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Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools

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Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2010, 14:47
Can anybody offer any feedback on the pros and cons of earning an MBA abroad? I just need a little help thinking this through. So far, I'm most concerned with the trouble I might have finding a job in "The States" upon completing the foreign program.

A little background on me. I'm an American interested in earning an MBA at a foreign school. I'm most interested in French schools - namely HEC, ESSEC, Grenoble and EDHEC. My primary motivation for seeking a foreign MBA is my desire to work for a large multinational firm and have a career that involves a fair amount of international travel. I also really want to learn French and study business in a true internationally focused program with truly diverse student body.

However, I'm concerned that finding a job in "The States" may be more difficult with a foreign earned MBA. I'm from California, I live in Hollywood, I work in the media industry and I ultimately want to stay in the media industry and live in either LA or NYC.

Lastly, I will be living in Mexico for the next 15 months doing some financial consulting work as a independent contractor. I'm planning to become fluent in Spanish during this period.

In your opinion will I really be in that bad a shape seeking a job in "The States" if I have an MBA from a solid foreign program, I can hold conversations in either French or Spanish, and I have 3.75 years of experience (in corporate finance)? I only went to an average state school for undergrad and earned average grades (i.e. 3.0, I'm not sure how relevant that is, but I'm throwing it out there for the sake of full disclosure).

Is anybody else wrestling with similar issues?

Any thoughtful feedback will be appreciated.
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Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2010, 23:35
That's a good question, well, If you're interested in French schools, make sure to target the TOP tiers i.e. INSEAD & HEC, as both are very well known for the big companies in US.

However, I don't think it's easy to learn a new language i.e. French during your MBA study, Why? Well, firstly you won't have time as MBA is really a high demand program (specially in top tiers), and secondly, you will be studying in an English environment i.e. your tutors, colleagues,..etc all are English speakers.
Otherwise, you could choose the option of studying MBA in French, however you should be good enough to understand and communicate in French during the whole program.

To sum up, pros are:
-Have an access to the big French multinational firms
-Studying business in a high diverse program
-Get a big chance to stay & work in Europe - who knows...

The cons on the other hand, I would say:
-French BS alumni are not very strong in US

Good luck...
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Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 10:44
Warrak,

I want to be a truly international business person. One that doesn't just travel and get by, but one that is capable of communicating in foreign languages and is an expert on foreign customs (at least in the places I'm doing business).

With respect to language, French is the second most widely spoken language in the business world next to English, it's the operating language on many multinational organizations (e.g. UN), and it's relatively easy to learn (as compared to say Mandarin).

I suppose Mandarin would be a great language to learn too, but I'm more interested in doing business in the North America, South America, Europe and Australia, thus, English, Spanish, and French are the languages most critical for me to learn.

I'm moving to Mexico for a year to learn Spanish, the next logical step would be to go to a international school where there will likely be a lot of Spanish speakers and where I can learn French. Also, every French program I'm looking at requires students who can't speak French to take French lessons. Though the programs are taught in English, I'm certain there will be ample time to associate with native French speakers and build a French language foundation that could easily be built upon after the conclusion of the MBA.
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Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 12:33
GLookup wrote:
Warrak,

I want to be a truly international business person. One that doesn't just travel and get by, but one that is capable of communicating in foreign languages and is an expert on foreign customs (at least in the places I'm doing business).

With respect to language, French is the second most widely spoken language in the business world next to English, it's the operating language on many multinational organizations (e.g. UN), and it's relatively easy to learn (as compared to say Mandarin).

I suppose Mandarin would be a great language to learn too, but I'm more interested in doing business in the North America, South America, Europe and Australia, thus, English, Spanish, and French are the languages most critical for me to learn.

I'm moving to Mexico for a year to learn Spanish, the next logical step would be to go to a international school where there will likely be a lot of Spanish speakers and where I can learn French. Also, every French program I'm looking at requires students who can't speak French to take French lessons. Though the programs are taught in English, I'm certain there will be ample time to associate with native French speakers and build a French language foundation that could easily be built upon after the conclusion of the MBA.



