Q: Do you find direct competition from U.S. schools such as Harvard, or do employers come to INSEAD for a different breed of MBAs?
Jester: INSEAD students have the advantage of being more international and global in their outlook and preparation. We distinguish ourselves by our abilities to work anywhere, where many U.S. schools produce candidates only for the U.S. But at the same time, the big employers come to all of the major B-schools, so it's still very competitive.
Hellborg: It depends. Some companies recruit every year on both [continents], and some will focus on one or the other.
Q: Johanna, 10% of INSEAD's MBAs are sponsored by an employer -- Larissa included. Do those companies have a special influence on the B-school curriculum, as they're repeat customers? Larissa, is there a division between the sponsored MBAs and those who are paying their own way?
Hellborg: INSEAD works in partnership with sponsoring companies and nonsponsoring companies around the world, because the school always wants to be in tune with the real business world.
Jester: People don't really know -- nor really care -- who's sponsored. I haven't noticed any particular fragmentation along those lines at all, except eagerness by the sponsored ones to help the others find jobs.
Q: What type of financial aid packages does INSEAD offer?
Hellborg: A variety of financial aid opportunities are listed on our Web site and American students can all benefit from federal loans.
Q: Do loan packages cover the cost of living as well as school fees?
Hellborg: We don't really have loan packages, but we are always looking for loan opportunities for our participants
Q: To paraphrase a question often asked of students: What would you identify as INSEAD`s biggest weakness, and what is being done about it?
Jester: We're in France, and there are lots of strikes! (I'm kidding, sort of.) INSEAD is working hard to truly become "one school with two campuses," but there are challenges associated with making everything integrate seamlessly. The transfer process is improving a lot, and the administration is working to make more physical linkages within the program [between the two campuses].
Hellborg: The Career Management Service has been struggling in this tough market, but we have just hired a new director of the CMS. The director will dedicate a lot of her time to expanding job opportunities for our participants.
Q: How is the lifestyle at INSEAD's Fontainebleau campus for someone who is married, with children, and from a foreign country?
Jester: For families, it's pretty great. There's a lot of space, you can get a big house. The countryside is safe and pretty. I'm not sure how it works with schools [for the children] and if that is an issue. The spouses and partners often get together and socialize at school and at their homes, so I've heard that the families enjoy it here.
Q: What competitive value does INSEAD's MBA curriculum offer for students affiliated with the technology sector?
Jester: INSEAD can develop general management and entrepreneurial skills that many 'techies' don't have when they arrive at B-school. Also, we are much more global in our perspective and reach, which is important as more and more technology is being outsourced abroad.
Q: How does the placement scene differ between the two INSEAD campuses?
Hellborg: First of all, the job market is tough everywhere right now. And the Career Management Service puts a lot of emphasis on equal opportunities. Company presentations are video-linked to the other campus, and students can interview via videoconferencing.
Jester: Apply for the campus where you really would like to be. For instance, do you prefer an urban campus vs. a rural one, a smaller campus vs. a larger campus, or Asia vs. Europe? The jobs will come, regardless of which campus you pick. Also, you can always transfer campuses if the other continent will be better for your job needs.
Q: Have you felt an impact on students' post-MBA choices from the tightened U.S. visa regulations?
Hellborg: Not really. The U.S. is a part of our job market, but people find jobs all around the world, so those regulations have not really impacted our placement. In fact, we have not really heard so much about the visa issues here.
Jester: I've seen it limit some of my friends' options, but overall it hasn't been a big deal. Those students are finding jobs elsewhere.
Q: Do you two have any final suggestions for students interested in INSEAD?
Jester: INSEAD has been an absolutely terrific experience for me, and I hope many others can come and appreciate it -- both in Singapore and Fontainebleau. Singapore, in particular, is a gem, and as it's relatively new, I'd encourage more people to apply there.
Hellborg: When you write your essays, please show your personal and creative side, and if you have a sense of humor -- use it!
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