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Asian MBA graduates: Here’s how you can find a job abroad

SOURCE: Loic VENANCE/AFP
Finding a job abroad has its challenges, but one MBA admissions consultant and career coach shares some tips to make this a reality.


By Yasmin 

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Finding a job abroad is challenging on many fronts, especially if you don’t know where to start or don’t have any industry contacts. The same can be said for MBA graduates who aspire to have international work experience and expand their horizons. 

Picking the right location is an important consideration for many. While the US has long been an attractive option for MBA graduates, the tide is turning.

“For decades, American programmes have got the lion’s share of international MBA graduates – with a big proportion hailing from China, India and other Asian countries,” said Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball and Careerizma, via an email interview with U2B.

MBA graduates
Sameer Kamat is the founder of MBA Crystal Ball and Careerizma. Source: MBA Crystal Ball

“While the halo around American business schools has faded significantly in the last few years, primarily due to the visa uncertainties, it continues to draw in a considerable number of Asian applicants.”

Some candidates, however, are put off by the lack of clarity on how the H1B and OPT (Optional Practical Training) related policies might change. For these individuals, some of the other countries that are appealing include Canada and the UK. 

The H1B is a visa programme allowing US companies to temporarily employ foreign graduates in specialty occupations. It has a duration of three years. 

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Conversely, the OPT is a student visa extension which allows eligible international graduates to work in the US for up to 12 months after completing their studies. STEM majors get an additional 24 months. 

An analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that the denial rates for H1B petitions have increased significantly, rising from 6% in FY 2015 to 24% through the third quarter of FY 2019 for new H1B petitions for initial employment.

“To put this in perspective, between FY 2010 and FY 2015, the denial rate for ‘initial’ H1B petitions never exceeded 8%, while today the rate is three times higher.”

Attractive countries for Asian MBA graduates

MBA graduates
Singapore has enjoyed a good reputation among Asian students looking for quality education at a reasonable price. Source: Roslan Rahman/ AFP

Sameer, who has an MBA from the University of Cambridge, notes that Canada already has a favourable post-study work permit policy that international students find attractive. 

For instance, with a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), international graduates can work in Canada for a period of up to three years, provided they meet the requirements. The UK currently has a two-year post study work visa in place.

The MBA admission consultant said another big concern for Asian students is the exorbitant tuition costs in the western world. 

“For that reason, Singapore has enjoyed a good reputation among Asian students looking for quality education at a reasonable price. We’re also getting an increased interest from applicants who want to study in Germany,” said the MBA admissions consultant and career coach.

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Improve your chances of securing a job abroad

Sameer said, “As with business school admissions, recruitment is also about ‘fit’. Regardless of the size of the company, it’s up to the student to highlight the right skills, enthusiasm and fit with the role.”

To improve their chances of finding a job abroad, MBA graduates can do several things:

Step 1

“The first step in the process would be to choose the right MBA programme in the right country. Don’t get swayed by rankings,” said Sameer.

“Look at the other factors that would affect your odds of getting good opportunities. For instance, attending a top ranking programme in a country that doesn’t have many MBA job opportunities would mean, you’d have to return home with a big debt.”

Step 2

“The second step would be to research market trends. Reach out to current students and recent alumni to find out the ground realities of finding a job in a new country where you don’t have an existing network,” he said.

“During the MBA, find ways to grow your network in your target industry. There may be several opportunities that aren’t advertised. Brush up on your soft-skills and interpersonal skills. Being proficient in English isn’t sufficient. Getting immersed in an international programme is a great way to gain cross-cultural exposure.”

Ultimately, despite the challenges that come with finding a job abroad, there are opportunities for MBA graduates to build an international career with some careful planning.