MBA SUCCESS STORY: ALEXANDER ONISH, MBA ’12 HEC PARIS (PART 2 OF 2)

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Posted by TheMBATour on 18 April 2013 / 0 Comments

Alexander shares on how he got his internship, what he liked most about his school, and how his career changed after graduation.

Alexander Onish MBA 2012 HEC PARIS
Assistant Manager, E-Commerce & Interactive Marketing at L'Oréal - Kiehl's Since 1851

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE ON CHOOSING A BUSINESS SCHOOL?

#1: The first piece of advice is that you need to be sure that really want to do a MBA because I have met so many people who have thought about the idea of getting their MBA because they didn’t know what was next. So, you need to know that what you put into your MBA is what you will get out if. You are not going to just be accepted to a school and have things happen for you. You will have to work hard to learn, you will have to network and you will need to experience all of the things that are presented to you. You can’t take a passive role. When you have the right motivation with the right end goal, you will GET a great end goal. Ultimately, you need to know what you want to get out of an MBA in order to get the most out of a MBA.

#2: Understand what market and what function you want to work in afterwards. Does the school that you’re applying to have connections in the French Luxury Market or the consulting industry? You have to learn about the schools, who are their major recruiters? Who comes to campus? Who are the students engaging with the most? You can find that out by talking to the career office and alumni.

#3: Don’t be shy to get involved. Your school should have a lot of on-campus and off-campus activities. You can’t forget that your MBA is not just about what you learn in the classroom. It’s about the social connections that you make, how you work in teams and how you use the information that you get from the classroom in the best way possible. That also ties into the fact that a MBA is not an isolated thing. You have to remember that there is a world around it. You will need to bring what you learned from an MBA and bridge the gap between the real world and the people who are not in your MBA at all.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET AN MBA?

I decided to do a MBA because I felt in the American University system everyone is so focused on one specific thing. I got great experience working in one role in one industry and I wanted to take my expertise and broaden it in order to specialize it toward something else. I was into changing my career and my industry. I chose HEC Paris because I wanted to go abroad. When I looked at all the schools in Europe, HEC Paris really caught my eye because it was one of the most internationally diverse schools that I saw out there. In addition, there was great faculty at the school, especially in marketing, my area of interest. Also, I was looking for support of a larger University system. I didn’t want to go to a school that only had a MBA program. I wanted to go to a school that had different faculties, like an undergraduate school or a PhD program to make sure that there were people doing research and there were lots of other things going on at the school in order to get different perspectives.

From an international perspective, I want to add that it was very important to me to be abroad. During all my years living abroad before doing the MBA, I learned so much about myself and others, and how to communicate with others and how the world works from just being around people from different cultures. So, I knew that the only way that I could break out to the next level and get to where I wanted to be professionally I needed to do my MBA in an international environment. One of the major things that really brought this out to me was HEC’s requirement to study a foreign language. Having learned a little French in high school, which was not much, but I was hoping that this language requirement would help launch my career, and all those reasons together are why I choose HEC.

I’ve lived abroad before for extended periods of time working in Asia and learning in Western Europe, but doing a MBA as an American, you need to understand that there are always going to be a lot of Americans around and you are going to be faced with the perspective of you as your country. Americans doing MBA’s abroad aren’t always necessarily aware of the fact that people are going to view you as your country. We have to think about it from the perspective of how you would view someone who is coming to study in your country as a foreign student. There are administrative things that you have to understand are different and they’re not necessarily better or worse. Things that you take for granted in your country might not be the same in a different country and it has nothing to do necessarily with France, it could be in the UK, Spain, Singapore or India. A lot of the things that go into the visa application process and the access that you have to the administration there, in terms of the government of school, can take time and you have to be patient. If you are patient, you won’t become stressed and you will be in the right learning environment that you’re looking for. But, overall, you have to keep an open mind. You will learn more than you ever think you could know by being abroad. You’ll learn about yourself, what types of things you question about your own culture and the things that you like about a foreign culture. You’ll become this new hybrid person of all the things you cherish about your own culture and the things you’ve learned to love about a new culture.

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