The first time I saw the electives list for P3, my thought was “I wish I could do all of them”.

 

INSEAD’s curriculum is divided in two main pieces: the core courses, which lay the foundations of your knowledge and take place during P1, P2 and P3 (the first three periods of INSEAD), and the elective courses, which you can choose from a broad array of options and go deeper in specific topics.

In this post, I will cover different strategies you can use to choose your electives and will share my own decision-making process to “elect my electives”. It’s worth noting that to choose your electives you need to go through a bidding process, which is not in the scope of this post.

Choosing your electives is one of the many choices you make at INSEAD

The first time I saw the electives list for P3, my thought was “I wish I could do all of them”. Since this was impossible (unless I got one of those time turners from Hermione Granger), I started talking to people to see how they were making their choices. Among the different people I heard, I noticed some patterns in their reasoning of how they were choosing their electives. The four main patterns I found were:

A – To close gaps on previous knowledge: this was probably my own main driver. For example, as I didn’t have any finance background prior to INSEAD, I wanted to gain some more knowledge in this field, diving deeper and building on my learnings from the core courses.

B – To diversify knowledge: some people look like kids at a candy shop when looking at INSEAD’s electives list. They want to try a little bit of everything to really broaden their skills set. For example, I’ve seen people take, in the same period: Customer Insights (Marketing), Negotiations (Organizational Behavior), and Mergers & Acquisitions (Strategy).

C – To focus on a specific field: for people who are passionate about a field and for those who are sure of where they want to go after INSEAD, it may make sense to be really focused on the elective choices by doing, for instance, only finance, only marketing, or only strategy-related electives.

D – To focus on hard/soft skills: each person comes to INSEAD with a purpose. Some people come from very technical backgrounds (e.g. engineering) and want to develop their soft skills. Others, on the opposite end, want to acquire some hard skills to exceed in their next jobs. Whatever is your goal, it’s possible to match your electives to it.

My group presenting the final project for Financial Statements Analysis

My choice was a mix between strategies A and D – coming from a leadership position where I had many soft skills trainings on the job, I thought I should strengthen my hard skills, with a specific focus on finance. Therefore, my elective choices for P3 were: Applied Corporate Finance, Financial Statements Analysis, Data Science for Business and Strategic Business Advisor. All of them were great choices to enhance my skill set but, apart from that, the thought process of what I wanted to take out of my choices was as important as taking the courses themselves.

All of them were great choices to enhance my skill set but, apart from that, the thought process of what I wanted to take out of my choices was as important as taking the courses themselves.

If you’re applying to INSEAD, it is a great idea to browse through the electives list and ask alumni which electives they were most excited about. In case you want to know more about the electives I took, feel free to contact me through LinkedIn or send an e-mail to leandro.salles@insead.edu.