Monday, March 17, 2008

INSEAD deposit

Put down the deposit for INSEAD. Thanks to a surging Euro and a plunging dollar, my deposit felt very expensive.

I'd like to recover the ISB deposit, but I don't see any good reason that I can offer the ISB AdCom. I actually feel quite lousy about doing this but if there's someone on the ISB WaitList who benefits from this, then that's great.

I think I'll gracefully withdraw from ISB and forfeit my deposit! Sucks!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Application Veil

I'm beginning to think that the entire application process comes down to the following question:

"How well can INSEAD market you to the companies that hire from them?"

The reason this question is important is that INSEAD is a business whose customers are companies (pay for research, collaborate with professors on projects, pay for recruiting) and students (pay tuitition). Now, how can you have a marketable application/profile/resume

  • Big Brands on resume - Worked at IBM, Intel, Mckinsey, Microsoft, Google, Nike, Disney etc. If you've worked for them before then you've got something going on.
  • Big Brands in education - Degree from Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, IIT, etc. etc.
  • Big numbers - 4.0 GPA, Summa cum laude, distinctions, 760+ GMAT (I have 720 and I think that's a commodity score)
  • Personality & Communication - That's what the interviews are for. Can the school put you in front of these companies and get you hired by them?

And the essay's and such are fine - you need to show them you're connected and influential. I think someone who is strong in the above criteria has to work much less harder to get an admit anywhere..

Ofcourse, I could be completely wrong since all this is pure speculation...

Extracurriculars & INSEAD

I've always felt a little intimidated by the extracurricular activities of others. How the hell do folks pack so much stuff in 25 years of their lives?

  • President of fraternity
  • Runs a large open source project
  • Olympic athlete
  • Raised $500, 000 for some charity
  • etc. etc.

I don't have anything great like this going on but I still got an admit from INSEAD. The truth is that my only real passions outside of work are travelling and heading to the gym. I have only one great achievement in my activities - I lost a crap load of weight since I started taking a keen interest in working out. And that's what I wrote....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Essay Tips for INSEAD Jan 2009 intake

I just finished proof reading an essay for a friend of mine who is applying to January 2009 intake. I found his essay really good but lacked a few simple aspects that I felt helped my app get accepted

1. As the Stanford Dean says, "Doing simple things incredibly well" is what's important. You don't have to overcome abject poverty or come up with that life altering idea. If you've done something simple such as, "Organized a small function for your apartment community", "organized your brother's wedding", "tutored your cousin's on a regular basis", then these are all quotable stories. The nice thing about them is that the reader can relate to it and more importantly its believable.

2. You don't have the marketing skills (and this is for my fellow engineers), but you must make reading fun and exciting. It's like that GEICO commercial where the professional actor does the voice-over for regular folk such as us. Some tips for making your essays catchy

  • Stay away from flashy/domain specific jargon.
  • Show that you're a team-player/socialite/well networked person. B-schools love that kinda stuff. Ofcourse don't lie if you don't know anyone..
  • Write well. This is obvious but sound professional. It might be wortwhile getting someone to review your essay if you lack the skillz.

3. Consistency. Make sure your story is consistent across Essays, Reccos & Interviews. I cannot emphasize this more. You must have a conversation with your Recommenders and tell them what characteristics you expect of a recommendation. Be explicit about it.. For realz!

And finally, If you attend a information session, try to network with the professor (if they have one doing a sample class) and ask him/her if he/she would be willing to review your essays. You'll be surprised at how cool & willing INSEAD professors are.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fonty or SGP?

I've been thinking about which campus to start at. It was a really hard decision, but I've decided to stick with starting at Fonty. I had some personal constraints that required me to be in Asia as much as possible, but having done some research, I think I'll start with Fonty and evaluate the situation as it unfolds. My reasons

1. I have enough Asia experience. Really don't need it.
2. Fonty is more expensive, but I can live in a dump, cut my expenses, whatever's needed
3. Seems like the French Village + Chateau Parties + Crappy Weather defines the INSEAD experience... so why miss that?
4. P4 must be spent in Fonty. Recruiting is much stronger on the Fonty campus (I have a friend who does recruiting from a big consulting company and mentioned this as key differentiator).
5. Being of Asian origin, I can expand my network and career choices into Europe. I should be secure with Asian recruiting (so I think atleast).
6. If I'm wrong I can always switch to the SGP campus. Switching to SGP in P3 is supposedly hard. Taking a chance here - hopefully it will pay off.
7. If one wants to be in the European job-market than Fonty experience is must. I want to work in Asia but unlike others I don't really need the SGP stint to establish my Asia prescense.

I'm sure anyone who reads this needs to evaluate their own priorities against ground reality. The cons of Fonty are
1. More expensive than SGP. (living costs atleast)
2. Public commute supposely sucks
3. Crappy weather in P3/mid-P4.
4. Not enough exotic vacationing (e.g. Thailand, Malaysia and all those other warm places).

Would love to hear other readers analysis.