Why Study MBA For International Business Jobs

Thinking about combining your MBA experience with an international one? Imagining yourself meeting with your study group in the coffee shops of New York or the cafes of Paris?

Getting your MBA in a new country can be an exciting experience. But before you start packing your bags, spend some time thinking about a few things that could make or break your international experience.

Why Study Internationally?

Every year, we survey thousands of MBA students all over the world, asking them about their MBA decisions and experiences. According to our most recent survey of MBA students, more than one-quarter (28%) attend a school outside their country of citizenship. Their main reasons for seeking a degree internationally were:

    • to get a better-quality education than was available in their own country
      for better career opportunities
    • to broaden their international experience/exposure
    • to gain exposure to different cultures/ways
      because the school they attended has an international reputation

If some of those reasons sound familiar, you might be interested in studying internationally, as well.

Look at the Academic Environment Closely

To make sure you will be happy and successful studying in another country, you should make sure you understand something about the cultural style of education in the country you are considering.

Are you expected to participate in group projects? What about class participation? Are you comfortable being challenged in front of your classmates? How are grades calculated?

There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, but you may be surprised to find yourself in a classroom where the style of teaching is very different from what you expect. For example, in many U.S. MBA programs, the students are expected to express their ideas even if they do not agree with those of the professor. In some cultures, that would be considered disrespectful.

Is the School Supportive of International Students?

To determine whether a school is the one for you, you need to look at more than just the percentage of international students in a program. What countries are they from?

What resources does the school provide for international students? Can the school help you with visa requirements? Can the school put you in touch with alumni in your country who attended the school? Is the school willing to be flexible if you have special dietary or religious needs?

Understand the Placement Issues

Job placement may be more of a concern to you than cultural considerations. Many students start an MBA with the intention of remaining in the same country after graduation, only to find out that it is very difficult to get a job there.

When we surveyed corporate recruiters who hire MBA’s about their hiring practices regarding foreign nationals, it became clear that they prefer to hire people who already have the required work permits to work in a country.

U.S. companies
Among U.S. companies, 37% said they hired non-citizens to work in the United States; 19% said they would hire non-citizens, but only to work in the employees’ country of citizenship; 12% hired non-citizens to work outside their home countries and then sponsored them for citizenship.

European companies
Sixty-five percent of European firms said they hired non-citizens to work in the countries where the companies are located; 18% hired non-citizens to work only in their home countries; 8% hired non-citizens to work outside their home countries and then sponsored them for citizenship.

Other world regions
Among companies in other world regions, 45% hired non-citizens for positions where the companies are located; 22% hired non-citizens to work in their countries of citizenship, and 17% hired non-citizens to work outside their home countries and then sponsored them for citizenship.

Bottom line: It can be difficult to get a job outside your country of citizenship, so make sure that you have realistic expectations of international study and post-MBA employment.

Get Answers from the Schools

You should investigate in detail what the school placement office can do for you if you as a citizen of a country other than the one in which you will be studying. Even the best schools might have a significantly lower placement average for their international graduates than for others.

Things to ask: How many companies that come to interview on campus are willing to hire international students? What kinds of industries are willing to hire international students? Are summer internships available to international students? You need to ask very specific questions to find out what you need to know.

How Homesick Are You Willing to Be?

You may come from a culture where family and personal relationships are very close, or you may never have been very far away from home before. Are you prepared to spend a year or two without hearing your language spoken or eating your favorite foods?

Where you choose to attend school can have a big impact on your life. A school in the urban center may have a larger expatriate community than a more isolated, rural campus. Checking with your country’s embassy or consulate can be a good way to find out if there might be other expatriates in the school location that you are considering.

Visas and Immigration

Visa issues have become much more complicated in recent years. The best place to get accurate information is from the schools you are considering applying to. They can usually send you to the correct government agency for student visas. You should be advised that getting a student visa in some countries can take a long time, so plan ahead.

Connect with Other People

Networking is very important in the business world, but to prospective international students, networking is also important before you choose where to study. The best way to find out if a particular school or city is right for you is to talk to people from a similar background who currently attend the school or who graduated recently. See if the school admissions office can put you in touch with any alumni in your area.

You should also investigate some of the online resources for connecting with other students. You should ask some specific questions about what it is like to live and study at the school you are considering before you can make the decision that is best for you.