It was June 2017 and I was looking for an internship ASAP. In my mind I had only targeted application at French luxury companies: LVMH, Chanel, Hermes, etc. After many sent applications and the “thank you for participating” emails I had to widen my horizons if I wanted to find an internship in France.
Then it appeared, Marketing Intern for the Zone Americas ACD International, L’Oréal. It seemed to be just there for me; and it was. After applying and passing the interviews with HR and the managers I finally got the internship position and the adventure was about to start.
Let me put you in track by explaining a bit about the company for those of you who do not know much about it. L’Oréal is a French company based in Paris, with more than 100 years of history in the cosmetics industry. It has become the worldwide leader in beauty and a reference in beauty innovation. According to the L’Oréal 2016 Annual Report, the company is present in 140 countries and their main markets are Europe, United States and the Asia Pacific region. It has 5 divisions: Consumer Products (L’Oréal Paris, Garnier, Elseve, etc), Professional Products (Kérastase, Redken, L’Oréal Professional, etc), Active Cosmetics (La Roche-Posay, Vichy, Skinceuticals, etc), Luxury (YSL, Armani, Lancome, etc) and the Body Shop that was sold to a Brazilian company on June 2017.
Now, when you are looking for an internship you will hear all kind of rumors and sayings about L’Oréal because of the workload, competitive environment and “particular” people. I heard things such as, “You are going to stay super late at the office”, “They are going to exploit you” and “They are b*tchy, they make interns cry”. When I talked to some friends and French people about what I was going to do in the next months, these are the phrases that stuck with me the most. Comments like this caused fear in me and make me questioned if I had made the right decision or not. Now, after 6 months spent in L’Oréal I confirm that I definitely did choose well, let me tell you why.
I was hired for the International Active Cosmetics Division, Zone Americas for La Roche-Posay and Vichy. I knew very little about the brands, the heritage and the specifications of what they provided besides the cosmetic outcome. These brands are specialized in sensitive skin and specifically La Roche-Posay is recommended as an adjunctive treatment to severe skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis among others. This being said is important to state that the way to approach the target is not only through social media and other ATL/BTL tactics, but also through medical visits, which will end in prescriptions and ideally a product purchased.
On my very first day, my team greeted me with a “Welcome Breakfast”. As you may think, it was very French: Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Pain au Raisins, Tartine and jam and of course coffee with no discretion. There I was able to meet my two managers, coordinators and assistants of the Americas zone team. We got to talk, tell anecdotes of our experiences in the metro and laugh a lot. It was a good welcoming. Then the induction started and I lot of reading was involved about the company, the division, the brands, the franchises, the products, the market and so on. It was an intense first week of reading, retaining information and learning, but I finally knew what were my duties and what was expected from me being in this position.
A common day in the zone Americas started with an “Hola a Todos” and a cup of coffee. After this, I reviewed my emails to answer some replies from the countries or international marketing colleagues who needed our support. Then I went through my to-do list and daily duties, which could be preparing the sell out report or continuing with the research on a competitor that includes searching numbers on the sell out data, social listening, getting products and trying them, etc. During the day I usually got requests from the international marketing team to get data from our countries. This allowed me to discuss with interns, project managers and axe directors. Also, I could participate in some calls with the countries to discuss the launch of a new product, participation on a dermatological congress or any other topic that arises at the time.
One matter that surprised me the most about the culture in L’Oréal was the coffee breaks and lunches because networking is important in the company. You have to create your own network and be able to sustain it. I remember I had to invite project managers and axe directors within two weeks in advance to get scheduled a 15 minutes chat while getting a coffee. Somehow I was able to manage it and I got to meet people from all divisions and different departments.
Another matter was the mentoring I received since I arrived. It was nurturing to get a manager to accompany me through the whole internship, asking what I think, how I feel and considering my ideas and helping me develop these to a macro level rather than the micro one I have been used to. We were able to discuss what I needed to improve and guide me through the process to achieve it. It was complete pleasure to work with this team because I was truly learning.
Finally, what I have learned from my L’Oréal experience is that: Yes, workload is a lot, late nights will happen, but all jobs are like that and the more responsibility you get more work you will have. We just need to face it and be emotionally intelligent. Competitive environment, I haven’t seen this on my team and ACD, I would say they all work as team and each of them has a specific role to fulfill. Particular people…who is not a bit particular? There are lots of personalities and attitudes; and among them amazing people. My team was welcoming, open to discuss any topic and always with a smile and positive attitude.
– Enrique JAIMES, MSc Marketing, Management and Communication, Class of 2018