It is June again, and I have just got into the summer break. Six months (60%) of the program is over, and in another six months, I will be moving away from my student life, on to a different phase of life. When you are in a long and busy hike, a stop mid-way offers a not to miss opportunity, to not only look ahead to your end goal, but also look back at the journey you undertook. To me, June is that juncture of a “not to miss” reflection.
Last year same time in June, I was busy preparing for my GMAT and collecting details required for my INSEAD application. It feels something I did a lifetime away and not a year back. The year since has been action-filled and full of fresh memories and experiences. I had spent a decade away from academics and switching back was not an easy decision. It was intimidating initially to be in a crowd of very confident and outspoken cohorts. Surrounded by so many bright and smart people who spent many months preparing their application and essays, I have asked myself many times how did I get selected to be one of the 19D class. I applied in Round four in the last few hours of the deadline, and was relatively less-young compared to rest of my cohort. I didn't even attempt an essay formula which is professed in many of the MBA admission blogs.
I found the answer during P1. P1 is really a period of self-discovery with many introduction sessions, and a bunch of repeated questions in workshops and classrooms. They act as a reinforcement of your self-awareness and objectives from the MBA.
What I noticed in due course is how much I had underestimated the value of originality and authenticity.
The reason I was selected and received good scores on my reflection papers in the courses was down to authenticity; my MBA essays were not hugely imaginative about an aspiring future. It was a genuine write up on who I am, what I want to be and what successes and failures made up my career.
This is what the many MBA student forums don't tell you enough about, and INSEAD MBA blogs give you many hints of. It is more important for your essays to be original and reflect your true-self rather than be a summary of someone else’s dream that once was successful in making its way to an admission. When I looked back, I realised the only blogs I had read before my admissions were INSEAD student blogs and not the general MBA student groups.
Through these six months, I have made many new friends in my cohort. While many of us looked similar in terms of our international footprint, closer conversations led us to discover many true stories – which made each of us a unique selection for the 19D class. I have mentioned this before in a Q&A with the MBA aspirants and I would repeat it; if I were to share any insights from my own experience as many of you brace for your application – it would be to uphold your authenticity. Trust me, it pays off. As I head towards September, I look forward to the 20Js taking the place of fresh faces on campus, and heading towards a self-discovery phase.