My journey into ESSEC MiM: Application Strategy, CV, Essays & Interviews

By Arvind Kumar

Prajjwal is one of the most honest, hard-working, and persevering individuals I’ve come across. I was impressed with his profile when he reached out: internship/ professional experience at big-4 firms, balanced extracurriculars, and a good GMAT (Classic 700). However, with his eyes set on the top global MiM programs where competition is fierce, he was seeking specific guidance on how to position his profile best to the Admissions Committees.

In this article, we explore why Prajjwal wanted to pursue an MiM and uncover the details of his ESSEC MiM application process including his application strategy, the importance of a strong CV, how to craft impactful essays, how he prepared for interviews and his ESSEC interview debrief. Prajjwal also shares how partnering with Arvind Kumar (admitStreet) helped in his journey. 

We hope this serves as an inspiration for those applying to ESSEC MiM or other top B-schools.

Over to Prajjwal.

Background and Motivation

I was born in Agra, the land of one of the 7 wonders of the world. Growing up, I lived for around a year in 6 semi-urban cities in Rajasthan. After completing my BBA in finance from SCMS Noida, I pursued multiple internships in risk advisory, financial consulting, and marketing. I also worked for a year in corporate tax at a big-4 firm, and am now doing an internship in M&A.

There are 2 key reasons I wanted to pursue a Masters in Management (MiM):

  1. I plan to transition to Investment Banking or Financial consulting. A master’s program is one of the best ways to make this switch.
  2. An MiM would give me access to a worldwide network and community, which would be useful throughout my life. 

Given their history, rankings, and my geographical inclination towards Europe, I was always keen on European MiM programs like HEC, ESSEC, and LBS.  

Application Strategy and Importance of CV

Applying in Round 2, I gave myself plenty of time to achieve a good score (GMAT Classic 710) and effectively plan the application process. Seeking professional guidance, I reached out to Arvind (admitStreet) after he responded to my query on GMATClub, and signed up for the 2-school MiM application package. 

We first started working on my CV, which drastically improved from a 3/10 to a 9 or 10/10.

Arvind helped me improve the impact of my work by suggesting ways to quantify my achievements. He also guided me to replace less impactful points with more impactful ones. 

Lastly, with Arvind’s guidance, I was able to recognize and remove certain points that highlighted qualities that were unrelated to my target programs e.g. focusing more on analytical skills and less on creative skills.

With a strong CV in hand, I felt confident to approach the application process.

Crafting Unique Application Essays

Firstly, Arvind asked me to fill out a detailed questionnaire where I wrote about key anecdotes highlighting important life skills, soft skills, and technical skills that would be useful while crafting essays. I wrote unstructured and raw thoughts without caring much about the word limit.

We then had a brainstorming session in which Arvind helped me make a synopsis of the essays I would write. I also performed a deep research on the following topics:

  • Clubs/societies of my target B-schools 
  • Career plans post MiM
  • Events conducted by my target B-schools 
  • Electives and courses offered by my target B-schools
  • Employment reports and brochures published
  • Companies that offer the most internships/job opportunities to a specific B-school
  • Aspects about a B-school that make it unique e.g. values, curriculum, program characteristics, etc.

These points really helped me make my essays specific and unique to different B-schools.

Additionally, some of my differentiating angles were my semester exchange program abroad, work-ex covering multiple internships, full-time and volunteering experience, and event-related and competition victories. 

I then started writing essays and had periodic brainstorming/follow-up sessions with Arvind. With each new iteration, he helped me identify every irrelevant and less impactful thought and suggested changes I could make and anecdotes I could include. He also helped me break up questions and answer exactly what is being asked, making my essays to the point and very effective in conveying the key message. 

Overall, by highlighting key values using apt examples from my personal and professional life, we were able to make my essays memorable and personal in the eyes of Adcom. 

Interview Preparation & ESSEC MiM Interview Experience

Being elated and equally nervous when I received the ESSEC MiM interview invite, I signed up for mock interviews with Arvind. Firstly, Arvind (admitStreet) provided me with the most frequently asked interview questions. According to my own understanding, I made sample answers to each question. I then did 5 mock interviews with Arvind. 

