Today’s post isn’t actually about applying to get in.
It’s about what will happen when you get out.
Let’s assume that everything goes according to plan, and you’re successful with your applications to an American business school this year.
That means you’re going to be graduating in May or June 2022.
Sitting here in early summer-ish of 2019, that may seem like forever away – and actually, it is.
There will be SO MUCH that’s different in the world by the time your graduation date comes around.
We referenced this in passing in our predictions post recently, where we talked about how competitive (or not) this just-starting admissions season is likely to be.
And nothing in today’s post is meant to dissuade you from applying this year. It’s just about going into everything with eyes wide open. With a long-term plan.
Everybody knows that the current U.S. presidential administration has adopted an anti-immigrant stance. This has already affected things like visa lotteries for H1-B workers (international citizens in the U.S. for employment) and it’s affected U.S. tourism. Now it’s affecting U.S. farmers because of ridiculous, unnecessary and ineffective tariff controls (don’t just ask EssaySnark about it, ask any economist who is not seeing the world through a politicized lens).
These policies have already caused many American corporations to scale back their programs for assisting international employees with the green card process. It’s changed the way employment visas (H1-B) are awarded, and affected employability for spouses of workers here on an H1-B. It’s in flux and it’s had an impact on people’s lives.
These changes make employers wary of risk. It’s costly and expensive and may end up being an absolute waste of time and money for an employer to hire an international applicant for a position in their U.S.-based company, compared to the simplicity of hiring an American. The American business schools are already reporting more large employers only being willing to hire international students for their ex-U.S. operations, and smaller companies like startups being nervous about hiring internationals at all due to the expense and complexity.
And of course, we have no idea what will happen with the U.S. Presidential election in November 2020. If the current administration gets another four years in office, it’s pretty much guaranteed to become even more restrictive. It’s highly unlikely that the other party will win both houses of Congress so regardless of who is sitting in the White House, it’s going to be an exceedingly contentious government environment and we cannot imagine it will turn pro-immigrant with the current generation of conservative Senators holding power. The only way we can predict a real shake-up is if there’s a total economic collapse, similar to what happened in 2007 and 2008, which actually is quite possible given the incompetence on display at the helm today (see above re tariffs as just one example). But if there is such an economic meltdown, that’s not going to result in a loosening of policies or a return to an environment of welcoming differences in the U.S. It’s more likely than not to cause more of a hunkering-down among the public, since financial collapse makes everyone fearful and guarded.
Even if America were today being governed by adults, our current economic expansion is setting records for longevity and as they say, what goes up must come down. So it doesn’t matter if you’re an international applicant or an American, it’s likely going to be a tougher job market for you when you’re spit out with your shiny new degree. The value of an MBA is resilient and even though you may go through some rocky patches, you’re likely to end up far better in the long run than if you didn’t seek the MBA in the first place — but be warned. Those rocky patches can be exceptionally difficult to deal with when they’re happening in real time.
For many MBA grads of the Class of 2008, when the last downturn was just starting to be felt, the experience was of employers rescinding offers that had been made and accepted. This meant that students who thought they were headed off to their dream jobs high and dry right when graduation dates approached — well after the recruiting season had ended. If you’ve accepted an offer from an employer in the summer after your internship, and then all through the fall, the stock market takes a nose dive of historic proportions, and the economy gets so frazzled that the government intervenes, and the company you thought you were going to go work for puts a freeze on its hiring, and then gets even more spooked as the economy further falls apart, well, that company might cancel its agreement to hire you. And guess what? Not much you can do about it.
If you’re going to bschool with a dream of starting a company, then economic pressures could mean that the fount of VC money starts to dry up. (It will at some point. We recognize that we’ve been doom-and-gloom saber-rattling about this for, oh, five years now, but honestly, it really is some day going to happen.)
This recent news — that the Class of 2019 of college students benefitted from the best job market in years — actually forebodes the opposite for those planning to be in a future class.
This year may be easier to get in, for the reasons we discussed before. If now is the right time for you to go get an MBA, by all means, go for it now!
But as you’re thinking through your career goals for the purpose of planning your MBA admissions essays, please give some real thought to those goals. Don’t do it solely for the purpose of coming up with good goals for an adcom reader to see. Make it an actual exercise in reality, and consider what you will do if the economy tanks when you’re in mid-stride of getting to where you are headed.
This is basic risk analysis and mitigation stuff, which you (hopefully!) also will be learning about in bschool, but which would be wise to apply to your life today, as you plan and prepare for this very big undertaking.
Many of you have only ever worked in an expanding economy; you graduated in 2014 or so, and you’ve seen improving employment, and some pro-employee policies in your companies, where management values its people as an important part of the company. Having been through multiple economic contractions now and lots of companies going through the pain of layoffs, we caution you to understand that the world you live in now is not how the world always will be. Plan accordingly.