The process of researching MBAs in order to pick the best options for you can be really overwhelming. There is a lot of marketing talk in face-to-face and online business school presentations. Many of the messages can sound similar, making it difficult to understand how programmes actually differ. How to assess the level of international immersion in an MBA?
Analyse the following features in MBA programmes. Get the facts and figures. This will help you to see beneath the marketing and get the real picture.
MBA classrooms can be full of local students, but they can also bring the world into one place. Some MBA programmes are local or regional. Others aim to build a learning environment which replicates the diversity of the world. Look at the statistics of the class profile and you will find the number of countries/ continents represented on campus. This creates your immediate network.
International MBA faculty
Another immediate network for you is that of the professors. Many MBA programmes have professors from different cultures and countries. Many of them have built academic careers in the West – the birthplace of the MBA, but they still bring a different perspective to their teaching, based on their origin and culture. It is also an asset if professors have taught in different business schools because in this will have exposed them to a richer diversity of students. This naturally increases their international awareness and adds significant value to their teaching. Some MBAs professors come from the business world. The higher the international the score of their company, the better for your learning experience.
Study trips abroad
Business schools expand the immediate learning environment of their campus by taking students abroad. This off campus international exposure can be of varying intensity.
Study trips are usually short visits to international companies in one or several other countries. During these trips, the MBA class, accompanied by a professor, visits companies and meets top managers for presentations and discussions. Company visits are short - up to 3 hours long. Study trips may be between one or two weeks which enables participants to meet about 15 to 20 companies.
Another type of exposure which b-schools provide is internships or international projects abroad. These opportunities can give you more intense communication with one or two companies as you will work on a specific project or as an intern. Some b-schools have their own network of companies abroad. Other b-schools will expect their students to take the initiative and find a foreign company to work for. Both approaches have their pros and cons.
You can actually do your MBA in different campuses, countries and even continents. This is the approach of some business schools which either have campuses around the world or have joint programmes with international partner universities. Such programmes expand your immediate network of international MBA peers and professors. They also immerse you in different cultures for several months or a semester.
Career services can be a great asset to full-time MBAs, because most students are aiming for a career change. Some business schools have a really comprehensive approach to career services. They start working with MBA students from day one on campus. Much of the work is focused on coaching and soul-searching in order to identify the perfect positions and sectors in which each student’s potential can thrive.
Such b-schools have devoted teams of career experts who work a lot with international companies. Not only do they recruit on campus, but they help keep ahead of latest trends in recruitment. This kind of collaboration enables b-school career experts and international companies to take into account what profiles recruiters are currently looking for or anticipate for the future, at that point when MBA curricula are actually being developed.
These are the major factors that contribute to international exposure during an MBA programme, There are other aspects related to the curriculum, but these will require even deeper research on you part. But getting facts and figures on the above will certainly help you to assess whether an MBA can give you enough of an international bent. Just take your time to do your research.