I think if you earn a foreign MBA, you want to get your immediate post-MBA experience through that foreign country and aim for a well-known international firm. After a couple years there, where you graduate doesn't mean as much and you can come back to the states. The problem with doing international school and immediately coming back to the states is that the US is too US-centric. Even if the school is in the same tier, it's usually not weighed the same in the US. Frankly speaking, we just have too many good school in the US to care about foreign schools and where they rank.

Also I would say the US is probably more MBA obsessed than european and asian counter-parts so we also very dense in MBA programs so it's harder to break in with a foreign MBA.
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Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 14:12
@Go Bruins I feel you, man. The US is very nationalistic when it comes to MBA recruiting. However, I'm shooting for large multinational firms post grad, I'm hoping such organizations will be more progressive in their MBA selection process.

My background is Media/Entertainment, thus, upon returning to the states I'll only be seeking work in the largest DMAs located in either California or New York (e.g. NYC, Los Angeles, Bay Area). I also plan on networking my ass off from France using everything from cold calling to social networking. I'm from the Bay Area and have lived in LA for the last five years -- I have plenty of contacts in both locations too.

I don't know though. It's a gamble. I'll more than likely end up applying three top U.S. programs, three top French programs, and one safety U.S. program. I'll end up going to the school that has the right balance of fit, curriculum and brand recognition.

My shortlist at the moment is:

French Programs:
HEC
ESSEC
EDHEC

US Programs:
NYU - Stern
USC - Marshall
Tie between Cornell, Yale & Dartmouth
Fordham (Safety)

Bottom line if I get into HEC, I'm going. The only other choice that even remotely entices me more than HEC is Stern.

Fordham and EDHEC are probably the best fits for me when I consider curriculum and location. Unfortunately we live in a brand centric world, where what you know is trumped by where you learned what you know, and who you know is more or less dependent on where you went too.
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Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 18:41
I'm curious, if international French schools are of interest why have you not listed/considered INSEAD ? Although the teaching is in english, you are still required to know 3 languages and you are still living in France where you can practice away with the locals. Plus your peers will be every bit as international(and perhaps more so) than from the other French schools
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Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 22:08
@BSD I didn't mention INSEAD because after doing some research on the program, I just didn't feel it was a very good fit for me. Sure, INSEAD has a great "name", but the curriculum was not particularly appealing to me (especially the lack of media related electives), the 10 month length seems like a very short window to thoroughly cover all the courses the INSEAD program requires, and though I'm interested in learning French, I'm not particularly keen on their language mandates.

On a far less relevant and purely anecdotal note, it seems that people applying to INSEAD are more likely to be arrogant, condescending, narrow minded aspiring VC/PE/IB/MC douchebags. I'm basing this solely on my interaction with people here, at similar forums and the people I've met in person who were seeking admission to INSEAD or similar "Ultra Elite" programs.

I'm sure there will be a degree of the above at every top school, but INSEAD (and a few other "Ultra Elite" programs e.g. Stanford, Harvard) just seem to attract a more money and power crazed demographic that doesn't seem too see care about MBA programs beyond their brand names and that brand names ability to aid them in breaking into or moving up on Wall Street or breaking into Management Consulting.

IME, elite, but not "Ultra Elite" schools, such as HEC, NYU, Cal, and Cambridge, have seemed to somehow attract a slightly more down to earth and diverse (i.e. diverse with respect to their interests and ambition at least) demographic.

Of course, I could be dead wrong about the type of applicants INSEAD attracts, but the above represents my gut feeling.

Please feel free to chime in -- I'd like to know your thoughts on the matter.
Re: Pros and Cons of Americans Earning MBAs @ Foreign Schools   [#permalink] 02 Apr 2010, 22:08
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