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Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm

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Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 17:42
Currently I am in the US Air Force, and this last week I was told that we (the USAF) will be going through a massive reduction in force. So since I have a very good chance of getting the boot so-to-speak (through no fault of my own), I am seriously considering to re-invent myself with an MBA.

My goal is to live/work in Japan, so I figure going to a Japanese MBA program is the best route since I can also work on my Japanese language ability (fairly basic right now).

So my current plan is to start studying for the GMAT now until December, then apply to Waseda, Hitotsubashi, and various other schools Jan 2011, move to Japan Feb 2011 to begin an intensive Japanese language program, and hopefully get accepted for the September 2011 semester. I figure if I don’t get accepted this year it will just give me a chance to finish up the intensive Japanese course (this would also help fill the gap in my work resume), and I could better prepare for the GMAT. The GMAT is my biggest concern since I suck at standardized tests.

My background:
- Graduated from U-Wisconsin Whitewater, BS Physics, GPA 3.5, 1999
- Entered the AF in 1999 as a Physicist, did a lot of contract management.
- Got my MS in Atmospheric Sciences from the Ohio State University, GPA 3.96, 2003
- Transferred from being a Physicist to a Weather Officer, more of a technical manager than forecaster.
- And since then I have had 4 jobs in the AF (Japan, Florida, Australia, Germany) all showing nice career/leadership progression, loads of responsibility, promoted to Major last year, etc.

Now the other thing I am a little worried about is that when I start school Sept 2011, I will be 34 years old? Is this going to be a factor? Am I late to the game?

As for my MBA goals, I would like to focus on Accounting/Finance/Investment banking. I do have some contract/budget management in my background but mainly it’s been leadership experience. So would it be better for me to focus on a management than finance/accounting (since that’s been my background)?

My ideas are still in great flux, this has been a lot to digest in a week, so any suggestions/advice would be most greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Rob
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Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2010, 08:48
Welcome to gmatclub!

With the caveat that my only experience with an MBA comes from conversations and online reading, and that I know next to nothing about Japanese MBA programs; I wouldn't think that your age would be too much of a barrier for business school. From what I have heard, business schools are more lenient on age for those who have been in the military, especially since you got a Masters in there as well.

Regarding the GMAT, is there any particular reason you plan to spend 8-9 months studying for the GMAT? Most people usually spend a maximum of 3-4 months studying, as it can be difficult to maintain motivation for such a long time. Scores are good for 5 years and schools do not usually look down on multiple attempts, so you may want to think about taking it in July or so, with the possibility of taking it again in December.

Following are some great resources to help you think about the test and get started on studying. Good luck!

http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-faq-frequently-asked-questions-about-gmat-75809.html
http://gmatclub.com/forum/nink-s-guide-on-how-to-navigate-through-gmatclub-for-newbies-76938.html
http://gmatclub.com/forum/everything-you-need-to-prepare-for-the-gmat-revised-77983.html
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Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2010, 09:37
I think 34 might be on the older side of an MBA. But I noticed that most other Asian MBA programs tend to have older people - like me! :)

I'm curious about the recruitment for Japanese MBAs though. How many firms hire foreigners? You might want to check that out by calling the program's career office and getting some information on that first. It would be bad if you entered a program and found out that all internationals students went back home after the MBA.
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Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2010, 17:20
Well, I speak Japanese and have worked in Japan a bit. I can tell you going to a top program in the US holds a lot more weight generally ( even with japanese companies) then going to one of the Japanese schools. I am not sure what level your Japanese is, but if it is fairly basic right now you should count on more then a year of Japanese to get college ready. If you plan to apply to a Japanese program(by that I mean the regular japanese students program) ( some schools have English only program like McGillian), you generally need to pass level 1 of the Japanese language proficiency test to be considered for admissions.

Programs will hire foreigners, I have plenty of friends that work as headhunters, in investment bankers and many other fields in Japan, but most speak fluent or at least very good Japanese. (I do know of a few people in banking or accounting that know very little japanese) . I would personally recommend going to an American business school and take Japanese classes in addition to your normal business school course load, then maybe do an exchange in Japan.
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Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2010, 19:09
Hey thanks for all the good info.

Yea, as for taking the GMAT; still have my books on order but once I start tearing through them I should get a good idea where I stand. By the sounds of it 3-4 months seems to be the average study time which is probably what I'll do.

Now the two reasons I am leaning more towards a Japanese MBA program (taught in English) is for the internship (seem most programs offer them) and the language study. I figure it would be much easier to network with companies in Japan if I were there, and also much easier for the language study living in it every day. I'm going to give some of the career placement offices a call to get a feel for where all their students are going as well.

The other question I have is about which type of MBA program? If most of my background has been with people/project management would pursuing a finance/accounting MBA waist my 10 years of work experience? Or should I stick to HR, and general management that better match my background? Also what about leveraging my BS in Physics, or MS in Atmospheric Sci? Is an MBA even appropriate for a person of my background?

Thanks much,

Rob
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Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2010, 21:24
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Since GMATclub helped me a lot, now it is my time to help out someone in this forum.

Rob, I think I am one of the right persons to ansewr your question because I am a 30 years old Japanese guy, working in the Investment Banking Department in a domestic securities firm. Plus I was a career switcher from private banking to investment banking several years back.

My bottom line is that it is not a right choice to seek Japanese MBA degree.
First, Japanese MBA programs are not accredited by AACSB except for Keio, Nagoya and Temple University Japan campus. It translates that most of the Japanese MBA programs don't meet the minimum requirement of what AACSB evaluates. I am not saying that their quality or fuculty of study are inferior in the world but they might be different from what you could learn from AACSB qualified schools.

Second, Japanese MBAs don't increase a chance to land in banking/accounting industry. Japanese companies prefer linguistic ability over MBA. I have a couple of foreign friends working in M&A in demestic I-banks. They've come from different industries such as electronics or telecommunication industry without MBA but they show strong command of Japanese and do some research jobs for their industry. In the meantime, I know there are several Japanese-free M&A bankers or Captal Markets bankers with MBA degrees from US top schools. You can apply to Japanese I-banks in the US after MBA and show your linguistic ability to transfer to Japan headquarters. Regarding accounting firms in Japan, they consider CPA licenses necessary than MBA degree.
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Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2010, 03:48
Thanks much for the good info and your time Yuskay!!! Yea that seems to be the overwhelming opinion.

Now if my ultimate goal was to enter the Japan job market (reason being: my wife is Japanese and would like to move back). Would it be better to do a 2-year intense Japanese language program in Tokyo first? Then perhaps try to get work directly after that in GM or something related to my current background? I feel that going from where I'm at right now (with no MBA, or finance training), the banking realm may be to big of a stretch.

Thanks much,

Rob
Re: Big Career Change -- Planning to do a Japanese FT MBA pgm   [#permalink] 06 Apr 2010, 03:48
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