What would you do if you are dead set on getting into HEC Paris, have a GMAT score of 650, and are applying in the last round for internationals? This was Pranjal’s context when she reached out to us 5 days before the application deadline.
In this article, we explore why Pranjal wanted to pursue an MBA, and uncover the details of her HEC Paris MBA application process. Pranjal shares valuable insights into the process of applying to one of the world’s leading business schools and how partnering with Arvind Kumar (admitStreet) helped her in the journey.
We hope this serves as an inspiration for those aspiring to get into HEC Paris or other top B-schools, and breaks several myths about the MBA application process.
Over to Pranjal.
Why MBA and Why HEC Paris
I’m a marketing professional with around five years of experience, and a Master’s in Marketing and Business Management from SDA Bocconi School of Management, Mumbai Campus.
My decision to pursue an MBA stemmed from my desire to pivot into strategy consulting, gain global exposure and more extensive industry experience. HEC Paris, with its close-knit alumni network and a curriculum aligned with my goals, emerged as the ideal choice. Also, my affiliation with HEC through The Strategy Story platform and alumni connections strengthened my inclination towards the school.
HEC Paris MBA Application Journey
I realized that connecting with the admissions team, alumni, and using platforms like LinkedIn to gather insights are really important, to both understand the nuances of the program and assess fit.
The application process also involved addressing essay questions strategically. HEC Paris values applicants not only for your academic achievements but also for your personal stories and potential contributions to the diverse class.
Working with Arvind helped showcase my accomplishments effectively and craft my essays within the limited word count.
Challenges and How I Overcame Them
To address the challenge of a lower-than-average GMAT score of 650, I had to highlight other areas of my profile and my journey of continuous improvement.
While acknowledging the challenges of standardized testing, I leveraged my academic achievements and professional growth i.e. showcasing my overall profile, including GPA and professional experience, to offset potential weaknesses.
My journey to HEC Paris included two back-to-back interviews, conducted by HEC alumni from different graduating years.
The interviews involved a presentation where I had to showcase my passion and clarity of concepts, drawing from my experiences across industries. The questions delved into my motivations behind pursuing an MBA, specifically at HEC Paris, and explored how I envisioned contributing to the diverse and dynamic class environment.
Particularly during the more rigorous second interview, I had to be patient and maintain my composure when the questions were difficult, back and forth, and in-depth. The alumni sought to gauge my ability to handle nuanced questioning.
In the end, both interviews proved fruitful: I received positive feedback from the alumni and, importantly, secured a scholarship. I believe that my interview experience underscores the significance of preparation, genuine passion, and the ability to articulate one’s unique value in the competitive context of HEC Paris MBA admissions.
I was ecstatic when my success extended beyond the HEC Paris admit; I was offered two prestigious scholarships, including the HEC Paris MBA scholarship for excellence of € 30,000 and Forté Scholarship For Women Candidates.
For the Forte Fellow Scholarship essay, with Arvind’s guidance, I emphasized my role as a woman leader, detailing my efforts to support women-led startups during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. By showcasing how I learned and gave back to the community, I was able to paint a vivid picture of my contributions as a woman in the business world, ultimately helping me secure the scholarship.
The HEC Excellence Scholarship essay, on the other hand, delved into my holistic growth from my schooling days to international experiences. Highlighting my journey and presenting a comprehensive outlook of my personal and professional evolution, I sought to demonstrate why I was a deserving recipient.
Experience Working with admitStreet
I discovered admitStreet while scrolling through LinkedIn, stumbling upon articles discussing what top schools like INSEAD, LBS, and HEC look for in applicants. These articles provided insights into the application process and how successful candidates approached their application journey.
I decided to approach admitStreet for assistance because, Arvind, being a graduate of HEC himself (my target school being HEC) and having worked with candidates who have been to top B-schools, could guide me effectively. Working with Arvind not only helped me understand the specific nuances of HEC and the application process, but also strategize on how best to position myself.
With a hectic work schedule and 5 days before the deadline, I recognized the need for professional guidance and refinement on my application, especially within the constraints of word limits. Arvind played a crucial role in this process. He helped me address instances where my answers didn’t align with the question, offering actionable feedback and rectifications. He particularly emphasized keeping the essays personal, relatable and impactful.
A noteworthy aspect was the timing of my application submission: on the night of October 13th, the deadline day. Juggling work and application focus, I felt anxious. Arvind supported me until 10:30 PM, refining my answers and assisting me until I hit the submit button. This not only refined my application but also alleviated the anxiety of meeting the deadline.
My experience with Arvind (admitStreet) was more than just crafting essays; it was a partnership that eased my journey through the process. Arvind’s insights, personalized guidance, and unwavering support, especially during the eleventh hour, played a crucial role in the success of my HEC Paris MBA application.
Advice for Future Applicants
Believe in Yourself:
Be self-confident. It’s important to recognize that each applicant possesses a unique set of accomplishments and experiences, so the best way to differentiate your profile is to believe in your capabilities and achievements. Confidence can be a decisive factor in the application process.
Challenge Myths and Misconceptions:
As an Indian applicant with a GMAT score of 650, the general myth is that the odds are low. However, my success challenges such stereotypes. My advice to applicants would be to not get swayed by common misconceptions, as your possibilities are not merely confined by standardized tests.
This also included submitting my application in the last round for internationals. Contrary to the misconception that later rounds may not yield scholarships, I would suggest that strategic planning, coupled with a compelling narrative, can lead to success even in the later application rounds (though this is not advisable if you have the option to apply early, ofcourse).
Focus on Positives and Overcome Negatives:
In crafting your application, concentrate on your strengths rather than fixating on potential weaknesses. Acknowledging that everyone has areas of improvement, showcase your positive attributes, experiences, and achievements to overshadow any perceived negatives.
Compile Your Application Holistically:
It’s important to present a holistic profile. Beyond academic and professional accomplishments, aim to delve into personal growth and community contributions. HEC Paris, particularly known for its emphasis on understanding applicants as individuals, values a well-rounded perspective that extends beyond conventional metrics.
Seek Guidance and Feedback:
As the MBA application process is complex, having proper guidance can help shape your narrative strongly. Working with admitStreet and an experienced professional like Arvind allowed me to structure my answers effectively. A good mentor not only helps sharpens your application but also reduces the anxiety associated with the submission process.
Pranjal’s journey to securing admission at HEC Paris stands as a testament to the significance of networking, a well-tailored narrative, and strategic planning in the MBA application process. Her advice emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself, challenging myths, and focusing on the positive aspects of one’s profile.
With dedication and a holistic perspective, one can navigate the competitive landscape of MBA admissions and position themselves for success in both admission and scholarship opportunities.