While overall employment statistics for 2013 MBA graduates paint the most encouraging picture we have seen lately, the picture is not entirely rosy for international students.
As this BusinessWeek article points out, less than half of this year’s international MBAs had secured job offers by March. Nearly two-thirds of 2013’s domestic MBA graduates had secured offers within the same time period.
Though it is certainly possible to secure a job after March, this statistic indicates the unique difficulties faced by international students who wish to work outside of their home country after graduation.
These students must convince employers of their desire to stay and work in a particular country, obtain legal permission to do so (no easy feat), and successfully compete with domestic students who often have more points of connection within a particular company or industry.
As with many business problems, diligent preparation and networking are the best tools available to international students and the best guarantors against unemployment.
The following preparations can be immensely helpful for current MBA students:
– Define your interest in a particular country. Typically, international job seekers cannot afford to be vague.
As early as possible, define your reasons for staying in a particular country instead of returning to your home country or living elsewhere.
What about that country is compelling to you, and what do you hope to gain from living there? As much as possible, avoid broad, idealistic generalizations and focus instead on your professional and personal goals and how a country’s business and political climate can foster those goals.
– Seek mentors familiar with your situation. Look for professors who have an international background and drop by their office hours.
Seek out older students from your country or similar regions, and ask their advice on the job search. Research local companies and business leaders who have hired international graduates in the past.
Constantly seek to connect with others who would be familiar with the challenges international students face, and do not let those connections end with brief, one-time meetings.
Be frank about your hopes and challenges, follow-up with an email or a phone call and stay in touch.
Such connections can turn into fulfilling mentorships that can help you navigate everything from job fairs to visa requirements.
– Define the unique strengths of your international background. When meeting with employers, you will need to emphasize why your international background could make you an asset to their organization.
Make a list of how your background has shaped you and how that sets you apart from other candidates.
Perhaps you are multilingual, perhaps working in your home country has taught you to adapt to particular political or economic circumstances, or perhaps your experience as an international student has helped you to relate and work with many different cultures.
Whatever it is, be as specific as possible and back up your claims with tangible examples from your previous work experience.
– Network, network, network. Networking is important for every job seeker, but it is particularly crucial for international students entering a business community with few connections.
Attend job fairs, follow up with emails and phone calls, seek out meetings, talk with students and professors, work with your campus career center, and pursue any family or other personal connections within the industry you are interested in.
Do these things early and often- you might be surprised by what you find.