On a cloudy afternoon at the end of September, I was sitting in the Shell Shanghai office busy with loads of emails and all of sudden an INSEAD email jumped into my eyes. Opening the email with a presentiment, I saw a long letter starting with congratulations. I was extremely happy but silent as all the efforts I had made and all the unique moments in the past half year were rushing back into my mind.

From Shanghai to Singapore, it is a five-hour flight of 2500 miles. From Shell to INSEAD, it is a restarting of another exciting and enriching experience.

In this, my very first INSEAD blog, I would like to share my pre-MBA experience and some of the key milestones during my application with all of you. I am pretty sure that holding an interest of joining INSEAD, you’ve heard a lot about the pros and cons, school rankings, average profile, essay writing or interview preparation. Some of you may hesitate to kick off real actions as you may be finding it quite tedious or terrifying.

First, always be AUTHENTIC. No matter if you might have language barriers or feel stressed about rounds of interviews, the most important thing is to be the real you and demonstrate your characteristics, as that is the only way to connect and impress others. You can start with half a day of self-reflection on both career and personal experiences.

For me, I spent over 6 years in the Sales and Marketing domain at Shell, and there are achievements I am so proud of as well as failures that I will never escape from. With past experiences and feedback, I looked back to my personality, strengths, weaknesses, motivators, interests and expectations. I enjoyed the application process as a journey of self-understanding and exploration. I am more confident about who I am and what I want for my future.

Besides, don’t be shy to reach out for help. The INSEAD faculty are extremely friendly and helpful. I got so much support during the application and I was never alone in this journey. I finished my application before the deadline of the 4th round and I do suggest you start as early as possible for more scholarship opportunities. In my case, scholarship applications were already closed in the 4th round. I talked to the INSEAD financing officer for advice on financial support available and she gave me many practical suggestions. In the end, INSEAD also offered me a Women’s Scholarship based on application quality. So, do not restrict your dreams even before trying to ask for advice.

My best advice is to connect with people as much as possible. I went to Singapore for a campus visit, talked to faculty of the MBA program and attended the INSEAD Women in Business Conference, which made me more sure about my choice.

During the alumni interviews, it was so much fun to share my experiences and thoughts with alumni who had joined INSEAD 16 years ago, and learn from their enlightening perspectives and suggestions. Trying to connect to more alumni that you know will be helpful as well. So many of them told me that the year at INSEAD will be one of the greatest years in my life, just be open-minded and embrace what is going to happen!

I am looking forward to the life at INSEAD, and I will soon come back to share more with you guys. Leave me a comment and tell me what you want to learn more about INSEAD.

Happy new year and enjoy your holiday!

Jingyi SHEN