Alumni report: Joanna Morais, AVISIA

Alumni Joanna Morais

What is your position today?

I am currently working as a data scientist consultant at Avisia in Bordeaux. Avisia is a French consulting company created in 2007. Originally based in Paris, it now has agencies in Nantes, Lyon, and more recently in Bordeaux. I carry out projects ranging from a few weeks to several months, during which I accompany clients on various subjects to explain or predict phenomena, using statistical methods and data science.

I have several missions, including, for example, predicting elevator failures, the departure of customers to competitors or whether a borrower will default, determining the customers most likely to be interested in an offer, explaining the market shares of car brands according to their media investments, and creating customer segmentation according to their uses and preferences.

In parallel with the missions at the client’s site, I am involved in a number of transversal projects in my company. Those projects consist in, inter alia, participating in an image recognition project through deep learning, implementing a communication and knowledge sharing tool, organising an internal data science hackathon, and recruitment.

I also give a Marketing Econometrics course to  Master students in Statistics and Econometrics, which is a very applied course. It is an activity I particularly appreciate; it is a pleasure for me to be able to give students an idea of what concretely awaits them in the professional world,  especially for data scientist positions.

 

What was your path from your Master’s graduation to this current post, and what are the key elements which helped making your choice?

I met the company Avisia at the Business Networking Day during my first year of Master in Economics and Statistics at TSE. The following summer I did a three-month internship there; it confirmed my interest in using quantitative methods based on real data to understand customer behaviors.

I graduated in 2014 and met another company, BVA, a French market research and consulting institute. With three other students, I carried out a project with BVA for six months: the objective was to analyse the impact of media investments on the market shares of car brands.

I then completed my final internship at INBOX, another consulting firm I met at the BND. BVA came back to me afterwards to offer me the opportunity to continue the student project I had been involved in as part of a CIFRE thesis – the French denomination for a thesis financed by a company.

This thesis was a wonderful three-year experience. I was able to evolve within the company while having a research activity and very strong ties with the academic world, and in particular with TSE, since my thesis directors were Christine Thomas-Agnan and Michel Simioni. Something I also loved were the conference trips abroad – in Prague, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chicago, Siena, … I met some very nice people, and improved my English! Moreover I won a prize for the best oral presentation at an international conference, and the Paul Sabatier prize for the best thesis in mathematics. This shows that corporate research has nothing to be ashamed of  compared to purely academic research!

I then stayed one year at BVA as a data scientist consultant. I was in charge of developing and leading an internal community of about 20 statisticians – methodological sheets, trainings, events – and the external development of the Data Intelligence offer. I also supervised a TSE student on a project to predict customer satisfaction.

Moving from a doctoral student status to being an employee is not such an easy step: I quickly wanted a new challenge. I left for Quantmetry – after being co-opted by a TSE alumni – a leading Parisian data science consulting firm, where I was able to improve my technical skills by working closely with data engineers on industrialised projects.

Some personal plans led me to leave Quantmetry and to move to Bordeaux, which coincided with Avisia’s desire to open an agency there.

 

According to your professional experience, what are the most useful skills you obtained during your degree?

Economics has given me a way of thinking about problems and understanding them. The very applied Master 2 courses with many projects – in groups or individually – the oral presentations, programming on R or Python, and professional speakers are great assets for professional integration. They prepare relatively well for the reality of the labour market. The existence of an alternative track for the M2 Statistics and Econometrics is, in my opinion, also very good.

The TSE network has been very useful to me at all stages of my professional career, whether for internships, for my thesis, or to find a job. I am now very proud to be able to maintain this link with the new generations through the course I give to M2 students.

 

What advice would you like to give to TSE students, or to the school?

My advice for students would be to really get involved in the projects they have to carry out – especially group projects – because this is by far what will best involve them in real life, and it will be an asset for job interviews.

My advice for TSE would be to maintain or even to further increase school-business relations, whether through the BND,  professional speakers, or research collaborations with companies.

 

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Gap year report, Philippe Schmitt

Gap year report - Philippe S

 What did you do during your gap year ?

During my gap year I studied in Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, from September 2018 to June 2019. I took courses in economics and ecology, econometrics, Korean economy and Korean.

