Wednesday 15 July 2015

The winding road to integration at ESSEC

Hello, I’m Adil an ASTI from the United Kingdom and I’ve just finished off my first year of the MSc in Management at ESSEC. Right then, a short(ish) post about some of the things I did at the school this year and how they helped to me to integrate into the student body at ESSEC. 

What is integration?

For an international student, integration quite simply means being involved in ESSEC’s never-ending menu of student activities. Taking full advantage of the school’s community is how you’re going to add value to your period at the school on top of getting a world class education. It’s an opportunity to make friends, improve your French, get involved in projects and show your leadership ability.

The key to your integration into the school is predicated on two things: being adventurous and not being phased by the fear of failure. Too often international students are intimidated by the social structure of the association life. Overcoming this attitude is crucial to ensuring that you achieve your potential at the school, and as Peter O’Connor told me in a recent interview for Reve FM, recruitment processes for associations should be thought of as practice for your future career applications. After all, no one walks through open doors their entire life.

Where to start?

If the first month at ESSEC is a big party (I assure you, there’s more to it than that) the weekend of integration (WEI) is your ice-breaker. Traditionally seen as a first weekend away for French students, the WEI is more open to international students than ever. The BDE (the student council) organises a smorgasbord of fun activities on a beach somewhere far, far away from Cergy.

Top tip: Get together with a group of international friends during the first week and book your tickets. Since it usually costs around 200 euros, none of you will back out after paying that much.

Rallye des assos, Nuit des assos and the recruitments

The first two events: nuit des assocations (an open-house at ESSEC) and rallye des associations (a kind of flat-party relay) are important for helping you decide which associations you like the look of, and which you’d like to be apply to be recruited for. Go around and meet as many associations as you want, talk to as many people as you possibly can, and get a feel for whether you’d be a good fit. People are really happy to speak to you about their associations in English or French – so don’t have any hesitation about walking up to one of the stands. Add all of your potential associations on Facebook and listen out for the date of their recruitments. Write them a short e-mail to say why you’d like to apply (a couple of jokes in the e-mail never go unappreciated) and wait for them to give you a time slot for an interview. In my first trimester I applied to ESSEC North America and Plaidessec. I was accepted by the first and rejected by the second. But even if you don’t get picked up by a particular asso, DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. You weren’t rejected because you are ugly; there are several good-looking people who didn’t get in either...

Top tip: apply to a spread of associations (e.g. one humanitarian, one international, one other) so that you give yourself the best chance.

Sports teams

Hands down, the best way to integrate into the school life. Because even if you’re a boring individual with a wooden spoon of a personality, if you’re good at the sport in question the other students have no choice but to hang out with you. With this in mind, I joined the ESSEC Football Club and made them suffer my company throughout an entire season. We did win a championship, mind you.

Top tip: get down to the park and start practicing your skills.

“Have a seat”

This title is in reference to the ‘Chair’ programmes at ESSEC. A Chair is an academic track which allows you to join a promotion of students in order to delve deeper into a particular area of speciality.  I’ve already written about the Chair system in a previous blog post so, in short, I did the International Sports Marketing Chair from January – June, got to work on a project for UEFA, went on trips to Switzerland and London with people who I got on very well with etc etc. The applications for these usually open around October time.

Top tip: It’s a great way to get to know a group of people, but it’s also a big commitment. Only apply if you are genuinely interested in the subject matter.

Reve FM

A specific paragraph is reserved for this eccentric association which runs the oldest student radio station in France. I joined up during the second recruitments in March of this year, promising to host their first English speaking show which would open up the station to the international community – and that’s what we did. I won’t be around at ESSEC much next year to continue the show, so there might be a slot for a budding international radio host with a “face for radio”. Drop me an e-mail if you want to know more.

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