Our honest report
This blog post aims to be a thought-provoking synthesis of our reflective talks throughout our year at HEC Paris. As we believe that HEC Paris possesses excellent academic quality, and excels in bringing some of the very best students to campus, we believe that there are several reasons why more Nordic, and in particular Danish, students should apply to international top-tier business schools and HEC Paris in particular.
This blog is an honest account of an environment and the learnings arising from it.
Both of us from Danish peninsula Jutland, we arrived green and fresh to Copenhagen in the summer of 2013 to begin our university studies. We initially met at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), from where we both obtained a BSc in International Business.
During the third year of our bachelor’s degree, we were both accepted to HEC Paris, Anthon to MSc in International Finance and Jarl to MSc in Strategic Management. Further, we got to know each other better as we both competed in international case competitions as part of the CBS Case Teams.
Having recently finished our studies, we are both about to begin our professional careers, Anthon in banking and Jarl in management consulting. Before embarking on the next step, however, we believe there are some lessons to be passed on.
So, is it really worth it?
When we chose to undertake our master’s studies at HEC Paris, it was clear that it imposed on us significantly more uncertainty compared to studying in the comfortable setting of Copenhagen. Very few Danes take the leap to study abroad and even fewer choose to do so in France, both because of the relative quality of education in Denmark and the convenience and affordability of Danish education. Therefore, most students feel that studying a complete master’s degree abroad is not only demanding, but also a risky endeavor.
But looking back, as it is always easier to understand things retrospectively, it is apparent that the decision was not risky. With the brand endorsement of HEC Paris, our downside was small. Of course, there is always the chance that you do not end up exactly where you hoped after studying. But you can be sure that HEC Paris will expose you to the all the opportunities out there. And with HEC Paris on your resume, the odds are stacked in your favor.
Many programs, one culture
Even though HEC Paris offers many top-ranked programs, the approach is similar across disciplines. The hands-on and practical assignments are engineered to reflect the life that awaits students in their professional life, be it banking, consulting or large MNEs. The teaching philosophy is driven by a collection of academics and industry professionals who are the very best in their respective fields. In MSc International Finance, this means studying macroeconomics taught by the chairman of the Central Bank of Argentina or investment strategies taught by a hedge fund manager. In MSc Strategic Management, it means working directly with leading academics and practitioners in the strategy and private equity fields or having top executives lead case discussions in class. This approach provides a strong bridge between academics and practice. Furthermore, the flexibility of the programs at HEC Paris sets it apart. This means you can customize your program with a wide range of electives, company projects and a series of small specializations, termed “certificates”.
The personalization, variation, and flexibility of the various programs are in our view elements that set the approach of HEC Paris apart from other institutions that we have experienced.
Living your education
Besides the obvious academic and professional advantages HEC offers, our year here has also provided us with other, more intangible benefits. Coming from the Nordics the French education system offers an alternative and intense approach. First, you live on campus, like your peers. This means that you are constantly interacting with and learning from others. Second, the school deliberately tries to simulate professional life by incessantly demanding high-quality work, whether write-ups, presentations or financial models – and doing so under an ever-accumulating number of deadlines. With this kind of learning, you quickly grasp how to compartmentalize your life.
What does it all mean? At other institutions, you study a subject. At HEC, you live an experience.
To read more about our student experience in Paris and international careers: https://selfmadeodyssey.com/