Welcome to a Crazy Crazy Year, 16Ds!

Well it’s been intense. After a month away from the bubble, I’m slowly dipping my toes back in. The good news is we all survived P2! The bad news is that we’ve only got 6 months to go and reality is hurtling ever closer.

We’ve bid teary farewells to one class and now it’s time to say hello to the Class of 2016D – so hello 16Ds! It’s your turn inside the bubble… welcome to INSEAD!

Here’s what I’ve learnt from P1-P2…

Keep reminding yourself of why you’re here

Attending INSEAD is like walking into the world’s largest candy store – you have so many choices and so many different options of how you can spend your time here, and what you can do next, it’s understandable if you just get paralyzed by all the choices.

The best advice I got coming in was – don’t get caught up in your neighbour’s dreams. Everyone here is passionate and excited and you can’t help but get carried away, especially if you’re more unsure about what you want to do next or what you want to do at school – but remember why you’re here. I’ll add to this – don’t get caught up in deadlines and assignments and drama. It’s so easy to just keep doing what’s urgent – but don’t forget to also allocate your time, energy, stress and focus on what’s important to you.

Remembering your end goals of being here also helps in making decisions – I had to decide whether to chase after an opportunity, and going back and reading my b-school essays helped me pull the trigger. Talking to your friends, family, mentors and advisers also helps – last month, my career adviser gave me a nice kick in the pants when I couldn’t decide on whether to pursue a project by reminding me of what’s truly important to me.

Your key words for P1 and P2 should be “enough” and “balance”

The hardest lesson I’ve learnt this year is that wow, I’m a perfectionist, and wow, that’s such a waste of time. You will have an avalanche of demands on your time – so learn to be a good student, a good friend, a good job seeker, a good partner, a good parent most of the times.

Figure out what “enough” means to you and do just that much and not one iota more. For example, I quickly figured out in P1 – reading the textbook – it’s never going to happen. Not reading the cases – I hate going to class. As one of the six social reps organizing events for the Singy parties, I learnt I can’t please everyone, I can’t do everything and that we can only do so much with a zero budget! So embrace “enough”.

The second key word here is “balance”. Somewhere in mid-P1, people started getting tired and these four magic words came up - “there’s always another party”. Now guess what… that’s true. At INSEAD, there is always another party. So I experimented with this due to varying circumstances – I had a week where all I did was study, a week where all I did was be a mom, and a week where all I did was work on my CV. But you know what? I was absolutely miserable.

The weeks where I did a little bit of everything – one company presentation, one party, a few hours of reading – were my best weeks at INSEAD. Time is on warp speed here here – after about three actual months together, I’ve already said goodbye to classmates and dear friends (*cough* bundlers *cough*) who I may never see again. If you keep putting off those parties and dinners and lunches, you’re going to blink and hit graduation. Similarly, because of compressed deadlines, you are going to have very little gaps between classes and finals to try and catch up – so it helps to be on top of school from week one. Go to the tutorials!

You can do this any way you like

You can get totally consumed by b-school. You can treat it like a day job where you show up at 8:30 AM and leave by 9 PM with weekends off. You can go to all the weekend trips. You can go to none. You can join every single club, or zero. You can go to all the parties. You can stay at home and watch TV. You can spend the entire year in the library or never go in. Just remember to do it your way and remember what’s important to you!    

Swim, little fish, and forget about the pond

You are a little fish in a very big pond. Embrace it. Stop looking around at the size of the other fishes and their colours and how shiny their fins are, and how many other fish friends they have. Know that school is going to be different for every single person. There’s going to be a marketing genius who’s going to yawn through marketing class. There’s going to be an options trader who will dominate finance in P2. There’s going to be an accountant who will ask complex questions you don’t even want to know the answer to. There’s going to be a perfect candidate with a perfect CV. Embrace the option to fail and be “good enough”. Explore the parts of the pond you’ve never been to before even if they are deep and scary. Remember where you’re swimming to. Enjoy the swim. Little fish have fun too!