Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Economy & Other stuff

I had the financial crisis explained to me real nice in my P3 Macro-economics course. The only reaction I had to it was, WTF! I understand that things look real simple in retrospect, but the sheer volume of greed that realtors and bankers engaged in just shocked me. I seriously began to question some of the principles of the capitalistic system we live in. I started reading some Marx just to get some hope that there may be alternate ideologies that are rooted in something more substantial.

Am I saying that an MBA is a waste? I am not sure. However, I feel that there are definitely some lessons towards learning how to make tradeoffs between pure financial gain and long term sustenance.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rental Refund (a.k.a. CAF)

If you're renting in Fonty and are not a EU resident, then you're entitled to get a refund of the property tax paid by your landlord if your income is really low. If you're Indian, Chinese or one of the others from developing countries, then you're qualify for this. Here's how you get the refund

1. Visit: It's all in French, so you'll need #2 onwards..
2. Select on the left pane, "Etudiants'
3. Then on the same pane, Select "Aide Au Logement" Faire une demande
4. Scroll down all the way. Click Pursuivre
5. Fill up the form. Use bablefish or translator to make sense of the form. It's not too complicated. One note is to keep your salary equivalents less than 20,000 Euros
6. Print the resultant form, sign it yourself and ask your landlord to fill out a fields.. Landlord if french, should know what to fill out.

If you're in a fancy place paying 1000 - 1200, then you can get refunds up to 300 euros. The only catch is that you can only apply after you get Carte De Sejour. but nothing stops you from starting the paperwork upfront.

Reversal of Fortune

P2 results came out. Serendipitously, I squeezed into the Dean's List. What was more exciting was that, 4 out of 6 people in my study group made it as well. And the other 2 just barely missed. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I was not expecting this and feel somewhat excited.

Now back to reading...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

P2: Survival Tips

P2 is probably the most intense term at INSEAD. Just way too much going on, somehow. This is probably because of the number of group assignment. It just felt like I was with my group all the friggin time.. Once again from an engineer's perspective

Key Survival Lessons
  1. Don't skip Corporate Finance reading until the very end. You get screwed.
  2. Participate in club activity. For example, the consulting club organized the AT Kearney Strategy competition and participating in it was a lot of fun. Great learning! Pick one club and one event to participate in.
  3. Take the results in good spirit. There are clever people at INSEAD and many will do better than you.

P1: Survival Tips

I was just talking to a new P1 who was just asking me what the P1 landscape looked like. For me (a computer scientist with 5 years work experience), here were the main P1 revelations

Keys to Success
  1. Building a good working and personal relationship with the group. This saves a lot of time over P1 and P2. The way I see it, it's okay to burn some time initially working on building a good friendly relationship and tap the benefits of that at later stages. Successful groups had three main attributes - trust (that one of your team mates is capable of doing an assignment as good as you), patience (its okay if we bomb that one assignment, just move on) and a little unstructured (Let the free-rider in your team free-ride, he/she is sacrificing his/her own reputation and that's all).
  2. Focus on accounting, everything else is a piece of cake. Learning curve is steep. A little pre-reading would've been nice.
  3. Don't ignore LPG. Take detailed notes during the term. It can really boost your overall grade later.
  4. Decide if you want to be on the Dean's List or not. Sooner the better. Get it out of your system as soon as you can.
  5. Attend atleast 1 party a week (Depends on #4)

Dean's List

P1-P2 done. I will not be making it to the Dean's List (Top 10% of the class) despite an above average performance. I feel pretty relieved as I can now start seriously focusing on finding a job. A brief note on the importance of being on Dean's List

  • If you don't have a CV that stands out, this helps.
  • Auto-shortlisting by consulting companies
  • Some bragging rights
  • Really push the depth of your learning
  • You need to be clever or hardworking or both
  • Might distract you from the pragmatic needs of job hunting..
I would've liked to be on the list as I don't do too good on interviews, but that's that..

INSEAD to Paris

P3 just started and I still can't seem to figure out how to get from INSEAD to Paris without spending countless minutes waiting in bus stops and trains. So today, I finally got organized. I don't have a fancy phone, so I had to go with a low-tech organization strategy. The goal was to make sure that I got from INSEAD to Paris in the most economic way without having to wait much time

Step 0: Buy a mobilis pass in advance. A mobilis pass costs 16.40 Euros and it allows you unlimited travel by bus, train in the Ile-de-France region (includes Paris, Fonty but not the airports). So if you buy a pass in advance, you can ride the bus free while heading to Avon Gare (a whopping 1.60 Euro saving)

Step 1: Get a bus schedule from the Fontainebleau tourism office right next to the chateau: Print this out and post it on your door at home. The really cool thing about this schedule is it lines up the bus timings along with the train.

Step 2: Ride the bus. Get off at Avon Gare. Buy a mobilis for another day. Very important step that enables step 0. Pick up the small map of the Paris Metro area. You can do a lot of graph theory magic, figuring out how best to get back to Gare De Lyon. I personally, like to take exactly 3 trains from whereever I am...Just for Fun.

Step 3: Take the train. Make it to Paris happily.

That's pretty much it. Now that I write it all down, I wonder why the hell I was so lazy.