What did you personally learn from this experience ?

I chose this university – which does not have any partnership with TSE – because I have been attracted by Korean culture for several years. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, and I loved that sensation. The mentality, the food, the customs, the architecture: everything was different, yet so pleasant. I struggled to make some Korean friends, as most of them do not feel comfortable with English. You really have to get involved in clubs or associations to meet the locals. Still, people are very friendly and respectful, so it was not hard to get used to the place. Learning a new language and living alone was a way to challenge myself, and in the end I won the day. Most of the time I felt comfortable in class thanks to my background in economics that I got from studying at TSE. Moreover courses like econometrics at Yonsei University helped me to begin serenely my M2 EEE, as we had lessons on time-series.

Did you do your gap year after your L3 or between your M1 and your M2 ? Why ?

I did my gap year after my M1. I arrived at TSE in L3, and initially planned to do a gap year straight after my bachelor. Unfortunately, it did not go as I planned, and I decided to get enrolled into the M1 at TSE and get some time to decide what I really wanted to do if I were to do a gap year. In the end I decided to apply on my own for this university in April and was accepted in June. I had the summer to fulfill all the administrative requirements and to prepare for my trip.

Would you have recommendations / advice to give to TSE students ?

I would definitely recommend to do a gap year if this is a dear project to you. It changed my way of thinking, my way of working, and it made me think more about the system I am living in. Being part of a minority was also a good experience, as there are very few foreigners in South Korea. I realised it was important to make a good impression, as I was one of the few strangers that most Korean would meet. South Korea was new to me and living there was a great experience. Cost of living was surprisingly cheaper than what I expected, and the administrative procedures – applying to the university, getting a VISA, … – was quite easy in the end. However, South Korea is not the most vegetarian-friendly country I have been to. But if it is not an issue for you, South Korea might be the right place for you!

Internship report: Arthur Biamouret, RATP

Internship report Arthur BWhere did you do your internship and what was your role?

I did a six months internship at the Réseau Autonome des Transports Parisiens – RATP – headquarter in Paris to validate my M1. My mission was to try to design an econometric model to estimate the buses demand in Ile-de-France. I did everything, from cleaning the database to building the econometric model, testing hypothesis, and write a report about my findings. I was part of a team of engineers, and was thus the only person with an economic background. Hence, I was quite autonomous.

How did your studies/courses help you during your internship?

R courses helped me a lot, as it was the software I was working on during my internship, along with Excel and QGIS, a cartography software. Courses in econometrics were of course also very useful. However, I hardly knew how to clean databases, and this is something I regret not having learnt more deeply at TSE. School projects like the Applied Econometrics project taught me how to efficiently communicate and attribute tasks in a group, and it helped me a lot during my internship. My team gave me responsibilities, trusted me, and was always here to help me if needed; this is something I really appreciated. On the other hand, my internship changed my way of reading and learning my lessons. I try now to distinguish between theoretical parts – like mathematical proofs – and practical parts, and focus more on the latter, as they are the most important parts to remember at the end of the day.

How did you find your internship ? What advice would you give to students who would like to find a similar internship ?

I found this internship through the Alumni website. I was then contacted by the team I ended up working with for a call interview. I have to say I found my internship pretty late, and would like to give some advice to students – especially to M1 students – who are searching for an internship. I sent a lot of applications from October, but realised later that I did not adopt the most optimal strategy. I appreciated the Professional Development course, but I think it only gives you bases that you really have to develop to have an original and personal application. It was my first internship, and at first I did not focus enough on concrete skills I had, that are school projects, technical courses like the Empirical Industrial Organization course, software and personal projects. I started by applying for the positions I wanted the most, and I regret having done so. If it is your first internship, I advise you to apply first to positions that are not in your top list to get some practice. I admit I was disappointed by the Business Networking Day in the sense that I was pretty sure to get my internship there, but I later realised this is an event that is mostly useful to M2 students, or to students that already have some experience. However, I still recommend you to go and practise your elevator speech, as it will give you some training for real interviews. Finally, I would recommend sending quite a lot of applications, as the response rate might not be high for your first internship. However, sending them in January instead of October – while still keeping an eye open for potential offers during the autumn period – might be better. Finding your first internship might be hard, but once you get it, it becomes way easier to find other internships. I then worked at Veltys consulting in Paris during my gap year, and found this position quite easily.

