What I really learnt in business school
It's not what I thought I would learn, but something else entirely
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It’s now almost 2 years since I’ve been done with my classes at HEC Paris. That’s a lot of time to reflect on what I really learnt there, and why going to business school something that’s worth spending so much time and money on.
In this issue, I will break down the key things I got out of studying at business school.
The real value of going to B-school —
Learning how to network:
I feel like networking gets a bad connotation of being inauthentic, selfish, purpose driven, and something you do when you’re desperate.
At business school, I learnt what networking really is — it’s making genuine, authentic connections with people that are based on exchanged value. This value is often in the form of having insightful conversations, fun and drinks, motivation, inspiration, or shared opportunities.
But the key thing is that both parties receive value.
I learnt how to genuinely give value to others, and build a strong network as a result.
And the best part? When you go to a top business school, others around you will set an example for you. Alumni, teachers, managers, bosses, mentors, friends, classmates, they will all show you how it’s done.
I remember one of my managers when I interned at Estée Lauder in my gap year had told me: “Mayank, it’s part of your job to have coffees with the other interns, and other people. Don’t hesitate to take breaks during the day to do that. It’s important.”
So far, I had been networking just for fun, in an ad-hoc manner, meeting only people that aligned with my values and could be friends. But during and after B-school, I started to take a more intentional approach to it.
Note that intentional ≠ inauthentic.
Intentional = doing it with the purpose of sharing as much value with others as possible, and building goodwill.
Expanding the things I think are possible:
I always wanted to move to and work in LA, but I didn’t think it was possible, so I didn’t even try.
Until one I received an email one day with the internship job description of my dreams. When I dug further, I learnt that it was actually an HEC girl that had networked with the CEO of the company to convince him to hire her as an intern, and after her they decided to hire one more — which turned out to be me.
That girl — she tried. She didn’t think it was not possible.
In LA, I met my manager. He was running a 6-figure a year side business at that time, which is now a multiple 7-figure full time business. He was the one that taught me “Most people fail because they don’t persist. They give up too soon.” He made me understand that actually, it is possible to have it all — a job you love and money.
At HEC, I met others that took big risks and won big. Others took big risks and lost, but they learnt a lot in the process so they bounced back even bigger. I met people that came from very different economic backgrounds from me on both extremes, and learning about their perspective on the world showed me that my perspective needs to be expanded.
When you grow up in a middle or upper-middle service class family with no entrepreneurial background, you think in a significantly different way from people that grow up in an entrepreneurial household.
Sometimes all you need to expand what you’re able to do is to expand your mindset. Only once you see, meet and talk to people that did things that you want to do but don’t think are possible, only then you even start to think they might be possible.
And that’s what makes all the difference. Belief.
Challenging my perspective on the world:
As I mentioned earlier, going to B-school, especially a top school abroad, will push you to meet people from a variety of different backgrounds — social, cultural, economic, academic.
That’s what pushes you to learn more and more about the world, and the different types of people in it.
This builds empathy — a quality that is incredibly important as a manager or leader, but equally important to get ahead in life as well.
Growing the boundaries of my comfort zone:
When you’re surrounded by people doing crazy things, you permit yourself to do crazy things. Eventually, doing crazy things becomes the norm. They don’t seem so crazy anymore.
Spending a weekend with French-speakers when you don’t speak any French? Crazy at one time, not crazy anymore.
Meeting random people from Instagram for coffees? Crazy at one time, normal part of networking now.
Moving all the way to LA from Paris with just 2 suitcases, a backpack, and a 10-day hostel reservation hoping I’ll find an apartment soon? Super crazy at one point, not so crazy now.
Building a side business? Crazy at one point, not so crazy now.
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These are just a few of the things I’ve got out of attending business school.
Would I have had this growth, these learnings and experiences without attending B-school? Maybe eventually. Maybe not. Who knows.
But I know that attending B-school abroad at the age of 23 gave me these learnings at the age of 23, at an age where the compounding value of these learnings is very high.
The growth curve of my life would have been very different if I didn’t go to HEC in 2018, that’s for sure.
And that’s why this newsletter is called The Growth Curve. Since it’s a documentation of my own growth curve.
How I can help you
My B-School Application Essay Guide. If you’re applying to business schools, this guide can help you write your essays in the best, most impactful way possible.
My YouTube channel. Information about living in and moving to France.
The Growth Curve Community. My free Slack community of people applying to study/move abroad, current expats, and growth minded people.
Magoosh GMAT Prep Software. This is the same GMAT prep tool I used to get a score of 760, something that was key to my admission at HEC Paris. (affiliate link)
Thanks for reading this far. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for being a member of this community.
See you next week!