6:30 p.m., August 4, 2022
They circled around on social media. The videos of these young students from AgroParisTech, Sciences Po or even the École des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) who speak at their graduation and denounce a system alongside their values have been in vogue in recent months. in France. For more and more students, the challenge is simple: we must act quickly with the “grandes écoles” which do not sufficiently take into account the sometimes political, societal or ecological urgency of the moment. And for many of them, the decision to give up the path all traced is beautiful and well taken.
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Benoît Halgan is an example of these young graduates. The 24-year-old Angevin joined Polytechnique in 2017 thanks to a certain appetite for mathematics. He who was however intended for the profession of engineer tells the JDD to have chosen a completely different path. At the end of his studies, in 2021, he will head to Savoie, not for its ski slopes… but for Saint-Pierre-de-Curtille and its abbey nestled at the foot of Mont de la Charvaz, on one of the banks of the Bourget lake. At Hautecombe Abbey, he will train in theology and work on the spiritual issues of the ecological crisis. “with a rather Christian outlook”.
“In the big schools, social diversity does not exist”
But how did this student, who was heading towards a comfortable future, end up in an abbey in the depths of Savoy? “I started my studies with a six-month internship in a community with people with disabilities and I really liked it, he explains. I wanted to find myself again in a community. » There, he develops a taste for ecological issues, and realizes that there is a gap between him and his Parisian comrades: “One of the problems I saw in Paris is that you find yourself in a bubble where everyone thinks the same thing. In the Grandes Ecoles, social diversity does not exist. The community villages make it possible to get out of this compartmentalization ».
As for his studies and the professional world, Benoît Halgan admits: “I was very quickly skeptical after the speech of the companies in which I noticed that there was a lot of greenwashing behind. I had the opportunity to meet many leaders of large companies, who explained to me that they were blocked: as long as there is no reform of the political system and as long as the only priority of these companies is to make profit, we will never have an ecological transition. »
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A real quest for meaning
At almost 23 years old, Florian Werlé joined the Paris Business School (ESCP) in 2020. Entry into the school was immediately ” offset “ with his life in Strasbourg. “You have to immediately make friends with as many people as possible to network. I thought that the race would stop after the competition, but I quickly understood that entering a big school was only the beginning of another race: the race for cronyism »explains the young man to the JDD.
In June 2021, Florian Werlé is doing an internship in the financial department of a consulting firm. A golden job. However, it was at this precise moment that the student’s academic career took a turn: “I wasn’t doing things that made me happy. I even wondered at the end of my days if I had been useful. » A real quest for meaning takes place, until the day he joins a work-study program in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) department of an IT company. “There, I feel closer to my values, even if the goal of the company remains profit. In fact, I realized that the world of finance was not for me”says the student who is now perhaps considering joining an association at the end of his studies, far from the positions in finance or marketing that his school promises him.
I wasn’t doing things that made me happy
Companies forced to adapt
Chloé Schemoul also went through ESCP. At 31, the young woman now accompanies former students in their professional reorientation and helps companies to deploy, among other things, their recruitment. In 2019, she notably created the masterclass “Become a useful talent” and has since advised more than 600 executives and young graduates.
She analyzes for the JDD this phenomenon of early reorientation and these students, whom she calls “forks” : “Reorientations are now a strong trend and are therefore no longer unpredictable or unexpected. They correspond more broadly to the new relationships with work of young people with the key words: autonomy, commitment, freedom, efficiency..
According to a report by Apec (Association for the employment of executives) published last June, the average duration of an executive recruitment, which was 9 weeks in 2020, increased to 11 weeks in 2021. For Chloé Schemoul , this recruitment problem “wave” companies and forces them to find new strategies, which are not always very convincing: “Most French companies initially looked with contempt on the first reorientation movements, but they have been forced to quickly adapt to the new desires since the reorientations have exploded, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. For the moment, the reactions of most French companies are not the right ones: giving a little teleworking without real confidence here, increasing a few salaries without a harmonized policy there cannot constitute a viable human resources strategy. »
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A phenomenon that will last
The most important thing is yet to come for the young woman: communication: “It’s a phenomenon that will last, which we must quickly grasp, why not by discussing with young people who are already in the company. »
Do students today regret their choice? To hear Benoît Halgan and Florian Werlé, if the course had to be redone, they would do it again without hesitation. “I had the chance to join a big school, now I might as well take advantage of the opportunities it can offer me to try to have a positive impact on society, for example by working on ecological transition”, assures Florian Werlé. Benoît Halgan, he says to himself ” happy “ to have been able to meet “exciting” and also recognizes that, thanks to his diploma, he will be able to “always find a job”.