Andrei Zlobin, student at Novosibirsk State University, came to Chimie ParisTech – PSL to study engineering and chemistry. He was admitted through the ParisTech International Admission Program and enjoys life in Paris.
APPLICATION TO PARISTECH INTERNATIONAL ADMISSION PROGRAM
- How did you learn about the ParisTech International Admission Program?
In my third year at NSU, I was interested in an advertisement for dual degree programmes with the French Engineering Schools, as I had previously planned to go abroad during my Master's or PhD studies. Since the meeting was aimed at 4th year students, I had another year to think about participating. A year later, the intake was repeated and I signed up.
- Why do you want to study in France?
In the course of my active extra-curricular work in Russia, I had spoken to many successful academics and entrepreneurs. They argued that it is better to get your first higher education (bachelor's degree) in Russia precisely because of the strong and comprehensive theoretical part, and then to look for master's degree options abroad, because only in this way can you take the best from different educational systems, gain fundamentally new experience and new competencies which can be applied in practice in your field, and gain a new perspective on the world. I can now confirm their words. What is more, the French Engineering Schools are highly regarded institutions whose diploma is known, prestigious and highly regarded throughout the world. The education system in engineering schools not only offers a strong focus on the chosen course, but also on management, entrepreneurial and economic knowledge. Despite the pandemic, many of my classmates from Chimie ParisTech have been recruited by some of the world's best companies and research laboratories. Studying in France also offers a unique opportunity to experience the country's fascinating, centuries-old history and culture, experiencing this authentic atmosphere literally every day.
- Did you know about ParisTech schools before applying?
The year before the application, I participated in a meeting of students with the Director of the NSU French Centre and Coordinator of International Education Programmes, Michèle Debrenne. At this orientation meeting, most of the main features of each ParisTech School were explained. Before that, I knew nothing about the engineering school system and had no idea that there were any programmes other than Bachelor's and Master's in Europe.
- How did you find information about ParisTech schools?
Before and during the application process, I consulted with the coordinator of NSU's international study programmes and also searched the Internet for information. Later, I was able to find out the missing information from representatives of the chosen school (during the interview or orientation meetings). The alumni of the programme were also very helpful.
- Why did you choose to apply to a particular ParisTech? What do you want to study at this school?
Apart from the fact that ParisTech includes two schools of interest to me, Chimie ParisTech and ESPCI, there has long been a double degree programme between NSU and ParisTech that promotes student mobility. NSU's International Education Programme Coordinator, Michèle Debrenne, presented this collaboration in great detail; and since I had already started looking for a Master's abroad, this particular opportunity seemed quite feasible to me with a minimum of risks. The application procedure was as clear as possible, it was always possible to contact alumni and ask questions, the examination and interviews were on a predetermined form, and the procedure for applying for scholarships was also already worked out and known. I felt the support and understanding of both the Russian and French sides at every stage of the application process.
- What do you hope to gain from studying at a ParisTech school? How do you perceive the difference between a master degree in Russia and an engineering degree in France?
In fact, I gained and developed far more skills and abilities during my dual degree programme than I had previously expected. I really like the fact that the engineering schools put a lot of emphasis precisely on the management, economics, entrepreneurship and self-positioning in the labour market, as in the Russian Federation the science education is rather theoretical and fundamental and does not touch upon these important features of the modern professional world.
In my opinion, the main difference lies precisely in the education system: French engineers have time to learn and graduate faster than Russian masters (the age difference is 2-3 years). For the French, the engineering programme itself is 3 years; they enter it unlike us by the results of special rather complicated preparatory courses for a couple of years after excellent schooling. Globally, the French education system rather provides knowledge that can be applied in practice, whereas in Russia it is a completely fundamental education.
- How did you prepare for the admission process (scientific test, interview)?
One of the recruitment stages was a GRE test in various disciplines. I prepared according to several study guides, but not really as hard as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I passed it quite well, and I did better in maths and physics than in chemistry, which had never happened to me before. Before the interview, we were also given an overview of the interview format: what it expected from us, and which questions that would be asked. As with the CV and the motivation letter, I did not only think about my strengths and important competencies, but also reflected on my future "career project", i.e. what kind of perspectives the dual degree programme could give me and how I would use them. If you have little experience of being interviewed in a foreign language, I recommend thinking in advance about all possible questions and answers, preparing a list of vocabulary appropriate to your projects (academic or otherwise) and rehearsing a nice and coherent narrative.
- The application platform for the ParisTech International Admission Program will open June 1, 2021: do you have any tips for students who want to apply to ParisTech?
In fact, the basic advice here is one: believe in yourself and your capabilities. Studying in dual degree programmes at ParisTech schools is indeed an unforgettable and very important experience that will definitely change your life.
You do not need to know the language when you start the programme: if you want to, you can learn the language during the time between the selection process and the course itself. Do not draw any conclusions beforehand as to whether you are worthy of admission to schools or scholarships, try to make the most of opportunities. If scholarships don't work out, look for support from the engineering school or other scholarships in your country for those studying abroad.
- Did you learn French before applying to the ParisTech International Admission program? If not, how did you learn it after your admission to a ParisTech school?
No, I studied English and German at school, in which I did very well in Olympiads and exams (which I certainly indicated on my CV). As soon as I found out that I got into Chimie ParisTech, I signed up for a French course at the NSU French Centre. Further, I came to France a month in advance to take part in an intensive FLE course as part of a summer school. As a result I passed my B2 level exam (pretty weak at the time I would say) before starting my studies. During my studies I attended FLE compulsory classes for all three semesters, and also took part in so called conversation "ateliers" with my classmates, arranged directly by the school. In the end, the last semester (a year and a half after I arrived in France, I studied in a C1 group.
- Did you apply to a scholarship? Which one?
Yes, I applied for an Eiffel scholarship and a scholarship from the French Embassy in Russia. Despite the presence of a few B's in my diploma, I managed to get the Eiffel Scholarship, who were apparently encouraged by my professional project and my "scientific" CV.
- Are you regularly in contact with ParisTech and your school of admission?
- Do you plan to work upon graduation, or consider a PhD in France?
In fact, during my studies in France at Chimie ParisTech I had a change of heart on this subject, but now, being already in the final phase of my double degree programme, I am looking for postgraduate opportunities in France. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 there aren't many offers and even fewer of them, and compared to the last years their publication is a bit delayed, but I'm not giving up hope and I'm sending my applications to the upcoming vacancies in the fields I'm interested in.
- What are your goals employment wise, and how do you think studying in a ParisTech school will help you complete them?
I believe that an engineering degree from Chimie ParisTech makes me a more attractive candidate for French and European laboratories, at least when evaluating the competition among foreigners. Many recruiters do not understand the Russian educational system and Russian grades, so the French diploma on my CV will be a kind of starting point for them. Anyway, we will find out soon whether this is true or not, as I will (or will not) get into a French doctoral school.
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