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International Students Use China as Gateway to MBA Careers

Up to half of b-school grads are staying in China after graduation. Internationals can use scholarship-funded MBAs and MiFs to kick-start a career in the region - all you need is a work visa!

Tue Oct 29 2013

Thousands of students come to China each year – and many of them stay in the country after graduation. Internationals flock to Chinese business schools in greater numbers than ever, with the number of foreign citizens who sent GMAT scores to Chinese universities increasing by 126 per cent over four years.

While some graduates use the country as a gateway into the Asia Pacific region, many have remained, seeking to launch management careers in the world’s most powerful economy. Of China Europe International Business School's (CEIBS) MBA cohort of 2010, 50 per cent decided to stay and look for work in China after graduation.

In 2011, QS Top MBA reported a 19 per cent increase in employer demand for MBA graduates in the country. The region is home to some of the highest-ranking b-schools in the world and graduates from SAIF and CEIBS are enticed by the prospect of working in one of the safest economies in the business world.

In as little as just four days, MBAs could be picking up a visa to work in China - for a small fee. Although warnings were raised about new immigration laws that came into force over the summer, the number of non-Chinese passing through airports, sea ports and land crossings has been increasing 10 per cent annually since 2000.

The Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) is an institution that welcomes international students in great numbers. In 2009, they added full-time MBA and Masters of Finance programs to their repertoire, with a raft of scholarships available for international students.

The main qualities employers are looking for in China are the ability to speak Chinese fluently, followed by work experience in China, the latter taken care of by the internships most MBAs are required to complete at China’s b-schools.

MBAs know the value of diversity and international exposure. While presenting a challenge, learning to speak Chinese is a necessity to stay on after graduation, says SAIF’s Head of the Master of Finance Program, Kevin Mi. “If you want to work in China, you have to learn Chinese,” he said. “But the work experience in China will benefit you for your whole career.

“It might be a challenge adapting to local culture - but it’s very interesting experience.”

Kevin praises the work of the careers team at SAIF for helping international students break into China after graduation. “The career service is one of the best ones in China,” he added. “Upon the completion of the program, the students will have a good understanding of the theories and quantitative methods of modern finance, and how they are applied to real business situations.

“We have a great international study environment, with courses taught by world-class scholars and leading financial professionals.”

With an economy expanding with 7.8 per cent growth, China’s prospects could be considered significantly higher than in the West. The U.S economy managed only 2.5 per cent in the second quarter of this fiscal year, while the UK economy's meagre initial 0.7 per cent growth was hailed as a breakthrough.

China and Singapore boast some of the world’s top business schools and prospective MBAs from the furthest reaches of the world seek to study there. Global MBA Rankings show that five b-schools in China, including CEIBS, are ranked in the top-100 worldwide.

The Chinese city of Shanghai is regarded as the economic hub of the country and MBA students from SAIF enjoy the benefits of a plethora of Fortune 500 companies that offer internships to the brightest business school minds. Many graduates seek to launch a career in Shanghai.

Among the banking giants of Guotai Junan Securities Assets Management and Bosera Funds, some of the highest-ranking businesses in China include tech giants Microsoft and Apple Computer Trading; it is not surprising that MBAs seek to stay in the region after graduation.

Jenny Chen, from the Admissions and Recruiting department at SAIF, says international students are attracted to studying in China for the big market opportunity. “It’s the world-renowned faculty, drawn from both academia and industry around the world,” she said.

“We have a great international environment in the school and the city, with a big market and career opportunity in China - especially in Shanghai. We plan to have an international financial center in the coming years.”

Jenny says that to get onto a top b-school program like the MiF at SAIF, you need to prove your qualities before filing for a work visa. “Candidates for SAIF’s Master in Finance program must have a strong analytical background,” she added.

“You should have high integrity, strong self-esteem, and a powerful sense of social responsibility and ethics.” Qualities, you feel, that most MBAs hold dear.

With up to half of MBA students seeking to stay in China after graduation, a b-school education from an institution like SAIF can act as a gateway for international students to kick-start Chinese careers.

Thousands of students flock to China to study MBAs and MiFs – and many of them never leave.

With an economy creeping to 8 per cent growth and visa laws seeking out senior-level foreign professionals, it is easy to see why.