Friday, January 8, 2016

Interview with Current HEC MBA Student

I'm pleased to offer this interview with a current student at the HEC MBA program in France.

1. After you were admitted, looking back on the way you prepared for the MBA in the spring and summer, is there anything you would change? Anything you would have done more of or less of?

One of my Japanese classmates formed a group on Facebook, so we exchanged information there.
Before coming to France, I spent most of my time to complete administrative processes.

1) applying for France VISA

This was very time-consuming. I think that it took about a month to complete the whole process. At first, I had to submit documents online for “Campus France” (it is like pre-submission for France VISA) and had an interview with Campus France officials at the French Embassy.  After receiving the Campus France number, I made an appointment to submit documents for France VISA.

2) any processes needed at the municipal office
3) health insurance
4) health check and vaccination

This was required by the school.  Especially, you need to confirm which vaccination is required by the school and the country you are going to.

5) attending MBA receptions of consulting firms and job fairs held by AXIOM etc.

2. What's a typical day in the life of an MBA student in your program?

Here is an example of my schedule in Term 1:
Monday: 9:00-11:00 group work, 13:00-16:10 Micro Economy, 18:00-19:30 French.

Tuesday: 8:00-9:30 Statistics, 9:40-11:10 Financial Accounting, 13:00-16:10 Marketing.
Tuesday evening is company presentation day, so sometimes I attended company presentations after class.

Wednesday: 13:00-16:10 Financial Market, 18:00-19:30 French.

Thursday: 8:00-9:30 Statistics, 9:40-11:10 Financial Accounting, 12:30-17:30 group work.
Thursday night is party night.  Every Thursday, there’s party at the bar in our dorm.

Friday: Career Center day.  If I have a session to attend, Friday is filled up; otherwise, this day is free.

Sat, Sun: Basically off.  Sometimes, group work.

* Many students go out on the weekends. I usually study during the remainder of time not counted on the schedule above.

3. Can you write a bit about a course that you would recommend future students take?

I am still in the core phase, so my course knowledge is limited.  However, among core 1 courses, I would recommend “Financial Market” by Prof. Loanid Rosu.  He used to teach in Chicago Booth and has 2 degrees from MIT.  He is an incredible teacher. His course is not about finance but instead academic finance, and it’s demanding even for financial background students. But the professor’s character activates class and many students enjoyed and loved this course.

4. Have you had the time to get involved in any extra-curricular activities? If so, what ones and what are you doing in them?

I’ve joined the “Net Impact” club.  The club aims at driving social and environmental change.  The club held “The Climate is our Business” conference on campus this October, associated with COP21.  I was in charge of logistics.
Otherwise, I was not so involved in any particular activities in term 1.

5. What have your experiences been like in learning/project teams? 

My challenge in working teams was how I can contribute to the team.
Some team members have useful background such as accounting and finance, so they can contribute to write-ups for each subject.  When they take control, it can be hard for me to get my opinion into the conversation.  I struggled with these challenges, however, through these experiences, I could see myself objectively and found out that I could give a bird’s-eye view and my opinions and make schedule for assignments.  As a result, the group work has made me reconsider my strengths and weaknesses. 

6. Can you share your plans for an upcoming internship period?

I will intern at two companies. 

7. Looking back, what has been most surprising to you about your MBA life, compared to your original expectations before you enrolled?

1) I had more time than I had expected before.  The reason is that we were required less readings than at U.S. schools.  This has allowed me to prepare more for job hunting.

I think this is an important aspect to consider when deciding which business school you want to attend.  I did not even think about it before starting the MBA.  Some schools require its students an overwhelming workload.  Of course, it makes the students grow but does not allow them to prepare for job hunting, one of the most important things for MBA students.

2) Classmates are so collaborative.  Even though someone might not contribute to a team, the rest of the members do not attack that person and instead try to help him/her.  In addition, no teams had any confrontation this semester.

Thanks for your time!

John Couke