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The Indian computer engineering graduate interning at L’Oréal Paris

master's student
Zaid Zafar Farooqui is pursuing his Master of Management at the EDHEC Business School. Thanks to a gap year incorporated into his programme, he is interning at L'Oréal's headquarter in Paris. Source: Zaid Zafar Farooqui

L’Oréal. That’s the name that comes to mind for most business students when they are choosing a place to work. At least that is what the Universum 2021 global rankings of business students’ favourite companies suggest. 

For master’s student Zaid Zafar Farooqui, he is living his dream of working at the world’s largest beauty company in Paris. Although he was formally trained in computer engineering, the Indian native felt a strong pull towards marketing, so much so that he chose to pursue a Master in Management (MIM) at the EDHEC Business School in France.

“When you look at the ranking in the Financial Times, France has the top 10 business schools — so it was a no-brainer for me because I wanted to study in the best schools and take the best opportunity for myself,” the master’s student explains. 

Farooqui’s big break came when he and his MIM classmates won the 2022 L’Oréal Brandstorm France Nationals, where they triumphed over 2,500 participants and 600 projects. Their product? An eyeliner for visually impaired individuals by using cameras and motion sensors. 

While that did not land him the opportunity to work for the global beauty company, it certainly caught their attention. During the national finals, they presented their product at L’Oréal’s headquarters in Paris to a jury of employers involved in marketing, human resources and even the CEO. 

master's student

Farooqui (pictured on the right) with his team at the 2022 L’Oréal Brandstorm France Nationals, where they emerged as winners. Source: Zaid Zafar Farooqui

Deviating from the norm

Farooqui wasn’t afraid to develop his interest in management as an information technology undergraduate student in a country renowned for producing computer science graduates.

“In my second year, I worked as a public relations officer for the student council. It was very management orientated,” Farooqui shares. “I developed marketing plans and communicated with people both in and outside my school.”

This wouldn’t be his first brush with management. It wasn’t until his time as a Marketing Strategy and Market Analysis Intern at Layover Global in Mumbai that he truly discovered his passion for the subject.

“This was a proper push towards management. In this internship, I learned what social media is, how we use it to leverage any business and the managerial aspects of a business,” he tells Study International.

Finding the perfect blend of data and marketing

Despite pursuing his MIM, the KJ Somaiya College of Engineering alumnus continued to leverage his technical expertise — and his role as an International Market Analyst Intern was the perfect blend of both worlds.

“When I left engineering, I realised that I have these specific technical skills. For example, I think I’m good with Excel, SQL, Python, Tableau and many technical things that are not readily available in many courses. People are looking for these things,” the master’s student shares.

At L’Oréal, the MIM student deals with retail data. That involves understanding the customer’s purchasing history and using that data to grow the business. “I enjoy my technical role now. It’s not as technical as my engineering programme,” says Farooqui.

master's student

Farooqui (pictured on the left) with the interns at L’Oréal Paris. Source: Zaid Zafar Farooqui

Studying abroad in Paris

When choosing a country to pursue his MIM, Paris was a natural choice. “France, Germany and the UK are famous for their business schools. For a while, I was learning French, so studying in France would be the perfect place for me to practice the language. Besides, I’m very passionate about French culture and history,” Farooqui shares.

Studying here, however, comes with some unique difficulties. His biggest challenge? The language barrier. As a master’s student living in the north of France, most locals converse in the national language. Fortunately, Farooqui felt welcomed at his business school and managed to build connections with MIM master’s students from Italy, Spain and China.

Finding a suitable internship to develop your skills as a MIM master’s student can be a challenging endeavour. In this, Farooqui suggests students specialise in a niche — whether it is marketing, strategy, accounting or finance — and apply for jobs and internships within that field.

master's student

Paris is home to some of the best business schools in the world. Source: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

‘Don’t rush towards change’

Asked what advice he would give computer science graduates who want to pivot into business, Farooqui highly implores graduates to be sure that they want to make that switch. He explains that it can be overwhelming for them to grasp new business concepts like marketing strategy, business management and many more.

For those keen on making that switch, he advises: “Take internships and expose yourself to the opportunities out there. Understand what suits you. Is it accounting, finance, consulting, management, product development or product management?”

He adds: “If you can, try to replicate your skills from computer science to management. When these things match, great things will come.”