International MBA Applicants NEED to Know This!

Are you an international applicant to a US business school? Do you want a great MBA job and career in the US when you’re done? Great! Angela Guido is joined by our Chief International Officer Charli Taylor to walk you through everything you need to keep in mind as you apply to business school as a non-US applicant.

You’ve got big dreams and we want to help you make them happen! There are just a few more things to keep in mind as you finish those MBA applications. Good luck!

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

The advice that Charli is going to give us today is really about how do you think about applying to business schools as an international, and then once you've gotten in, what do you need to know before you enter the recruiting process? Hello and welcome back to MBA Monday! I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol and today we are talking to all of you international students. Those of you who are crossing borders to pursue your MBA and potentially your post-MBA career. Today I have with me our chief international officer, Charli Taylor.

Charli: Hello, everyone! Angela, so fabulous to be back here with you again. I always love been on MBA Mondays with you! Today also you with the goddess hair. So exciting to be here.

Angela: This topic is one of our most requested topics, and what you're all telling us is: Help! I'm changing countries to get my MBA and potentially also my post-MBA job. What do I need to know? What do I do? So Charli is with us today to answer all of your questions about pursuing an MBA abroad.

Before we hear Charli's super awesome wisdom, take a moment and hit that subscribe button. Ring the bell, as they say, so that you don't miss a single MBA Monday or Make Mondays Better — we are also doing career advice on this channel, and today we're actually going to be doing both. So the advice that Charli is going to give us today is really about how do you think about applying to business schools as an international, and then once you've gotten in, what do you need to know before you enter the recruiting process? Because Charli is also our favorite MBA career coach for our international clients. So, Charli, as folks are thinking about changing geographies, going to a different country for their MBA, what are the things that they really need to be sure they have buttoned down in their application itself?

Charli: Oh Angela, such an important question and it's so exciting for us to talk about this. We know that people who are going off to do MBAs abroad and looking to develop themselves internationally, career-wise, personally, or otherwise are just such incredibly brave souls and a brave soul and a big dream is what we need and welcome here today. And so, starting off with that big dream, it's really thinking deeply about — more so than almost anybody else — right out of the gate is having that real clarity around goals. And one of the wonderful things that we offer, Angela, is that gorgeous career roadmap and career game plan that you've put together for our students. It's an opportunity for people to go really deep and look at what it is they want to do, their values that drive them. And these are things that, even if you're not working with us, think about this really deeply, because it's going to be the basis of the conversations that you have with people. So if you go into these conversations with so much clarity, you are already at the top of the game.

Angela: Charli is absolutely right. Your career goals are for you. They are not for the admissions committee. However, you do really, as she points out, you really have to keep your audience in mind. And so, schools know that international students have fewer options, because not every company will sponsor a visa, and they're competing with equally qualified native speakers and locals of whatever country you're recruiting in. So they know that you're going to have to do a bit more work to get the job that you want. And if you can show them — to Charli's point — you've already done a lot of that thinking, that working, and that networking, they're going to feel a lot more confident enabling you to invest the money you're going to invest in their MBA program, because then they feel confident that you're going to get the return on that investment. They're really looking out for you. They don't want you to come to their country, invest thousands and thousands of dollars, and then be left without a job at the end. They're really thinking about your future so you need to show them that you've also done that thinking. You've done much more thinking than they have, and planning and networking. And this is why, as Charli first said, your career game plan as an international needs to be super tight.

Charli: This is also really important as you're applying. Of course, we never do this for the sake of the adcom. We first do this work for our own clarity, but the benefit is when the adcom really understands that you have that level of clarity, that you've done that homework. It makes your case so much stronger. They know that you're going to also have to work twice as hard to find that placement, and so if you're able to do the networking now, if you have that clarity now, they have faith and confidence in you that you're going to be able to do that in business school and going forward. So that's really one of the first really big things and one of the other things that we want you to think about a lot too, and this is a part of that, your career leap. We talked a little bit about this before in a previous episode, but oftentimes international students may be taking a whole variety of career leaps. They might be crossing functions, they might be crossing industries, and if you're an international student, oh my gosh, that is just making you a triple jumper. And so you really have to have your game plan on.

Angela: Yeah, So for those of you who don't know what a triple jumper is, when we talk about your post-MBA career game plan, you want to think both in terms of what you really want to do and in terms of what is the most feasible path forward, and the right answer is somewhere at the union of those two things. Don't lie. Don't say you want to go down a path that you're trying to get off of, but also don't put forward career goals that are totally unachievable from where you are, plus an MBA. A safe way to go is to change either industry or function, but not both. Add a third dimension to that of geography and you really want to make sure that the plan you're putting forward makes it likely that you're going to be able to make that move. So it's going to be unlikely that a firm is going to hire you in a different geography, a different industry, and a different function because you're just not really qualified yet for that job. So make sure that as you are planning your essays, your personal statements, and your goals, you're thinking really realistically in terms of what you're going to be most likely to be able to achieve post MBA and address that in your personal statement.

Charli: It's so true. They really feel that they have such a duty of care to each and every one of their students. The other thing too that we want to think is that the adcom have a myriad of pressures on getting it right in admissions. That's why they're also maybe a little leery of triple jumpers, but this is where your due diligence comes in. Having as many conversations with people as you possibly can before, during, and after. So even before you get to business school, as you're learning about the schools, also think about this as a wonderful opportunity for you to do informational, career interviews. Connect with people through the career lens, not just getting into the MBA lens. Remember every single person that you connect with, it's not just for admissions into a particular business school, but go in with the mindset that you are creating a community, a network for life. And if you want to know more about how to do that, read Angela's amazing book, How To Network Without Feeling Like An A-Hole. Now that my kid knows how to read that title, he thinks he can say A-Hole all the time. Thank you very much Angela Guido. But it is just a super critical thing that you want to do. And also, if you meet people along the way who have taken a path that you're looking to take, to be able to share that information with the adcom so they know it's not an unblazed trail. It is something realistic and something very possible. It also, more importantly, gives you peace of mind as well, so that’s really important. But I love also this idea of being really flexible, Angela. The whole thing about if you're coming all of this way, keep your mind open and be locationally agnostic.

