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‘Exceeded my expectations’: What it’s like studying at a top-ranked business school

Tiffany seen during class at the MIM programme. Source: INSEAD

In June, looking for a master’s programme to apply to, Tiffany Tang attended an online webinar explaining INSEAD’s new Master in Management (MIM). Curious about the school’s multi-campus structure — it’s known as “the business school for the world” — and impressed by its diverse and inclusive culture, she decided to apply. 

Today, the Taiwanese is part of its first class of 80 students. Classes can get intense, but Tang says, “I do find it helpful to study with some eclairs au chocolat from awesome bakeries in Fonty.” It’s been an experience that has exceeded the 24-year-old’s expectations thus far. Below, she shares more about her MIM programme, the INSEAD campus and how the business school has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic:

How did you find out about the MIM programme at INSEAD, and what drove you to apply?  

I realised that INSEAD has a strong culture of diversity and inclusion, those are some of the big points that drove me to apply. To add to that, students have the privilege to study in both France and Singapore, with several opportunities to visit and work in other countries.

INSEAD, the Business School for the World, has campuses in Fontainebleau and Singapore. Source: INSEAD

Tell us a bit more about what you were doing before joining the MIM programme. 

I was working as a management trainee in a Taiwanese retail bank, and was also a project planner for almost two years. The rotational programme allowed me to get exposed to projects in an array of functions. Before that, I was a student at the National Taiwan University of Arts and specialised in drama. 

What challenges do you face living in France, and how did you overcome them?

I came from a non-business background, the major challenge for me is the intensity of the classes and group work. To add to that, there seemed to be a never-ending list of pre-reading materials, which sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s how I feel!

Acquiring a wide range of business acumen within a short period of time means that we must constantly stay focused in and out of the classroom. Managing your time wisely is of utmost importance. I am still adjusting, to be honest, but I do believe it’s an inevitable process that can make me better, more adaptable, disciplined and a better team player. It’s only been a few weeks so far, so it’s still too early to say if I have overcome many challenges.   

Tiffany takes part in a group discussion with her classmates. Source: INSEAD

Describe what the environment, facilities and staff are like at INSEAD.

INSEAD really exceeded my expectations. Aside from the great facilities and fantastic education, you can expect a world-class business school. The actions that INSEAD has taken in response to COVID-19 have been fast and flexible. They’ve catered to having learning experiences online and offline.

The school is constantly navigating turbulent situations and always putting the student’s health and safety first. As an international student travelling alone to France, I am relieved to see how INSEAD is carrying out social distancing, contract tracing, and mask-wearing.

What do you enjoy most about living in France, and how does it stand out from other countries you’ve been to?

It’s such a different lifestyle, if you compare  Fontainebleau to Asia. “Slow living, yet intellectually busy,” is how I would describe my life so far. 

What I enjoy most about living in France is the opportunity to slow down, which is usually the opposite in large cities in Asia, which I’m more used to. Taipei is a fast-paced city where people never stop to smell the flowers. 

I’ve had the chance to pay more attention to my inner peace, and the time to enjoy self-discovery. As a full-time student living in a beautiful French town surrounded by forests, I have enjoyed some quality time for self-reflection, alongside a bunch of close friends I’ve made so far. 

Do you have any advice for international students looking to apply for the MIM programme at INSEAD? 

“There are all kinds of people at INSEAD,” I remember hearing this from a fellow alumni. In terms of cultural belonging, all you have to do is be yourself and show the school what makes you you. Think of it as your own Unique Selling Point, and what it is that you want to achieve through this programme.  

Another tip is to talk to the students who know the school well, only after you’ve done your own research of course, so that you can have a deeper insight of what the learning and lifestyle experience is like there. 

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