?
What was surprising about working in Adecco Canada’s Head Office was that it didn’t feel like a global corporation, in the best of ways. Everyone was so warm and friendly, and even with the thousands of people placed by the company, everyone is treated like family and the colleagues do their absolute best to place people in the most fitting jobs.
What has this experience taught you about leadership, management and teamwork?
This experience has taught me that when organizing an event for a nation-wide company, it is imperative that you prepare for every scenario and make sure everything is well planned and clearly explained. The most important thing about being a leader is to put yourself into other people’s shoes to understand how they would perceive instructions; that makes everything and everyone more successful.
What has been the single best/most valuable experience you’ve had while here?
The Win4Youth Solidarity Day was incredible. All the planning leading up to it really made it an exceptional day and it was all for a great cause. It provided me with great hands-on experience with event planning in such a large organization.
What’s next for you after this?
After the summer, I am going back to school to finish my degree. Once I’m done, I’m looking forward to getting more work experience to build my resume. When I feel confident enough with what I have accomplished, I will hopefully go back to school for my MBA. Of course, this is all subject to change as I experience more and truly understand what it is I want to do.
Has this experience helped solidify what you what you want to do in the future? How will this opportunity help with that?
This internship has been very useful for me. Although my current goal of becoming an International Business Consultant does differ from the internship, it has given me a new perspective on marketing. I have realized that I can use my social studies background to my advantage when targeting a specific audience. Marketing may even be the path I take in the future! What is great about internships is that they give you an opportunity to try it out, which I believe is the most important thing—especially when you’re young.
Would you recommend an internship experience to other students/graduates?
I would absolutely recommend an internship experience to anyone who is considering it. It is a great way to really understand the position you are interested in and it gives you valuable work experience. Plus, if you do a good job, you may even be asked to take on a permanent position within the company.
We wish Oliver the best of luck in the coming school year! Adecco thanks him and all the interns out there for their hard work over the summer. We know it will pay off when it’s time to enter the workforce full-time, and we look forward to seeing all you will achieve. Oliver can be found on LinkedIn.