Apr 26, 2008

What we need now is a Statistician

Those of you who have had the privilege of sitting in P1 UDJ will recognize the post title from that cinematic wonder of wonders... "The Statistician". Ah, memory lane. Or, more appropriately given the break-neck speed of everything that is INSEAD, memory 6-lane highway.

Now that P4 is over, and we're on our last break before the final stretch, it has come time for reminiscence, reflection and taking stock. So here are a few stats from my year so far at INSEAD.

Total number of courses taken (including upcoming P5): 25

Approximate number of hours spent in classroom: 352

Total number of companies applied to/contacted for jobs: close to 20

Total number of companies that agreed to interview me (including upcoming): 6

Offers received so far: 1 (phew!)

Places travelled to for fun with other INSEAD-ers (including already-scheduled upcoming trips): Champagne, Marrakech, Italy, Switzerland, Barcelona (twice), Amsterdam, Marseille

Places travelled to for much less fun interviews (including upcoming): Cardiff, Paris (I'm in Fontainebleau, Paris counts), Amsterdam, Baden (in the middle of nowhere in Switzerland)

Outfits worn to INSEAD parties: toga, schoolgirl, Tarantino movie character, "greed", favourite movie character, hooker, eighties, others that I have chosen to forget...

Number of cigarettes smoked: too many

Units of alcohol ingested: way too many

Number of times I've complained about INSEAD when really I was having a blast and should have counted my lucky stars: no comment.

So now there's two months to go. Two months with a few more interviews, a very light class load (in theory!), a very close friend's wedding, lots of weekend trips and many, many parties. Before we all end up crying on each others' shoulders, making plans for the next reunion, swearing eternal devotion and saying with a sob that yes, this was the best year of our lives.

But enough of this maudlin sentimentality, there's still a whole P to gear up for and first up, a week's worth of interviews and celebrating royalty in Amsterdam!

Apr 15, 2008

Deep Breath...

It's easy to get overwhelmed in all this madness. First, there are the scheduling issues, with interviews back to back and classes geting squeezed in somewhere in the middle, if at all. Then there's the even greater challenge of keeping focused on what you want and maintaining some sort of self-esteem and confidence when faced with mounting rejection and disparaging looks from people who believe the inability to calculate 23% of 2472 off the top of the head in less than 20 seconds amounts to some kind of mental disability.

Given all that, and to help you overcome the demise of DTLF's musical interludes, here are some lyrics from my favourite, irreverant, muppet-inspired musical: Avenue Q.

Why does everything have to be so hard?
- Maybe you'll never find your purpose. Lots of people don't.
But then, I don't know why I'm even alive!
- Well, who does, really?

Everyone's a little bit unsatisfied
Everyone goes 'round a little empty inside
Take a breath, look around
Swallow your pride
For now...

Nothing lasts, life goes on, full of surprises
You'll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes
You're going to have to make
A few compromises
For now...

But only for now! (For now)
Only for now! (For now)

For now we're healthy
For now we're employed
For now we're happy
If not overjoyed
And we'll accept the things
We cannot avoid
For now...

But only for now! (For now)
Only for now! (For now)

Only for now!
For now there's life
Only for now!
For now there's love
Only for now!
For now there's work
For now there's happiness
But only for now!
For now discomfort
Only for now!
For now there's friendship!
Only for now! (For now)

Only for now
Is only for now
Your hair!
Is only for now
George Bush!
Is only for now

Don't stress,
Let life roll off your backs
Except for death and paying taxes
Everything in life
Is only for now

Each time you smile (Only for now)
It'll only last a while (Only for now)
Life may be scary (Only for now)
But it's only temporary

ba-dum, ba-dum...

Everything in life is only for now...

- Avenue Q

Apr 12, 2008

Picture Time

I realize it's been a while since I've provided photographic evidence (embarrassing or otherwise) of my time here at INSEAD, so I have come online today determined to right that wrong. Also, I haven't been feeling verbally prolific and it's about time for another post so... this is my lazy response to public demand.

