#HECAlumnidinner #HECWelcomeweekend #frenchdinnerwithfrenchmusic #frenchlunch
All these hashtags bombarded my Instagram last Saturday and Sunday while the Alumni Welcome Weekend was taking place in Paris. 310 foreign students visited the homes of 210 HEC alumni as part of the project. Considering that the event is organized for the first time, those are quite impressive numbers.
What is the Alumni Welcome Weekend? It is an event organized by the HEC Alumni that aims to bring current HEC students and alumni together in a cozy and relaxed environment. Students are invited for either lunch or dinner in an alumni’s apartment in Paris, where French food and beverages such as the famous apéros, foie gras, ratatouille, raclette, crêpes or wines await to be tasted by gourmands.
When I saw the invitation in my mailbox I knew I wanted to be part of the Alumni Welcome Weekend and I immediately signed to get a host. After a couple of weeks, I received the name of my host, her address in Paris and a few tips on how to do an excellent first good impression. An amalgam of thoughts crossed my mind while I was driving through crowded Paris as I did not know what to expect. I knew I wanted to ask her everything about her success story, about the industry in which she is working, about how to find a job after graduation and about how to better integrate in the French society. When I finally reached her apartment, she came downstairs to greet me and I immediately saw a very friendly and sociable alumnus, who was eager to rememorize with me the old times at HEC.
I had an extremely pleasant welcoming as she was opening a bottle of wine from Bordeaux- her hometown. Soon enough we got caught in diverse conversations about her experience at HEC, her role in her current company, her involvement in the HEC Alumni Network, her tips for being an excellent student in HEC and her HEC memories. While she was speaking, I got more and more excited about my future at HEC and in France. It is always reassuring to have someone who already went through these steps advising you and answering your questions. Three hours passed quickly and soon after I saw myself on campus, drawing conclusions about our nice dinner.
I feel that HEC Alumni Welcome Weekend is an amazing opportunity to network with former HEC students who found the key to success and are willing to share their invaluable experiences with current students. What is even better is to have a French lunch or dinner in an informal setting as this allows students to be more relaxed and feel at home. Also, it is always a good way to get more insights into the French lifestyle and culture. A big part of the HEC experience is networking so what is left for students to do? Network, network and network!