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Vishal Jagrup, MBA Class of 2020: My Summer Internship with L’Oréal.


Your origin-story

My name is Vishal Jagrup. I am the son of two Trinidadian immigrants and was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up mostly on Staten Island. Staten is a unique place known for being the hometown of the Wu-Tang Clan and the cast of the Jersey Shore (I’d like to think I am more Wu-Tang Tang Clan than Jersey Shore).


I worked a variety of jobs in my youth including McDonald’s cook, gas station cashier, and call center worker. I think these experiences helped shape my current work ethic and humility as a professional.


Education

I have a Bachelors of Science in Economics and Finance from the College of Staten Island.


Picking peanuts on a Sunday in Leo, Burkina Faso with my host family during my Peace Corps pre-service training

Work history

Following my undergrad degree, I spent 4 years working in Supply Chain for Xerox. Then at the end of my fourth year of the company, I decided that I wanted to do something different, I wanted to challenge myself in a way I hadn’t been challenged before, and most of all I wanted to perform a type of service. I then resigned to join the United States Peace Corps, where I was sent to Burkina Faso to start my service. In Burkina I worked in the Community Economic Development sector, working on mostly agricultural projects where I launched soybean and honey production projects to help improve food security and strengthen women's employment/empowerment in my region. My service then ended early and abruptly because of civil unrest happening in Burkina, all Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated from the country with only a 24hrs notice. I then spent around 6 months working with the America Red Cross in New York City, before leaving for State College, PA to pursue my MBA at Penn State.


Traveling first-class in Koudougou, Burkina Faso


The specific reason you went to get your MBA… what was your goal?

My main goal in pursuing my MBA was to strengthen my academic knowledge of Supply Chain, as I had worked in this area during my career but did not have much experience studying it during my undergrad. I also wanted to build a strong personal and professional network through a residential MBA program.


What sort of internship were you looking for through your MBA program?

I wanted to work in a fast-paced company where I could learn a ton and work with a product that people could get really excited about.



Did your internship fulfill your expectations?

My internship at L’Oréal did fulfill a lot of these expectations, the beauty industry was super-fast paced, with multiple product launches happening every month. I also was able to learn a lot of new skills in Power Bi, and VBA that I did not necessarily expect to pick up.


What were the learning elements (functional and leadership) that were included?

One very interesting aspect that was included, was all MBA interns would have bi-weekly “coffee chats” with vice presidents and directors from L’Oréal’s supply chain. I learned about new ideas in product innovation and M&A in the beauty industry that I probably would not have learned otherwise. These coffee chats were a great opportunity to learn about areas of supply chain that were outside of the specific function we were working in.



Did your host company do anything unique, innovative, that you weren't expecting?

The coolest part of the internship was when the company rented out a floor on the Intrepid for all 2019 interns for a networking event. It was a great experience, and our CEO of the Americas, Frédéric Rozé even came and delivered an awesome speech.


Were you given opportunities to network within and outside of your host function?

We had many opportunities to network outside our functions like the coffee chats that I mentioned above, but also opportunities to put time on the calendars of high-level executives. For example, I was able to schedule a one hour sit down with the V.P of International Procurement for my division, which was a great learning experience.


Did you work on one specific project or were you given the freedom to accumulate more?

I primarily worked on one project and it proved to be rather complex, so I did not really have the freedom to accumulate more.


What were your key learnings?

Some key things I learned, was when coming into a new company it is very important to take the time to start talking to people. I made the mistake of trying to figure some things out on my own when I could have utilized my team at L’Oréal a bit more. I found my final 5 weeks at L’Oréal, to be much more productive than my first 5 weeks, as I was comfortable with everyone on my time and this made it really easy to go over someone’s desk and ask for advice when I needed it. Also, lunch is for networking and building relationships with people on your team and in your company, don’t try to work through your lunch like me!


What advice would you give to first-year MBAs before they go off on their own internships?

My advice would be to speak with people early and often and try not to make "the time you need help" be the first conversation you have with someone. Also, try your best to assess the culture of an organization when choosing the company you intern with. You want to make sure you could work day-in-day-out with the people in your organization. Life in Corporate America can require some long hours and often you will spend more time with people you work with than you spend with anyone else, so try to choose a place where you can look forward to seeing the people every day.


Can First-Year Candidates reach out to you if they have questions?

Yes, you can reach me on my LinkedIn page

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