Monday, 30 March 2015

French student Hervé shares his thoughts on coming to ESSEC and studying in the Grande Ecole degree

In this interview, Adil questions Hervé Seck, 1st year ASC (French entrance exam track) student, on joining the ESSEC MSc in Management (Grande Ecole) programme.

Life before ESSEC
Born in Paris, I went to school in the 4th district in Paris but I've lived in northern Paris and Aubervilliers (which are more underprivileged areas). It provided me with very different experiences. For instance, in primary school I was baby-sat by a woman living in our street in an apartment of 30-35 m2 with her husband and her four children. On the other hand, I had a friend living in a big apartment in downtown Paris. Those experiences have taught me to be humble and to have perspective about life and my situation, how lucky I was to live my own life, even when my parents' business went bankrupt and we had hard times. Furthermore, my father is Senegalese and the Senegalese culture runs in my blood. Not only did it contribute to the background giving me perspective, but also it has made me someone easy to get on with and who needs to enjoy himself a lot and have warm relationships.

On the Grande-Ecole programme 
What I like in the Grande-Ecole programme is that it gives me the opportunity to open my mind and do many things because I have to spend 9 months in a foreign country (exchange or internship), 18 months in a company (internships, apprenticeship), and the possibility to chose the topics I want to study during my master years. I think the most interesting thing about the programme is how both flexible and professionalising it is.

On life at ESSEC so far
So far, what I've found the most fascinating is the PCE, a real consulting mission. As soon as my first year, I'm working for SNCF, the national railway company, and it is a very concrete start in the professional world. After all these years of theoretical learning, especially coming out of a Prépa (preparatory class), I think it is essential to get into the swing of things and start practising because we are absolutely ready for that. And the more work experience we have before graduating, the better it is.

On the uniqueness of ESSEC 
In my opinion, it is rare to find a school where the student life is so intense (at least in France, from what I've heard). For the last two months, I've hardly found time to breathe! Students may develop skills through their associations and they enjoy it a lot, many events are staged... conferences, sports teams, etc. (aside courses and application for jobs). You always have something to do!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

What to expect from your first few months at ESSEC

Studying at ESSEC 

If you are an international student I advise you to attend the French training session before the course starts, even if you already have a pretty good level. These are weeks of pure enjoyment. My month typically consisted of trips to surrounding regions, salsa lessons, dinner parties and late nights in Paris. It’s sort of the calm before the storm, because when the work starts things get a bit less relaxed.

The pre-MSc courses can be a shock to the system. Having given up maths for good at the age of 15, I found myself staring cluelessly at the blackboard in my first pre-MSc Mathematics class wondering whether the course was being taught in French or English. The content comes thick and fast, because the pre-MSc courses are designed to bring you up to the requisite level for you to complete the core courses, regardless of your pre-existing level. If you haven’t studied maths, accounting, finance, statistics, excel or micro-economics I would suggest brushing up a little before your arrival, otherwise you might find yourself playing catch up, like I did!

You have to validate 25 “UVs” to graduate from ESSEC. 1 UV is basically a class. 8 of these UVs have to consist of 8 out of the 9 available core modules. Courses are generally available in French and English but don’t worry if you’re not a fluent French speaker, it’s completely optional if you wish to classes in French.

Between January and July, I’m taking part in something called the International Sports Marketing Chair. A Chair is study track which allows students to complete research and delve deeper into their areas of interest. The International Sports Marketing Chair is completed in partnership with Adidas, Heineken and Havas and some of the field work in recent years has consisted of visiting UEFA headquarters in Switzerland, a trip to the Emirates stadium in London and attending a conference in Qatar. It’s ideal for someone who wants to work in sport, as I hope to. Some chairs are quite selective, in particular the LVMH luxury brand management chair - so it’s good to have some work experience on your CV to maximise your chances.
International Sports Marketing Chair trip to Clairefontaine, home of French football

This is just a small snapshot of some of the academic options available at the beginning of your ESSEC life. The programme is truly flexible, and after the first term you can basically study what you want, when you want, where you want!