Many who sign up for an MBA program do so with the goal of having a high-powered, international business career. MBAs usually comprise international travel, exotic group projects and internships, and case studies about businesses throughout the world.
Whether you've studied languages useful for business or have always loved the idea of moving abroad for work, there are plenty of reasons to aim for an international job post-MBA. But what does it take to snag one when your degree is finished? To set you up for success, there are certain steps you can take, even before you start applying to MBA programs. Here's what it takes.
1. Shop International MBA Programs
Why wait to apply for jobs abroad when you can go to school abroad first? If you have a desired country where you aim to work, check out the MBA programs in that country. Those programs are often cheaper and/or shorter than MBA programs in the United States. They're also going to have closer ties to the internships, graduate job schemes, and employment opportunities in your desired country of work.
Even if your MBA program is already underway or finished, you may want to look at the MBA programs in your desired country. What does it say on their website about the companies that interview on their campus? Where do the majority of graduates go to work after they complete their degree? International MBA programs can be a source of inspiration for you, whether you pursue one or are just doing some research.
2. Ask About Interntional Internships
MBAs are all about business, so the internship component of your program will be a key piece of your degree, almost from day one. Before you even apply for an MBA, make sure you ask about international internships - does your institution encourage them? Do they have relationships with a lot of organizations abroad?
Just as with undergrad degrees, internships often lead to job offers. By going abroad during your program, you'll maximize networking and skills development required to land a job abroad.
3. Understand Market Trends
Which countries and sectors hire talent from overseas? These trends may change over long periods, but probably won't shift dramatically during the one or two years of your MBA program.
You may want to make your MBA focus about technology, finance, supply chain management, or consulting. These verticals are most likely to hire international applicants. If your expertise aligns with these market trends, you'll be seen as a valuable asset.
Additionally, the larger the company, the more likely they are to hire an international workforce. They'll have the resources to sponsor a visa where necessary, and they've had the time and experience to grow an international onboarding process. That doesn't mean you can't get hired by a smaller firm, but international hires tend to be standard practice within larger corporations.
4. Your Experience Is More Relevant Than You Know
Even if you're changing both countries and sectors, your past experience can be spun as a unique asset. For example, many foreign businesses want someone who can help them successfully launch or translate their products into English-speaking, western marketplaces. Just by virtue of having some work experience prior to your MBA, you have the inside scoop on business culture and growth strategies in a country that will play a key role to international business interests.
You're also likely a native English speaker, which can be an intensely sought-after skill for foreign employers looking to dominate western markets. In other words, you are more qualified than you think; it's just about spinning the right story to become attractive to foreign employers.
5. Practice Leaving Your Comfort Zone
Working and living abroad can come at a cost. Your post-MBA international job probably shouldn't be the first time you leave your comfort zone. Being flexible and adaptable is a highly-prized skill for foreign hiring managers.
Make sure you educate yourself about salaries abroad, bureaucratic structures, and cultural customs. Where you can, take on assignments and work with people that you might encounter in your country of choice. The shape and feel of the workday there may look very different from what you're used to, and the more you can adapt, the better.
6. Embrace Your Student ID
Many people get their MBA in their 30s, so they haven't been accustomed to using their student IDs for a while. However, if there's a grace period after your MBA, you might want to research how you can maximize your "student" status for work opportunities.
For example, many countries offer a "working holiday" visa for young people or for recent graduates. These opportunities can serve as great springboards for more permanent work opportunities in a country. If you don't have the flexibility to move somewhere and look for work for a while (and with MBA loans to pay back, that's understandable!), these options can guarantee some income shortly after you arrive.
You can absolutely get a job abroad after getting your MBA, but the earlier you prepare, the better.
Also, make your goals known - to your fellow grads, your favorite professors, your internship employers, and any other connections you make along your MBA path. The louder you can be about moving abroad, the more likely people are to think of you when they encounter work opportunities. For further resources on this subject, check out: