Operation Phénix 2015: Two-thirds of new hires are from Sorbonne University

Every year since 2007, Operation Phénix has been providing a pathway into corporate executive positions for recent graduates of Master’s programs in language and literature, social science, or science. Of the 17 graduates hired in 2015, 11 held diplomas from institutions in the community: nine from Paris-Sorbonne University and two from the Pierre et Marie Curie University.

Digital marketing manager for a top brand, head of publicity for a bank, data mining specialist for an insurance company, head of research for a survey company, financial auditor for a consulting firm... in France, very few young university graduates would dream of applying for this type of job, with recruiters generally targeting business and engineering schools.


Operation Phénix aims to change that. Launched in 2007 by auditing and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers France (PwC) and a handful of major companies and universities, including Paris-Sorbonne, it is based on the belief that university graduates have valuable skills that companies need (general culture, a big-picture approach, critical thinking, etc.), and that targeting them would allow recruiters to diversify their teams and boost creativity. 


Every spring, the Phénix partners offer a set number of executive positions, either temporary or permanent, to students who are currently enrolled in a Master’s program or have completed one within the past two years. To help these graduates integrate and hit the ground running, they are hired under professionalization contracts: during their first year on the job, they complete a Master 2 Corporate Professions program in a work/study arrangement, logging 357 classroom hours to study the economic environment of companies and corporate life.


Paris-Sorbonne University a pillar of the program

Paris-Sorbonne University has been part of Operation Phénix since the very beginning and remains a pillar. To date, it has provided the most candidates and new hires to the partner companies: 40% of the 200-some recent graduates hired over the past eight years (2007-2014) graduated from Paris-Sorbonne and, in 2015, the institution represented more than half of all hires. “Every year, the school’s career office works hard to promote the operation to students,” explains Florence Filliatre, coordinator of Operation Phénix at Paris-Sorbonne University. “Even more importantly, it helps them apply for jobs and prepare for interviews with recruiters.”


Paris-Sorbonne University is also responsible for confirming that student applicants from any university in France are indeed enrolled in an M2 program or have recently completed one. Finally, it is the Paris-Sorbonne University office of continuing education that delivers the Master 2 Corporate Professions to hired students.


The operation, which was initially open only to students in languages, literature, arts and social sciences, is now open to those with science degrees. Since that change, Université Pierre et Marie Curie has also been encouraging its students to participate and providing support to applicants. In 2015, the first year its graduates were eligible to participate, the university had 25 applicants and 2 hires.


Caption: Bertrand Clech - April 2015 Forum Phénix, where students met the program’s partner companies before submitting their applications.

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