Info sessions in Paris

I managed to attend all three events from my target schools even though I did not get to use any additional info in my online applications (remember I submitted them late August !).

The goal for me was to meet alumnis, gather useful insider facts for my potential interviews and of course get an overall feeling of the programs themselves. Anderson was the only campus I got the chance to visit about a year ago when I was traveling in the area.

Stanford GSB had the most attendees and we were all sitting in an amphitheater.  I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the panel of alumnis they introduced. I got the feeling that, like most prestigious engineering Grandes Ecoles in France, they don’t need to advertise and try to impress as much as other schools to have a high level of applicants no matter what.

Berkeley Haas had the best hosted event, in a very friendly yet professional atmosphere. We were gathered in a meeting room, alumnis who attended were very cheerful and we had a cocktail at the end of the presentation. Stephanie Fujii gave a very enthusiastic and upbeat presentation of the school…I really hope to interview for Haas.

UCLA Anderson presentation was more traditional, but very informative nevertheless. I could feel the attendance was a bit younger and less informed about MBA programs in general.

I finally managed to convince myself I should prepare for potential interviews even part of me is thinking “what if you don’t get any invitation ?”. November is going to be a crucial month…or not, we’ll see !

How did your family react ?

I did not want to tell anyone about my MBA plans before I took the GMAT – with  the exception of my sister, and a few close friends. After that stage, I realized that this choice would not only have great impact on my life, but also on my parents’ and in-laws’, who would not be able to see their grandchildren as much as they would want to.

I know that my parents are supportive now that I convinced them that it is a wise choice for my own family, and because they understand that this project is also a part of who I am and the life I want to lead. Yet, they are still afraid that we put too much at stake by relocating, and I don’t always feel comfortable bringing up the subject again. At least not before I get accepted somewhere.

On the opposite, we chose not to tell the real version of events to my in-laws, mostly because I don’t want my mother-in-law to hate me for it (and to blame me for everything later if something doesn’t work out right). Basically, we did tell them about our plans to relocate, but the reason we gave is that my husband would like to work in this part of the world. We did not really mention the MBA yet.

What about  you ? Did you tell your family and friends about your MBA plans ?

What was their reaction ?

Is there a real gender gap issue in B Schools ?

In my previous post, I was wondering why there were so few moms attending MBA programs, but the issue is somehow wider than that. Women are still a minority in top MBA programs, and this may lead us to think that they are unfriendly environments for the “weaker” sex. I noticed that Poets and Quants recently discussed gender inequality, and concluded on a rather optimistic note. While I haven’t attend B School –yet ! — I feel that unless adcoms are specifically biased against women, there are really some reasons to be optimistic.

I’ve always worked in male-dominated environments, and the lack of women was more due to the small size of the initial pool of candidates (few girls in scientific/technical areas) than because girls were not welcome. Even if I wanted to hire more women, it wouldn’t be possible because I simply do not receive enough female CVs.

A lot of my male colleagues are raising daughters, and do respect their spouses. They are usually very supportive of women in the workplace. Reading these “Letters from Dad” from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In community also convinced me that we are going towards the right direction.

From my experience, in a professional setting, the generational gap is much more impacting than the gender one. When someone is significantly younger than his peers, it takes a lot more efforts and results to earn credibility. I chose to focus on this challenge rather than on the war of sexes.

I hope that the gender gap issue in B School is going in the right direction. In any case, I am looking forward to contributing to its improvement 🙂

Why so few mommies ?

I can’t help wondering why there are so few mothers in MBA programs.

Yet, an MBA after marriage is far from impossible, and 30 is not the new 20, so why not go on with your career once you’ve settled, chosen the right partner and claimed your adulthood ?

The one disadvantage I may see — apart from cost and organization issues — would be the impossibility to date other potentially hot cute classmates…although CaveGirlMBA seems to think the opposite 😉

Are you enjoying the application process ?

Now that the first part of the application process is over for me, I sometimes catch myself actually missing it. There’s not much I can do now, aside from waiting for interview invitations, so here’s what I can tell you from my own experience.

