It was the beginning of April when I walked into my first day at Continuum where I did my project work. After having gone through the Organizational Check-up, I still had the usual first day jitters, but I was confident that I could do the job.
The entire process of the project work, however, didn’t start on that spring day, but rather, a few months earlier.
Application and Placement
Sometime during the second term, the Career Services department at MIP put together a book with all of the photos and CVs of each MBA candidate that year. Something of a catalogue that they could show to companies participating in the Project Work. Some of these companies have already come by MIP for lectures or have hosted students on visits in their offices. Many have actually hired alumni in the past, so they are already familiar with the skills and values that the program cultivates.
This is really where your choice of concentration comes into play. Those who focused on global economics and finance, were placed before banks, consulting firms and investment houses. Those whose engineering background geared them towards the more technical side of management (operations, supply chain management, etc), took advantage of the large industrial sector just outside of Milan. Students whose specialties crossed industry boundaries, had a plethora of roles to apply for, and worked closely with Career Services to narrow down their options. A few of my own classmates actually left Italy all together for their Project Work, returning only for graduation in July.
Career Services at MIP are like über, highly personalised recruiters. Instead of just getting the job filled, they are looking to see what’s best for the students themselves. What companies are going to offer an exciting, challenging and thought provoking consulting project, and which students are best to fit the brief? They work closely with you to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. Each cover letter I wrote was checked and double checked, and I was given insight about the locations where I interviewed, guidance for the types of interviews I participated in (group interviews–not just for stores on the high street), and they were my personal advocate during the decision process. Just an example- they sent over the fashion design portfolio of an incredibly talented classmate of mine, to some fashion and luxury companies based in Milan as a way of giving her that special edge.
Once you have found your perfect match, you are assigned a professor to help guide you through the project, as well as to provide a specialised set of eyes for the report that you write up at the end–akin to a thesis advisor. Meetings are as frequent as schedules allow, but the more involved your advisor is, the better. Once again, the professor chosen to work with you is yet another personal touch. They are typically professors who have taught one of the core courses of the MBA and teach in one of your concentrations. So you go in, already having a good working relationship. This relationship is imperative because as you are working by yourself in a real job, at a real company, you want to make sure that you get the project done right (and not simply for your grade at the end).
If the Organisational Check-up was a turning point in my overall personal growth, my experience with the Project Work not only gave my career a new direction, but it showed that I could take what was once a pastime, and make a living out of it.
I mentioned to the team at Career Services that I had a growing interest in digital marketing and how continuously changing landscape of the internet was affecting marketing strategies. They were able to not only find me a project that worked on just that, but in an environment where they knew I would thrive.
I joined the brightly coloured, idea driven, Continuum Innovation, in their Milan offices in Navigli. Right away I could see that my education in Design & Luxury Management was going to be put to the test–I had always fancied myself as the bridge between the creative and the business, and this was my chance to prove it. Whilst working within the company, I didn’t feel as though I was an outsider, much like consultants can be, bur rather that my suggestions were being listened to and taken on board faster than I anticipated.
My advisor, Davide Chiaroni, met with me almost bi-weekly, on campus. Having these meetings grounded me and allowed me to focus on the task at hand. It also acted as a good way to transition from MBA life to the real world. The books I read and the research I did, drove much of the evidence used in my final report and presentation. Professor Chiaroni took an active role in editing my report and making sure that my presentation was up to snuff.
The Project Work ended well for me–I was asked to stay on at Continuum to help continue the implementation of my suggestions, and I still enjoy a great camaraderie with my former coworkers at the office.