When ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) alumna Pauline Grimault responded to an ad on an ESSEC Facebook Group back in 2021, she wasn’t actually sure she wanted the role of a marketing intern for the global video game development company Virtuos.

To her surprise, the marketing director from the SMIB program caught on to her hesitation. When she shared her true ambition— to become a producer, he recommended her for the management trainee program instead.

Fast-forward to today, and Pauline is building her career as a line producer for Virtuos’ Kuala Lumpur office.

Her serendipitous story, of how the alumni networks open doors, is something that many from the SMIB program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific can relate to.

Finding Career Clarity

Fellow alumni Madeleine Guo, a consultant at BCG’s Singapore office, and Adriel Ronald Caumban, a digital marketer in the Philippines, for example, credit SMIB alumni for helping them gain clarity about their careers.

Adriel’s breakthrough came when speaking with an alumna from the digital marketing field.

“She advised me on networking, how to get an internship in Singapore, and even how to refine my career goals,” Adriel, who graduated in 2022, shares.

Her advice helped him choose between pursuing a career in consulting or digital marketing—and to his surprise, she even forwarded his resume to her network, eventually helping him land his first digital marketing internship.

Madeline, who was angling for a role in consulting, had a similar experience with an SMIB alumni who works at BCG.

“He was able to give me great recommendations about resources to use for my interview preparation and share valuable insights about the working culture and processes at the firm.

His sharing resonated with me and enabled me to envision myself working at the firm, which ultimately helped me make an informed choice about the offers I received,” she says.

Alumni Pay It Forward

Julie Ing, VP of Strategy and Operations at Swiss Re, notes that alumni support has continued since she was in the SMIB program in 2010.

“We’d reach out to whichever alumni we could find in Singapore and ask questions about their career, their aspirations, and how they found work in Singapore. We also had a study trip to Japan where we were very welcomed by the alumni there, and it had great opportunities to get career advice,” she recalls.

To pay it forward, Julie regularly returns to the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus to speak with SMIB students during Career Day, when other alumni return to share their respective career journeys.

Inspiration and Hope for the Future

Agathe Colom, EY’s Global Consulting Talent Supervising Associate, who, like Julie, also returns regularly for Career Day, testifies how these interactions are valuable for students.

“When I was a SMIB student myself, I found it so impactful to hear different alumni share about their journeys—to find out why they chose to stay in Singapore, how easy or difficult it was from a professional and personal perspective, and the process they took to find a job they enjoyed,” she says.

She adds: “Besides wanting to share about my journey as a working professional in Singapore, I also want to tell them what I would have wanted someone to tell me back then: don’t worry too much. Work hard, but remember that nothing is career-defining at this stage of your life. Learn as much as possible, and most importantly, invest in your network. Modules and grades may seem important to you now, but people and relationships are what matters in the long run.”

It’s simple advice, but hearing it from someone who has experienced it firsthand adds weight to the words, giving students some much-needed encouragement for the future.