Internship report: Kilian Heutte, European Commission

Internship report - Killian Heutte

Where did you do your internship and what was your role?

Last summer I did my internship in Brussels at the European Commission in the Directorate General for Competition, F4 Merger Unit, which is specialised in Post and Transport Services.

The European Commission is an EU institution with a power of investigation and intervention. The working languages are English, French and German. It is a big institution, counting more than 32,000 European civil servants. They are divided into departments called “Directorates-General” – DG – which are sub-divided into services – specialised in particular market sectors – which are also sub-divided into units – policy areas.

My work consisted in the treatment of companies’ merger cases. I had to draft legal documents, all following strict templates; some were internal to the European Commission, and some others were to be published to inform EU citizens and companies. I also helped to interpret outputs of market investigations that were specifically made for the cases I was working on.

 

How did your studies / courses at TSE help you during the internship?

The mathematical skills I gained at TSE enabled me to create a methodology to compute different market shares for many sub-segmentations of given markets.

 

How did you find your internship? What advice would you give to students to find a similar internship?

I heard from other TSE students that the European Commission was helping students by offering them the possibility to get an understanding of its work through some special programs. I was looking for hands-on experience in the competition sector to complement my theoretical knowledge. It was clear to me that I wanted to work for such an institution, so I applied. To students who would like to find a similar internship, I would suggest to send an e-mail as soon as possible to “comp-visitors-scheme@ec.europa.eu”. You should provide some details concerning your availability, your motivation, the service/unit you would be interested in working in, etc,  with a CV and a cover letter.

 

 

Internship report : Rose Mba Mebiame, German Development Institute

ROSE MBA MEBIAME Internship Report

Where did you do your internship and what was your role?

I was a research assistant at the German Development Institute in Bonn, Germany. It is a public structure specialised in development and environmental economics. The institute is mainly doing research, but also provides consultancy services for government and ministries. I worked on two projects during my internship: the first one was about a behavioral experiment conducted in partnership with the World Bank to increase tax compliance in Kosovo; the second one was a study in partnership with the UNCCD on the impact of land degradation on poverty. I was mainly doing data cleaning, data analysis and literature reviews. It was a three-months internship. My internship was part of my M1.

 

How did your studies/ courses at TSE help you during the internship?

The courses that has been the most useful for my internship were econometrics and program evaluation. Moreover, I think the long-term group project done in M1 – Applied Econometric – is a very good way to initiate us to research and data analysis. It made me realise, for example, the amount of time required to complete the research process, from finding relevant databases to building econometric models, which I underestimated. This helped me to better organise my work and to anticipate deadlines during my internship. Regarding my experience in the institute, thanks to the projects I was working on but also to the other interns from different academic backgrounds I meet, I would say TSE gives us very rigourous and complete empirical methodologies that have much value in the professional world. The skills we have when graduating are actually not that common and give us a real advantage on the job market.

 

How did you find your internship? What advice would you give to students who would like to find a similar internship?

I discovered the institute through the excel file from TSE Careers listing all the internships done by TSE students in the past couple of years – it takes time to go through all of it, but it is a tool you should not neglect! I spontaneously applied, and was later contacted by one of the researchers who was interested in my profile. I think my main asset was to be a TSE student. My advisor had already hired several interns from TSE, and was satisfied with their work. Looking at offers on the alumni website or at internships that former TSE students did is a good way to go, because the companies already know the school and are often happy to hire other interns from there. Mr Alary often insists for us to be good TSE ambassadors outside of the school; I realise now the accuracy of it, as it builds TSE network and give better and more various opportunities to future TSE generations.

Besides, I would advise students to begin to search for an internship as soon as possible. I had sent all my applications by mid-January, and had my internship by the end of the month. I am happy I did so, because the second semester of the M1 is really short, and we had a lot of work to do from February on, mostly because of the Applied Econometric project.

Finally – especially for French students, do not be afraid to extend your research outside of France. It can be a good opportunity to discover an enriching culture as well as a different way of conceptualising work. Furthermore, it was, in my case, definitely cheaper than doing an internship in Paris.