Internationally, HEC Paris is known for its many prestigious masters, considered as a post undergraduate or executive experience. In France, HEC Paris is la crème de la crème. Not only is it one of the prestigious Grandes Ecoles de commerce, it is THE Grande Ecole de commerce.
I grew up in the French educational system, with the Brevet and then the Scientific French Baccalaureate but unlike many of my classmates, HEC was not initially a dream for me. At that point in my life, my dream was to leave and build an international academic and then professional path, which I am continuing today here at HEC Paris as an international student.
Prior to my arrival at HEC this August, I must confess I was a little scared. I had posted a Tiktok about my admission at HEC, where I was also talking a bit about my path: Bocconi University after my French Bac, an exchange program, a bit of work experience, and there I was happily admitted to HEC and extremely excited to join. That is when I received comments such as “[Preparatory school] is the only royal way”, “Always choosing the easy way, I understand the mediocrity of our elite… Pay attention to the imposter syndrome”, “You don’t have the competencies given by the preparatory schools”. I was a bit frightened. Apparently international students at HEC were alright but French-speaking students coming from an initial French background followed by an international path were not. Rest assured, once I got here things were different. The few people coming from a preparatory school I had the chance to talk to were really nice.
The problem is, I only met very little of them. I am part of the MiM Grande Ecole program, of which a bit more than half of the students come from the L3 (the post-prépa year) and the others join directly in M1. In a course where the majority of people come from preparatory schools, it is a pity for both not to be able to mix more. This unfortunate aspect really is no one’s specific fault. But seeing some student clubs only accepting L3 students, many others holding their activities solely in French, clearly is not the best way to include internationals.
Both groups would have so much to offer. The internationals want to learn French, understand the French culture, they are fascinated by this new country they are building a life in. The French, who have spent the two previous years studying as hard as they could to get into HEC are probably curious about meeting people with a different background. Ex-prepa students can find kind words of advice when it comes to professional experience which most internationals already acquired, while internationals can understand the ropes of France, how to get a job there, understand the system, the habits. Talking in finance terms, which seems appropriate given we are in a business school, the amount of synergies we can create by simply having moments where we mix more, the knowledge and experiences we can share, the different viewpoints we can offer are absolutely infinite.
In HEC Paris, they teach us to dare, dare to jump into the great unknown outside of the campus doors, trying a new job, signing up for a business case, facing another school at a sports game. If we know how to dare outside, why not daring inside too, getting out of our little comfort group, with people talking our language, coming from the same education background.
The volleyball team I am a part of is the most diverse and international (French included) team on campus. We have a lot of fun, are getting to know each other well and are forming friendships. We are the proof it is possible and easy, we just need the right setting.
So if you are reading this as a current HEC student, get out, chat with someone from another country, get to know them. If you are part of a student club, encourage the board to open up to all.
If you are an alumni, have a chat with your friends from HEC, suggest some bonding activities that mix all tracks.
If you are a prospective student, I hope you are excited to join us and that you will put your grain of salt to get to know people from everywhere.
Benedetta Magni (H.25)
@benedetta.magni Replying to @user1928459426869 mini #hecparis #roomtour ♬ wildest dreams tv – 💿⚡️