Read this – from a Yale SOM first-year from China.
And then this – from BusinessWeek, about the hurdles, both legal and cultural, that international students face when trying to find work in the U.S.
Certain career paths are much more open to foreigners wanting to work in the U.S. In general, marketing and brand management are quite difficult to transition to if you’ve never lived in the host country. Branding and advertising require so much on cultural nuances that it’s presumed that an outsider would just sort of suck at that role. Consulting (especially IT consulting if that was your prior background) and certain segments of financial services are more open to international applicants, but you’d better be a superstar. After all, there’s plenty of Americans around to fill the job. Why should they go through the hassle of sponsoring you for the visa? You will need to impress the recruiter with your technical skills (modeling, not programming) and your soft skills too. If you’re too stiff in the interview, or if you don’t get comfortable with the American style – or if you commit a faux pas around personal space or any of the myriad other ways you can blunder in this society – then it’s going to be difficult to convince any recruiter that you’ll fit in, and thrive, in their work environment. (Hopefully everyone already got the memo on deodorant.)
Bschool is an intense experience – you’re shoved into what sometimes feels like a hostile environment with all these Type-A people going a mile a minute. If you’re dealing with language barriers on top of the hectic pace, it can be super challenging and very very stressful.
On top of that, some Americans are pretty darned clueless when it comes to people from other cultures (this guy is a politician in Washington, for criminy’s sake). You’re not likely to deal with people that culturally out of it on campus, but you might – and the rest of America is not the melting pot that your bschool classroom will be.
Be prepared for all aspects of the experience. Yes, the U.S. MBA can be awesome, transformative, completely revolutionary in terms of what it can do for your career and your life. And yet, it’s not the easiest journeys to embark upon (that’s true if you’re an American too!). Eyes open as you walk into this, Brave Supplicant. Do your research, and build a network, and have the right expectations for what it will bring you. And good luck! Of course we hope you get into the school of your dreams. 🙂