There's been lots of whinging on the blogosphere lately, including from me. Certainly, it's a good thing (and one of the blogger's responsibilities) to give future students and applicants a balanced view of life as an MBA, and life at INSEAD in particular. The trouble is, it's a lot easier to complain and criticise than to express satisfaction and, as all those in "media" know, bitching excites the reader/viewer a lot more than does praise. So, here's to a little less frowning and a little more smiling.
On that note, I'd like to express my own point of view on the "10-month MBA", in response to a recent post by a fellow student. Here's my take on the "serious disadvantages" identified by my classmate. Then it's up to you, future INSEAD student, to make up your own mind:
- "Shallow courses": Sure, the furious pace leaves us less time to absorb the material. But the courses are by no means shallow. The professors do an outstanding job getting to the very core of the material, skipping the fluff, and using simulations and exercises to have us rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty right away. Also, to me the point of a generalist MBA is not to learn all the material, but to learn how to think, what frameworks to use, what questions to ask.
- "Shallow networks": This is all up to you. There are two ways of playing the network game at INSEAD. You can either meet as many people as you can, and make sure you have had some contact with anyone who may potentially be helpful to you in the future, or you can focus on the few people you really like and build strong relationships with those. It's go broad or go deep. Personally, I have chosen the latter option. One of the most enjoyable things this period has been the development of really close friendships here at INSEAD. Maybe I'm naive. Maybe it's a Fonty vs Singapore thing. Maybe it's a question of personality.
- "No time to spare career-wise": This I would tend to agree with. As I've already mentioned on these pages, it is difficult, with all the things going on at school, to really spend time thinking about what you want to do after INSEAD, researching the various options and perfecting cover letters, interview techniques, etc. I do know people who have managed to put the time in, though. As with everything here, it's all about prioritising.
- "No time to explore interests": Fair enough point if your interests are along the lines of learning Mandarin from scratch, becoming a professional rugby player, or running you business on the side. But if you want to dabble in a few things, be it sports, public speaking, travelling, or participating in a business competition like the L'Oreal game, then INSEAD is your oyster. Sure, you'll be running from one place to another and wishing you could sleep a couple extra hours, but the opportunities are there if you're willing to put in the effort.
Basically, here's my advice for those of you considering INSEAD. It's intense, crazy, and a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. But if you can learn to manage your time and your emotions, and establish your priorities, you're going to love the experience. I do.
On a totally unrelated note, check out the hilarious Ben Bernanke spoof video on Wim's blog!