If I were to cite one lesson I’ve learned in my experience as a Silver Scholar so far, it’s that I shouldn’t be afraid to set high goals for myself.
I was born and raised in a small town in the northeast of France, right next to Germany. While my parents’ entrepreneurial career taught me that I could accomplish a lot as long as I worked hard, studying for an MBA at an Ivy League college at just 22 was beyond my wildest dreams. crazy.
Having grown up in a bicultural environment, I wanted an international experience for my undergraduate studies, so I chose the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). I loved the bustling city of London and built a strong theoretical foundation in finance and economics at a very research-intensive university. As I loved numbers, I led mathematics and econometrics courses for LSE undergraduate students. I also co-organized the French LSE Forum 2020, where we invited French CEOs from various sectors to be interviewed by LSE professors and students. Learning directly from different industry leaders was captivating.
One summer, I did an internship in a large private bank in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked on sustainable finance in the private banking sector and was fascinated by the potential of the financial sector to have a positive impact on society while making profits. This particular experience changed my life and shaped my next steps, and possibly my entire career.
When I began to consider graduate programs, Yale SOM’s mission resonated with me: to develop leaders for business and society. I realized that earning the holy grail of business education, an MBA, would be an opportunity to equip me with the practical skills I would need to succeed personally and professionally.
The SOM Silver Scholar program allowed me, along with a handful of other students in the cohort, to start my MBA directly after my undergraduate studies and to take a gap year between the first and second year in order to to gain work experience. Learning from SOM faculty and students who look beyond financial returns has been inspiring. This exceptional experience will undoubtedly greatly accelerate my career.
My first year at SOM was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes were hybrid and events were online. Yet, despite social distancing, I enjoyed SOM’s open culture and learned from inspiring teachers. The core curriculum helped me grasp the complexities of organizations and approach issues from the perspective of different stakeholders. But it’s learning alongside and working with students who have many years of experience in various industries that makes the Silver Scholar program such a unique experience. Being grouped into cohorts and learning teams creates a sense of community and has given me friends for life.
The Silver Scholar program also has its challenges – finding an extended internship as an international student being one of them. Companies are not used to hiring someone just for six months or a year. It forced me to think outside the box and find creative solutions to make the most of my gap year. Going to companies and explaining to them the value that my atypical profile could bring them is what helped me get my two internships.
I first worked in the Paris office of a private equity fund. I was part of the investor relations team but I also worked on a project to help the investment team share good ESG practices and value creation levers. Then I returned to the United States to work in the New York office of a venture capital fund. As part of the investment team, I worked on portfolio companies (financial performance analysis, market monitoring, growth analysis, company valuation, etc.) and analyzed investments potential in AgTech and FoodTech startups that have a positive impact on people and the environment. I loved being able to combine my financial skills and my desire to make an impact.
The sabbatical year is such a precious time. In addition to giving Silver Scholars work experience, it also allows them to take more risks and try out different industries before returning to SOM for their second year.
I am now very excited to return to SOM to complete the second half of my MBA, choose courses based on what I learned during my gap year, and meet a new cohort of MBA students. The goals I have set for myself remain true to SOM’s mission: to have an impact throughout my career and make a difference.