In a city that never sleeps, you’ll find an international student living out her dream. This student, who only wants to be identified as Charu, hails from India.
Although she was formally trained in engineering and computer science, Charu made a bold move when she decided to leave her stable career as a Server Engineer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and enrol for an MSc in Fashion, Design, and Luxury Management in France.
She explains what led her to apply to Grenoble Ecole de Management. “The fashion industry has always been a goal of mine to work in. Engineering became my alternative because unconventional careers in fashion, sports, and entertainment are viewed as risky.”
The Indian native’s desire to change perceptions towards those who pivot from STEM to the arts brought her to a country that was both rich in history and culture: “France is the first nation that anybody thinks of when they consider style and elegance.”
Despite her optimism, Charu knew there would be setbacks and the road ahead of her was long and winding. She wasn’t as proficient in French as she should be, so her goal of getting into a school, surviving in France, and landing a job at the same time seemed a tough nut to crack. Nonetheless, she knew what she was getting herself into.
A much needed change
Charu’s resilience knows no bounds: the 27-year-old made switching from engineering to fashion design and management look effortless. “It was challenging because I had the skills and passion for fashion and was drawn to careers that needed my artistic side to reveal itself.”
The reason she said farewell to her job as a Server Engineer was just her being honest with herself. Charu was never inclined towards the engineering field and needed clarity on where she was headed, career-wise.
“I took a break after my first job and considered what I could do with my technical and communication talents. Fortunately, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge about the digital marketing environment, which has literally changed since the lockdown,” she tells Study International.
Breaking into the elusive luxury industry
Brands today are developing in light of digital transformations and adapting to the digital age. It was a change that Charu wanted to be a part of as someone who enjoys creating stories and utilising creativity to promote and represent brands.
“I found many business schools in France when searching for universities there. When I looked at the complete course format, I knew that the course at Grenoble Ecole de Management was what I was looking for.”
The course educated her on all the fundamentals of the profession, and allowed her to get in touch with experts within the luxury industry. “Grenoble Ecole de Management offers the fundamentals of every master’s degree program, including topics like accounting, people management, finance, sustainability, customer-relationship management (CRM), and marketing. If it hadn’t been for my school, I would not have had a chance to present a live business case with Dior at the Dior lab,” she adds.
Things took a turn after the international student graduated from her master’s programme. Her ability to speak French halted at an intermediate level, and it soon proved to be an obstacle for her internship search. Indian-born Charu applied to around 200 jobs, and had a hard time getting her foot in the luxury industry door.
Tapping into her STEM skills
Her search began in January of this year and ended in July, when she finally got her big break in Boukman Rhum as a Digital Marketing Manager.
Charu shared that the internship offer was no easy feat. What helped her land her dream job? Her answer: browsing through LinkedIn, the social media platform primarily used for professional networking and career development.
“I was contacted by the founder of the company, who was impressed by my profile because I had expertise in both STEM and digital marketing,” says Charu.
The Sri Venkateshwara College of Engineering alumnus learned from that day onwards never to regret what she majored in college. Her STEM background, coupled with her qualification to work in the luxury industry, was not working against her but instead became the very reason she is now thriving.
Now, Charu is doing better than ever working in the beautiful city of Paris. “I absolutely love the vibe of the city. Paris has a hustle culture and it never sleeps and there’s no judgement here. I can even go so far as to say that Paris welcomes people from all walks of life.”
Studying abroad is never a waste of time
Asked what advice she had to give students who are thinking of studying in France, Charu first declares that it had been nothing short of amazing for her because she always liked being in a multicultural environment. She highly implores would-be students to improve their French as much as they can even before they book a flight to the country.
Not wanting those who aspire to work in the luxury industry give up hope, Charu gives some last words of encouragement: “Strive to learn as much as you can about the field you want to enter. Find your specialty and master it. Reach out to alumni, send a letter to hiring managers, and ask fashion and luxury industry professionals for help.”