The reputation of HEC Paris doesn’t need proving, nor does the strength of its alumni network. Although, to the newly-arrived fresh-faced student first stepping onto the campus, it can seem to not be as they were expecting.
The campus is nothing . . . It is nothing more than what a person makes of it, its potential is up to you to unravel, or to not. And that is, above all, the choice that HEC offers us; the choice to build our own path, the choice for each individual to be who they want to be.
The hardest part is to make this choice. It took me two years to realize that. When I arrived onto the campus, I jumped on every opportunity that was presented to me. Without choosing.
Thinking back to these two years, they went by so quickly. Punctuated in between with all-nighters and Pasta Boxes which were gulped down on the go. They were like a whirlwind of encounters, with each one following the other at breakneck speed.
I was lucky enough to be able to build: I launched a start-up, created a social enterprise association, led one of the equal opportunities programs that the School runs, I worked in Morocco and in the Philippines. I was a consultant, an event organizer, and a musician.
I loved this time in my life but the crazy pace of activity, in the end, did not suit me. I was searching for meaning, I wanted something else. And while many of my classmates naturally moved towards more or less fitting careers in finance and marketing, I wanted to leave, to start over.
It was during my gap year that I made my first choices that I stopped following the crowd to try and make my own path. Then, under the half-mocking, half-intrigued eyes of these very same classmates now working in finance, I discovered some new horizons, starting off with human resources which has always intrigued me as a field. But not feeling completely fulfilled within a big group, I continued my research and I got involved with a start-up incubator, the famous Numa, where I was shoulder to shoulder with the future diamonds of the French entrepreneurship world. I started to find my brands but I still wanted to push my research further.
And so it was during my second gap year that I explored the world of Social Enterprise as part of my independent project. 10 countries, 5 consulting assignments, a good forty interviews, and endless, inspiring, moving and surprising encounters. It was one of the most marking periods in the whole of my short life.
On my return to France for my final year of studies, my way of seeing things has changed. I burned some bridges and built some others. My former classmates who are thriving in finance are growing and learning in that world of theirs and they seem happy. Me, I have found another world. And there are many of us, all passionate about social advancement, hoping to help build a better world. We have all changed over the years we have spent at HEC Paris. Some have found their intended vocations reinforced, and for others, some new ones have been discovered. We have all found, within this vast ecosystem, something to nurture our choices, to make us grow and become what we were some years ago.
At HEC you will find nourishment of character, but everything starts with a choice. Your path is yours to make, you cannot count on other people to make it for you.