5 September 2014

I’m three weeks into the MBA program at INSEAD and I have already made meaningful connections with so many of my classmates. At first glance, the diversity of the INSEAD student population can be intimidating. My classmates are some of the most successful young professionals from every corner of the world. As an engineer from the U.S., what could I possibly have in common with an investment analyst from India or a luxury goods public relations manager from Belgium? Meeting all of these new people with different backgrounds and cultures has made me realize that the fact that we are all so diverse is what makes us have so much in common. We all have so many experiences that it is easy to find something that we share, even if it is small. With the depth of our diverse cultures, experiences, and characteristics, there is bound to be overlap.

Where are you from? This is the classic question that I’ve struggled with all of my life and most INSEADers have a difficult time answering it with just one word. My family is from Slovakia, I was born in Austria, but grew up in Florida and lived in Chicago before I came here. This complicated answer is nothing new among the INSEAD student population and my dual nationality is completely normal. Because there are so many students with dual-nationalities and those that have lived/worked all around the world, I feel like I truly belong here.

What did you do? Another difficult one to answer. Many of have had multiple jobs before coming here and even already changed careers from our undergraduate education. Then there’s the question of what we want to do after graduation—even harder to answer. However, because of the breadth of experience, I’ve met people that have worked in the same industries or job functions as I have.

What’s next? Like I said, people are very curious about what you want to do post-MBA but the truth is that most of us are still exploring our options. On-campus recruitment is going on for the 14D class but many of us 15Js are participating to get ahead and learn more about companies. The struggle to figure out what to do next bring our class together as we ask each other about our former careers and discuss options for the future.

It is the things that make us different that actually bring us together. Because of the wide variety of locations, jobs, and experiences, you’re bound to have at least one little thing in common with everyone that you meet. Maybe it’s a former employer or location or simply the global mindset that brought us all together at INSEAD in the first place. I’ve made connections with other people that have immigrated to new countries even if we are from opposite ends of the world.

I’m looking forward to discovering more about my classmates as the year goes on and getting to know everyone past the surface questions of where you’re from and what you did before.