Like

  • The opportunity for instrospection. As MBA reapplicant puts is very nicely, the need for real introspection is tough, but it is also a golden opportunity to get to know yourself better. During the process, I learnt a lot about my own priorities in life. I was happy to realize I had made some really wise choices for my personal life, choices that I do not regret and that help me be a better manager at work. The energy, the enthusiasm and the optimism I am able to share with my colleagues (and hopefully with my future classmates) are fueled by how I take care of myself and others outside of work.
  • The GMAT and the TOEFL. Yeah, no kidding. Preparing for the GMAT was not easy, especially because French people are not used to this kind of testing at all, where you have to switch from one question to another in two minutes, with these questions having no connection at all. Standardized tests have their pros and cons, but one cannot deny that they are fair. And if my application is to be compared with those from people from all around the world, I am relieved to know the same comparison scale is being used for everyone.
  • The holistic approach. I appreciated that the Schools tailored their applications to get to know you as much as possible, not only as a professional candidate, but also as a person. It felt nice to have the opportunity to give them a comprehensive and sincere overview of who I am. And adcoms seem to show genuine interest for all these aspects too.

Dislike

  • The trouble with international undergraduate studies – the French system in my case. I underwent extremely competitive studies which lastingly trained my brain to think and react quickly. I had these student years to thank for the way my GMAT went : after 7 years of work experience, 2 months of study (working full time, taking care of a toddler), 1 quick and dirty shot, I ended up with a 740 score. Ok, I’ll stop there because nobody likes a showoff 😉
    My academic level should be ok to follow the MBA courses. Yet, it is more complicated than that.

    [Special edit for prospective French applicants who may go through the same issues. Sorry for the length]

    I know that I am eligible to the programs I applied to (3-year Diplôme from Grande Ecoles) but I wondered how the CPGE should appear in my application. Basically, they are the equivalent of prep courses to enter Business or Engineering Schools. You do get some random transcripts from these years, however, there is NO WAY –not even under torture– I can disclose them (I don’t even physically have them anymore) . Some professors used to enjoy putting harsh and humiliating comments to push you to work harder, knowing that these will have no impact on the final competitive admission exam, and would never be used for any purpose. Luckily, since 2007/2008, the French government have realized that this kind of document could seriously harm students who may want to pursue studies abroad. This is why they introduced a certificate to testify that CPGE students have a high academic level, and have earned equivalent credits. Having entered a Grande Ecole before 2008, I unfortunately do not have such a certificate.

    I intensively googled the subject to know how fellow French applicants did before me, and I was faced with very different cases: those who had the famous certificate sent it, others who managed to get indulgent transcripts translations from their high schools sent them…and the rest just focused on the Grande Ecole transcripts. I emailed the MBA admission offices, which also gave me different answers. Some only focused on degree granting institutions, others mentioned they do not want high school transcripts. Since CPGE are basically an extension of high school (the institution you attend is actually a high school), I chose not to worry about them too much. Plus, I figured out that it would be the same as sending your GMATprep or MGMAT CAT scores, or any transcript from a GMAT prep course in addition to your GMAT official score -> not relevant and biased. Only the final result (the Grande Ecole entrance exam ranking) matters.

    I simply hope that adcoms will know about this too, and that I won’t have to go through the hassle of explaining the old-fashioned French educational system.

  • The high application fees. They better be worth it.
  • No feedback if your application is rejected. Well, at least that’s the case for the schools I applied to. I understand that they receive a huge number of applications, but a short explanation by request would be greatly appreciated.

Tagged for Liebster award

Thank you bschool admit for tagging me for the Liebster award 🙂

Unfortunately I wouldn’t know how to pick 10 bloggers that haven’t been picked before.

But since I really like her questions, here’s my shot

1. If you are a magician – what is the first trick that you would do? – Like Accio Brownies?

Make it rain confetti, followed by automatic floor cleaning

2. You got the admit to your dream school – The email just came, what would you do? Jump up and down, thank somebody, breathe or panic?

Do my little victory dance, jump around as much as my swollen belly will allow and shout to my husband ” I love you, now it’s yooouuuuuurr turn to go job hunting !”

3. You are at the peak of Mt. Everest, How would you feel?

It’s cold and I can’t breathe

4. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about money?

Holidays and handbags

5. If you weren’t afraid, what would you do?

Relocate abroad with my family and try a new adventure.
Gain new skills to have a greater impact on tomorrow’s society.
Ignore people who keep on telling me I already have the perfect life, for conformism is the enemy of progress.

6. If I give you a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Pay for business school, and take those two years to think about how to spend and invest the remaining amount wisely.

7. Imagine, the whole application season is over. All the hard work has paid off, where would you head off -(holiday destination)?

When the application season is over, I will probably be taking care of my newborn.
So no traveling for me this time around, except for a thalassatherapy maybe…

8. If you were a brand, what would be your tag line?

“import issues, export enthusiasm”

9. Brownie or cookie?

Both, but with a cup of tea (Mariage frères, or Pierre Hermé preferably)

10. If you had a chance to go back 16 year old self, what would you have told him/her?

Life will keep on getting better every year