During each interview, Arvind and I meticulously tracked each of my weaknesses, and I tried to improve on them in the next mock interviews. Because of maintaining such in-depth details, I was able to improve exponentially during the mock sessions.

Arvind also helped me recognize my weaknesses/potential red flags in my responses. For example, he highlighted points related to my voice modulation, overall energy, and avoiding certain words or anecdotes. By working on his feedback, I made my responses more structured, learned to modulate my voice better to sound more engaged, and learned what not to say in an interview. 

To improve on voice modulation and listening questions carefully, I not only practiced a few times in front of a camera but also practiced giving interviews with my elder sister. Getting my sister’s POV and tracking my expressions from recorded videos allowed me to improve. 

On the D-day, my ESSEC MiM interview panel had 3 members: an alumnus, a student, and a professor. It was a mix between a traditional interview and a conversation-like interview. Following is the summary of the questions I was asked in my  ESSEC MiM interview:

  • Why MiM, why ESSEC, why Paris
  • My short-term and long-term goals
  • How I adjusted to language issues and cultural issues at the IESEG School of Management (I went to an exchange semester there)
  • My favorite memory of France
  • Any international news I recently read and its ramifications
  • My role model
  • Did you go through the courses/treks/chairs
  • Clubs I wanted to join (especially the non-academic ones) and how I will contribute
  • Any questions for us? 

If you’re interviewing for ESSEC or any top MiM program, I would suggest the following points:

  • Know your essays and CV – what you wrote and why
  • Be prepared to get questions on your career goals and why they would be a good fit given your background
  • Know the courses and professors of your liking at ESSEC
  • Prepare business current affairs
  • Remember to engage all panel members in your conversation. Try to ask all of them at least 1 question towards the end to show interest in the program

Working with Arvind (admitStreet)

Arvind made a schedule before starting the entire process and was proactive throughout the journey. He ensured that I completed the application within the set deadline and that I did not face any issues. He went above and beyond in his support and follow-ups and was very considerate.

Navigating this process with Arvind helped me better understand my career goals, get a solid understanding of what business schools look for in essays, and improve my interview performance exponentially. He suggested novel ways to address each of my potential profile-related weaknesses in applications, enabling me to strengthen my application in ways I could not have done alone.

Arvind’s expertise, experience, and honesty were instrumental in helping me land my ESSEC MiM admit, and I am grateful for his support!

Advice for Prospective MiM Candidates

Some tips and learnings from my application journey:

  1. If you’re working full-time and have a hectic schedule, dedicate at least 2 months to finish your essays. Write whatever comes from your heart in a document. Let it be unstructured. Let your most innate experiences reflect through the document. Then refine it over 5-6 iterations of drafts.
  2. Each B-school values different things/traits. Eg – LBS values its community and alumni network. Similarly, ESSEC values its flexible course structure. Don’t ignore the very core things that differentiate B-schools.
  3. Talk to people. If you message 10 people, 3-4 would reply, so start early. They’ll give you first-hand experience.
  4. Know your career goals. B schools find those applicants very attractive who know what they’ll gain out of the b school experience. They want to know how quickly you can get employed post-MiM, so good to have a main career goal that’s reasonable and a backup plan
  5. Proactively address what you feel is your weakness. Weak academic history? Address it. Maybe you were sick, were participating in multiple extracurricular competitions, etc.  Low quant/verbal score? Maybe you interact regularly in English with international teams etc.

Tips specific to ESSEC MiM

  1. ESSEC wants you to reach out to the current students (especially the program ambassadors). This was my takeaway after talking to students, alumni, professors, and Adcom members
  2. Highlight ESSEC’s strengths in the interview – flexible course structure, apprenticeship, partner universities, etc. Let the excitement reflect in the interview too.
  3. ESSEC’s essays are longer than the average B-school essays. They want to know you better. Share those experiences that give the most insights into your personality and potentially tell them how you’ll contribute and how you work in teams and as a leader. 
  4. Know why you are forgoing opportunities in the USA and UK to study in France and face language issues. They’ll most definitely ask this. 
  5. You may slightly exaggerate your contributions to a project or team but never lie. My student interviewer asked a very specific thing about my IESEG experience that I wouldn’t have been able to answer if I had misrepresented facts. 

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