First up, the lovely home I've made for myself in P4:

And the view from my window when I woke up on Monday and realized it had snowed properly for the first time this year. In April.

And then there are the photos from Barcelona, with the outrageous-and-still-undefeated INSEAD boys and girls rugby teams... spicing things up on the pitch and in Barcelona's finest culinary establishments.

In other news, recruitment season carries on, painfully for most of us. The eager anticipation has given way to interview and ding fatigue, and it is now with sad, resigned faces that we go off to meet our executioners - uh, I mean interviewers.

In answer to a question posted on these pages last week, no, the recruitment situation is not THAT bad. But it's not that good, either. Given the events of these past few months, banks are essentially not hiring, which means a lot of dashed hopes and increased competition for the remaining jobs. Consulting firms are out in force, but the offers have been few and far between so far. That being said, the "top 3" are still interviewing so we'll see what happens there.

In terms of industry jobs (i.e. everything that's not banking or consulting), we're not quite sure what the situation is. The big multinationals come present on campus, but in a few cases they seem to have very much limited their hiring (internships only, certain geographical areas only) as compared to previous years. The process is more opaque in this area than for consulting, so really it's hard to say whether finding a job in industry has become more difficult. So we keep our fingers crossed.

In my own little personal journey, I finally experienced the pain and suffering that is the consulting interview. Needless to say, it did not go well, which tends to confirm my impression that other avenues are probably better suited to me. The silver lining, however, is that I finally feel like I'm "part of the gang", having now also been subjected to mindless calculation exercises and out-of-left-field questions about industries I know nothing about, coupled with the "oh-my-gosh-have-you-ever-even-practiced-case-interviews" look of disbelief from the hardened interviewer (the answer to that is yes, by the way) and the ensuing feeling of confusion and despair when you walk out of a gruelling 1.5 hr session feeling like you did in 2nd grade when the teacher called on you and you didn't know the answer and everyone laughed.

Fortunately, there are friends, crepes, and plenty of bottles of cider to go around and make you feel better afterwards. And then there's always next week, with more interviews (including at least one that will not involve calculating percentages while standing on your head and solving a rubix cube).

Apr 2, 2008

Fling a Ding Ding

Ah, the highs and lows of the INSEAD life...

Last weekend about 200 of us found ourselves in Barcelona for the annual "Spring Fling", an MBA sports tournament organised by IESE. It was interesting comparing the INSEAD contingent to the other schools; sure, I'm biased, but I did get the definite impression that we were a) more diverse and b) more relaxed (many of us had never played our chosen sport before, but more than made up for it in team spirit and a sense of fun). We were also much more ready to party the night away (though we paid for it on the trip home!) In fact, the whole weekend felt very much like a gigantic INSEAD party that the other schools had the privilege to attend - and most of them didn't. Perhaps we're a little intimidating. All in all, a very good weekend was had by everyone involved, despite a few (mostly rugby-related) injuries.

And then we get back to P4. The age of dings. I won't explain here what a ding is, I think every other blogger has already done so. Needless to say it has resulted in more than a few long faces around campus as company after company reject INSEAD students who, until now, had been told that they were fabulous and the elite of global business community. I was lucky enough to get a ding to call my own yesterday, having missed out on the fun until now due to my not having actually applied to anything (my network-oriented job search is not so much ding-based as you'll-just-never-hear-from-us-again-based). Apparently, "the criteria that [Ding & Co] have put forward do not really correspond to [my] competencies". Ouch.

My friends and fellow comrades-in-arms, I leave you with these words by Arthur Conan Doyle:

"When such men, who are beyond hope and fear, begin in their dim minds to see the source of their woes, it may be an evil time for those who have wronged them. The weak man becomes strong when he has nothing, for then only can he feel the wild, mad thrill of despair."