Study in Europe: life as a student at HEC Paris
Amrit Mann, a BITS Pilani engineer, now an HEC Paris student reveals the most sought after answers by Indian applicants intending to Study at Top business schools in Europe. Amrit has been an absolute pleasure to work with and to interact with. GyanOne caught up with him, whIle he is in the last leg of his Master’s at HEC Paris. He spoke about his experience of study in Europe, and how the HEC experience has helped him grow.
GyanOne: What is the most exciting aspect of being an Indian student at HEC? Would you recommend that other Indians study in Europe?
Amrit: The most exciting part for me is, in a way, representing your country on a big stage. A B-school has a lot going on and if you are good at something, it shows and you are recognised for it. Another interesting aspect is that your opinions on various topics (business or cultural) are constantly challenged and that expands your horizon. My experience has been excellent, and I would highly recommend that other Indians and even other nationalities study in Europe, and also work here later.
GyanOne: What would you suggest Indian students aiming to settle in Europe be cautious about, related to the below mentioned aspects.
Amrit: In my opinion, there is a major issue as we tend to be savings-oriented. There is a struggle with lower pay in internships but to be honest, the kind of work done compensates for the low pay. The experience will hold a lot of value 5 years post graduation (even if you settle in India/Europe).
Language / culture
Amrit: I think this aspect is very important yet neglected. I must say that not just in france and germany, but even other countries have their own local languages and cultures that one would benefit from knowing. If one plans to settle there, it is pretty obvious, one needs to be motivated to learn their languages and ways of life.
Amrit: I don’t have much insights to share here. But, from what I know, at least in France, one needs to work here for at least 4-5 years before they can apply for a permanent residence. Till then, a company needs to sponsor you. These policies are specific to certain jurisdictions.
GyanOne: Do you intend to make a career switch post your Masters? If yes, which industry do you intend to target?
Amrit: I do. I intend to start in financial services and switch from consulting. Broadly seeking, I would like to work in sell side financial advisory services.
GyanOne: How are the job opportunities for Indians after they study in Europe ?
Amrit: The top 4 B-schools here (INSEAD, HEC, ESSEC, ESCP) enjoy a good reputation. I think consulting is very hard to break in (due to language barriers). It is still very much possible to get good positions in finance/marketing.
It isn’t spoon-fed unlike IIMs which helps as it forcefully makes you reach you and expand your network. The industry is structured in a way that you first start as an intern in most cases (0-2 yr work ex) or cases of career switchers. It is very costly for firms to offer a full time contract, which is why the grunt work is mostly done by cheap interns.
GyanOne: How do you think studying abroad is different than studying in India?
Amrit: I can go on and on. I see a couple of differences here:
Exposure – I think it matters a lot when the discussions in classrooms are more international in nature. I noticed indian bschools are more India and Asia centric. This helps if you want to work in there but not if you are looking for global learning.
Grading – Indians and Chinese are very competitive by nature due to their schooling and college entrance exams. I noticed that in a diverse program, that may help to an extent but not in those courses where collaboration plays a key role.
I may be a scholar but if I dont gel well with the team, good luck with getting a good grade. Grades matter less to recruiters abroad as long as you go to a good bschool and do a relevant course.
GyanOne: How do you think you have grown both personally and professionally, since your journey at HEC started?
Amrit: Personally, I am more confident in decision making and reaching out to people in my network, whenever needed. My interactions have become more deepening and engaging which helps me connect well with others. I have become more open-minded and can look at an issue from multiple angles.
Professionally, I have gained very important hard and soft skills. I am not an expert but I do understand business issues more deeply and can offer my opinions on the same. One thing I learnt is to be bold and challenge the status quo, if are confident of creating value.
GyanOne: How is the Strategic Management course at HEC different from the flagship management courses offered at HEC?
Amrit: Its a like a mini-MBA with a more generalised approach to management. The courses are more case study oriented compared to other programs. The gap year is not there which can be boon or curse depending on how you look at the strength of your profile. Professors and peer quality are on par with others.
GyanOne: Any other advice or points that you want Indian applicants to focus on while applying to HEC?
Amrit: I would suggest, based on my previous remarks, to be absolutely certain what they are getting into. This is an unconventional path taken by indians and unless confident, may back fire.
There is a financial aspect to the decision making (tuition fees vs first pay) which must not be overlooked.