And 10 Years Later, Not Too Young Anymore

Himanshi Vij

Flashback, 13 June 2008, Singapore

I timidly entered the INSEAD Singapore campus at the Ayer Rajah Avenue and attended a class discussion by Prof. Horacio Falcao, as a part of the MBA In-House Event. It was my first experience of attending a class at a business school, and more significantly, my introduction to INSEAD.

The only comment I remember hearing multiple times that evening was, I was too young to be there, and I should come back in a couple of years. An INSEAD applicant is expected to have a strong academic background, which I had, but there were many other things, which I didn’t have, such as international experiences, exemplary displays of leadership, and significant employment history. The constructive feedback I received that night from alumni, faculty, and students, in the true INSEAD manner, remained indelibly etched in my mind.  

Today, 23 August 2018, France

Meanwhile, life happened.

For the next decade, I studied, worked and lived around Asia, Europe, and North America and discovered aspects of myself that I didn’t know existed. Subconsciously, the INSEAD dream lingered on.

I visited the Fontainebleau and Singapore campus in the past years, attending INSEAD events whenever I had the opportunity. No one told me anymore that I was too young to attend INSEAD.

In 2016, I worked closely with a client, an INSEAD alumnus. During one of our lunches, when I asked her about the school, she told me how she could completely picture me studying there. That was my first big trigger. My second and final trigger came when I married my long-time boyfriend. A few months after we got married, he asked me what was stopping me from pursuing my INSEAD dream. In our conversations that followed, I signed up for GMAT and started drafting my essays. My biggest realisation was how much I had underestimated the tremendous amount of reflection and effort required to write the essays. For the video interviews and the alumni interviews, I had a simple principle: being myself. It probably helped. And that’s why I am now writing my first post, geared up to start the much-awaited P1 at INSEAD, as a part of the 19J.

The Acceptance package

The three lessons I learned over the past years to bring my INSEAD dream to life:

  • INSEAD is usually not an idea that forms itself in one night: In my case, it took me a full decade between my first visit to INSEAD and coming to campus as a student. In these years, I kept in touch with the school participating regularly in events and connecting with alumni, in order to solidify my conviction, both in terms of time and money. When the acceptance phone call came in, I didn't think twice about my answer.
  • The alumni influence played a big role in my decision: Interacting with INSEAD alumni over the years, attending networking sessions or campus events, each time the only feeling I got was: I want to be like them. I want to be a part of their community. They had a collective reputation for being smart, cool and humble, and I really like those adjectives to define people.
  • Take the time to know yourself: As clichéd as it may sound, it was important to me to take these past years to identify my own strengths and weaknesses, know what excites me and what doesn’t, and have a sense of what I want in life.

When I applied to INSEAD, it was either INSEAD or nothing.

The ‘nothing’ had its own definition and plan, but it meant, for me, that in terms of investing time, money and emotions into a business school, it was only INSEAD.