Got my first job application ding from my #1 favourite company of many zeros. I was not too surprised, and in a way I feel almost relieved. During the phone interview last Friday, I had the impression that they wanted more senior. Even if I did have the potential to lead this new team (which I still believe I do), I sensed they wanted someone with lobbyist experience, which I do not have. I nearly wanted to reply, “Here in Singapore you don’t exactly do that sort of thing, and if you asked any other local candidates they’d say the same thing too” but thought that would sound a bit rude.
As for the job itself, I had lots of ideas on forming a strategy, and did research on each country in the portfolio. However I wasn’t asked about my plans at all. The good thing about being in such a diverse school, however, is that you will find classmates from the country/industry you’re targetting. Plus, everyone was very supportive of my interview. I must thank G, H, N and Z for advice on their countries.
I was also curious as to how the position has been advertised since at least Nov 2007 and has yet to be filled. Obviously there were very particular needs and I am not sure if all the checkboxes can be ticked, because it will be very hard to find someone with all the required experience and qualifications in this region. Not that it’s impossible; just very difficult. I would not be surprised if this position is still unfilled a few months down the road. But I understand the company’s need to find the right boss who will then form a team. Having the right manager/leader is so important.
In response to their questions on my rank/experience, I explained that despite being relatively junior, my input was consistently sought at much bigger agencies and that was an achievement. However I respect their decision and will remain on their file for other positions, so it’s not the end of the world. I have many more months to go. Most classmates were surprised that I was being called for interviews so early.
As for school - while I understand P2 topics better, that isn’t going to be enough. I need lots more practice and re-iteration to improve my scores. So as much as I’d like to enjoy myself I have to cut down on events. INSEAD Cabaret beckons but … most likely I will not even show up. There’s the INSEAD Olympics at Sentosa which I will skip in favour of French lessons over Saturday and Sunday, as well as the Lexus Cup golf tournament which I shall tryyyy to attend briefly.
I’ve had second thoughts on whether I made the right choice - whether rushing through 10 months of business studies just to re-enter the workforce quickly was the best idea. If my priority was to learn and enjoy new friendships, then I could’ve given myself a longer time. Quite often we classmates talk about how we’d love to do more things but there’s just not enough time. I told an academic rep that if you graded me on how much I actually learnt, my score would be infinite. From having zero knowledge on Finance, Accounting etc to having some knowledge which I can apply to my work and personal life, means I have achieved my personal goals.
Also, I wonder if I’d have chosen INSEAD if I knew what I was going through now. In case you’re still contemplating which business schools to go to, let me elaborate on the grading system. Here, you aren’t graded by absolute scores but on how the rest of the cohort did. You can get a good percentage, but if the majority of your cohort has better grades, you will fall below the average and this will affect your GPA. You thus need to be even better in other subjects to make up for this. On the other extreme, if you kick ass, you may get a GPA of 4+ or even 5+ which sounds crazy, as we are used to having a maximum of 4 only. As you can imagine this also means that some of us have grades of less than 2 or 1, because the system just makes grades more extreme.
To be fair, those who already have strong groundings in certain subjects can get exempted, but these classmates were told they needed to take another subject when they’re in P4, instead of being able to join their seniors immediately for an elective. So, this resulted in many whizzes in Finance/other subjects remaining in our class, scoring full marks. The only consolation is this widens the standard deviation which also affects the GPA. But many of us see this as a waste of our whiz classmates’ time and an unfair comparison for those with no such background and only 2 months (or less) to learn everything.
But don’t get me wrong - I do enjoy the classes, I like my classmates, and every day there are jokes and laughter and lots of participation, which is hard to find in most local schools. However, sometimes I wish I could upgrade the RAM in my head and also my hard disk space and write speed so I can simply take in everything that’s being hurled at us and regurgitate them at the right moments. When we graduate, will we remember everything we were force fed? I also learned that while my GMAT score is above the average, that doesn’t necessarily make a difference. And if you fall very sick during the exams, that isn’t taken into account by your markers. I found out the hard way. So keep yourself healthy when you come to INSEAD, especially when it’s time to perform.