Written on 17 June 2020.
Baptiste Sesmat, 23, is in the final year of the EDHEC Master in Management and is currently finishing an MSc in Corporate Finance & Banking.
How have you organised since the crisis started?
When confinement was announced, I left my apartment in Nice and went back to stay with my parents near Nancy. I get up early to keep a routine and generally start my day by keeping up to date with the news. I then work on my Master project. The deadline is approaching: we have to hand in our work at the end of the month! In the afternoon, if we don’t have any classes scheduled, I work on group projects. And then I finish the day with some relaxation time or sport. I’m lucky to be living in the country at the moment.
How do you handle group work at distance?
The groups are very different, so we operate on a case-by-case basis. Despite everything, I find it’s harder to retain overall coherency when you can’t meet to discuss progress with projects. The way we communicate – e-mail, video-conferences, etc. – differs according to the group, especially as we have to deal with time differences if certain students are abroad.
What is your experience of online learning?
The first part of the semester is devoted more to electives. For one of them, we took part in a business game which was unfortunately scheduled for two weeks before confinement. I also chose an elective in computer programming, a speciality for which online classes do not cause any problems! But I’ve also got some more classical classes. I’ve actually had to follow a live session when there were over 200 students connected to the online platform. Things are going pretty well. A chat system was set up, so as to avoid interruptions in class. From my point of view, the switch to online has not entailed any great changes. But it does require greater concentration, particularly since I feel I’m in a holiday environment again with my family. We’re free and our own bosses, and more easily tempted by other activities! And with the academic year not completely finished, you have to keep a mindset that lends itself to work. The objective is to separate your time well between work and relaxation.
What are your professional plans?
I was lucky to receive an offer back in January for a final internship in M&A with Morgan Stanley in London. It’s due to start in mid-September and last four months. I’m reassured to have secured this opportunity before the crisis started, but I hope the measures adopted after the crisis don’t disrupt the internship and my recruitment prospects afterwards. It’s not easy to find internships and permanent contracts at the moment, as companies are very short on visibility. Many of them have frozen their recruitment processes for the time being.
Is the crisis going to have an impact on society? Do you think there’s going to be a before and an after?
That’s a complex question. We hear a lot about how things are not going to be the same as before. Of course, reviews will be conducted to analyse whether governments managed the crisis well (or poorly). Decisions will inevitably be taken and companies will probably have to adopt new working methods. I’m particularly thinking of the democratisation of teleworking, which has now come into widespread use in companies in response to the difficulties of confinement. But in the end, I’m not sure the crisis will have such a big impact on the way our society operates. There’s often a gap between what’s said during a crisis – the aim being to reassure – and the measures effectively adopted afterwards.