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#162: Shouri Bagchi – Use the right experience to get ahead in your chosen industry

“Targeting a particular industry or function? Find an internship where you can experience the day-to-day reality.” — Shouri Bagchi, MBA candidate

I came to Canada in 2002 to pursue an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. I would always compare notes on courses and the method of instruction with those of my high-school classmates who were doing their undergrad studies in India.

What struck from me from the very beginning was that higher education in Canada incorporated a great deal of real-world experience. These were designed to give students an understanding of the careers and functions we could look forward to post-graduation.

It was also apparent that potential employers really valued relevant industry experience. Thus when an internship opportunity came up during year three, I took a leap and decided to delay graduation by a whole year to complete a 16 month internship at John Deere Canada, one of the largest farming and construction machinery firms in the world.

What I gained most from my time at Deere was a keen understanding of the product (I worked in machine design) and, critically, the customers who buy the product.

So how did I leverage my internship experience towards a career? During my last year of school I attended an info session hosted by Caterpillar (CAT) and instantly connected with their representatives, based on my story and was invited to pursue a Management Trainee role at CAT. The interview process consisted of two panel interviews: one with HR to assess my communication ability and another with two group vice-presidents. I found that my industry knowledge allowed me to relax in both interviews, such that I was able to be myself and convey a sense of assurance in my skill-set that impressed the panelists.

My recommendations for employers, career centres and schools

I attribute my internship and career success in no small part to the talented team of recruitment staff at the Faculty of Engineering at Western. They were immensely helpful in connecting the class with employers who were, at the time, actively recruiting to strengthen their talent base.

This is prior to the 2008 financial crisis when many senior employees were contemplating retirement. Also for any recruitment team, it is very important to understand the needs of your talent base. In my case (I was an international student requiring a work visa) one of the recruitment staff shared her husband’s (he is an immigrant like me) work permit application experience with me. It is this kind of personal touch that makes all the difference.

What I’m doing now

I have decided after 6 years of post-graduate work experience to come back to school and pursue an MBA. In that time I took every opportunity to improve my professional skills and my team-work abilities. After several years in B2B sales I decided that I want to do something more strategic. I am working on an MBA at the Schulich School if Business with a focus on Marketing & Strategy.

My advice for other students and recent graduates

Targeting a particular industry or function? Find an internship where you can experience the day-to-day reality.

This #StudentVoice belongs to:

Shouri Bagchi
International MBA candidate, 2015
Schulich School of Business

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