Angela: Okay. So Charli, as international applicants are applying, I think the message is incredibly clear. They have to really focus in on their career game plans and make sure that they are airtight. We have a ton of videos on this channel. We pretty much never shut up about the career game plan. So check out some of the many videos in the description down below, and then we'll have Jonny link at least one right here, that will take you to career game planning videos because that's essential to your application as an international applicant who's crossing borders and applying to business school. Other than that, Charli, would you agree that pretty much the same rules apply? You need to show that you're a great person, got to have great statistics, you really need to show your authentic self in your essays, you need to be prepared for the interviews, you need to research the schools and show school fit. All the rest is really the same. The one thing that gets a little bit of extra pressure is that career game plan and your employability post MBA, the relevance of an MBA to your goals, and whether or not you're going to get a return on that investment. So let's assume that they followed our advice, they got into business school. Now, what do they need to be thinking about as they're about to begin business school? So you're now making the transition to MBA student. What do internationals need to know?

Charli: Well, one of the really exciting things once you get into business school is you're going to find that the universe just explodes. You come in with a really strong game plan, but you might find that there are things that you never even consider that start opening up. So be a little bit open and flexible as well to possibilities and opportunities, particularly when it comes to locations. You might think, “Oh, I just want to bite of that Big Apple!”, and then you might find that actually the industry pulls you to the sunny climes of California. Be open to that! It's kind of a very exciting part of the adventure. The other bit of this, too, is be open internationally as well. Angela, one of the things that we've seen over the last couple of years all over the world is just how quickly the visa situation can change for international students. Sometimes that has been on the verge of really catastrophic, and sometimes it's been really exciting opening up tons of opportunities. And so it's important that no matter what, we always keep our eye on the ball and at Career Protocol I love one of the things that we do, and that is to really help all of our students, particularly our international students, prepare with a plan B, and sometimes a plan C or a plan D. So in case, they need to make these kinds of shifts or have this flexibility. They've got that in their thinking already. They're empowered and they're responding rather than reacting and that's really important, particularly when we're talking about the visa situation. But it's also very exciting because as an international student, if you want to even gain deeper international experience and you're in B school and you think maybe you want to go and work in Europe, there are some visa challenges to doing that. But go and do international programs, do international exchange programs. We're finding that countries like the United Kingdom that want to attract more international students  more brainpower, and develop those connections to other cultures and countries in the wake of Brexit are opening up really interesting visa pathways. So students who attend really excellent top schools in some countries can gravitate and do some work in the United Kingdom. So you can check out all kinds of options if you're willing to be flexible.

Angela: Yeah so flexibility is definitely the mantra, and it's related to everything that Charli has already said. Companies who want to hire international employees have to deal with a visa challenge. Some companies won't be willing to do it. Others will be willing to do it, but they have to invest a lot, it makes you a riskier hire, and the job that you really want may not be available for whatever reason. Either they don't sponsor a visa or they don't have room in the New York office where you want to sit. So the idea is to look to maximize the return on your MBA investment by:

  1. Getting a job that pays you well post MBA if you need to pay off your student loans.
  2. Sets you firmly on a track for success in the long term, which means teaches you a lot, gives you experience, capital that you could parlay into future jobs after your first job post MBA.
  3. And the third thing that you have to keep in mind is Charli's favorite word, flexibility. The more flexible you can be geographically in terms of where you go, the more opportunities you will find. So if you are moving to the US and you are hoping to be in New York, as Charli points out, so many people do, those are the hardest jobs to get because everyone wants to be in New York. If you're willing to go to Dallas or Atlanta or Minneapolis, you will potentially find even more opportunities that will very well satisfy points one and two. So keep an open mind as you approach the opportunities for your MBA internship and your post-MBA job if you're in a position where you need visa sponsorship and therefore you have more limited options than someone who doesn't need a visa.

Any closing words for these guys Charli?

Charli: Just going back to that theme of being brave souls. One of the really exciting things is in the United States, the international students, kind of by and large, maybe about 30% of the class on average, will be filled with international students. So you have kind of an advantage in some ways, right? That you get this opportunity to really be kind of unique in the crowd and to showcase and demonstrate that you have some really interesting experiences and perspective to bring to the table, not just to the class, but to your future employers as well. Being an international student, my friend, is an advantage. Wave that advantage proudly. It's exciting. And kudos to you for taking this big leap, it's amazing. We need more brave souls.

Angela: And that is why Charli is our Chief International Officer. If you are an international MBA applicant, you are the exact person that Charli wants to work with as a coach. So don't forget if you want to talk to us about working together on your MBA application dreams, and in particular, if you want to work with Charli, which I really recommend if you are pursuing an international MBA, click the link and request a free consultation and ask to talk to Charli. She's not only the expert in international MBAs, she's also one of the top 20 MBA admissions consultants of 2022, in Poets & Quants, because she's awesome. How awesome is Charli? Be sure to leave Charli a comment and thank her for her time today. We just love getting your input on this show Charli!

Charli: Thank you so much. I always love connecting and hanging out with you. You are the best. Thank you.

Angela: Back at you, lady. See all next week!

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder of Career Protocol

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