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MBA Job Search: How To Keep Your Expectations in Check

Some notes on how to navigate the job search as an MBA student. EMLYON graduates tell us how to be self-directed to get what you want

By  Ifeatu Nnaobi

Tue Apr 16 2013

Should MBAs relax and wait for the careers services department to hand jobs to them? We take in opinions of two recent graduates on what to expect on an MBA job search. 
It has become notoriously difficult for graduates from non-European countries to get jobs in Europe so we reached out graduates of EMLYON Business School to ask about their views on employment in the French market.
Debarshi Das graduated from EMLYON’s International MBA in 2010 and works for medical device company Abott Vascular as a senior business analyst in Belgium.
Debarshi feels that given the tight immigration and jobs situation in Europe, non-EU students need to prepare well in advance if they are looking to stay in the region after the MBA. 
Prospective students need to first start by investigating the employment statistics at schools they are interested in, paying particular attention to the industries they might enter into.
Debarshi stated that there is a fundamental difference between European business schools and US schools. At European schools, he thinks students played a more active role in the job search. Having said that, Dersha affirmed that everyone in his cohort had good jobs. He said, “Foreigners who hung out in Europe finally managed to get jobs... often using EMLYON alumni.”
A second factor that Debarshi pointed out is the size of the alumni network at each business school and the how this can impact your job search. While the MBA class at EMLYON is small (about 30 students), the business school as a whole is one of France's leading institutions, with top-ranked undergraduate and specialised Masters programmes, with a great alumni network.
Taking EMLYON as a whole, Derbashi said that, “It gives a platform to mix with 100s of international students from the vast range of Masters programs; to learn from collective experience, to attend some very good courses - notably finance, marketing and strategy - to take part in a consultancy project for a real company, and to learn to handle real-life management issues by handling fellow colleagues.
"It does offer exposure to mainly the French job market. Living in Lyon for a year is a life-long experience for most of us.
Kofi Boakye a 2012 graduate, told us that he felt that it was each student’s responsibility to direct their job search and career transition. 
Since Kofi left EMLYON’s International MBA, he has ventured into entrepreneurship running business ventures between the USA and Ghana.
He said that students who believe that they can get a job without speaking French had not done their due diligence well.
He said, “I am not sure why, but some people have the idea they could get a job in France without having good command of the language. This simply screams, 'I did not study the French culture well enough' or acknowledge the fact that an MBA is a pretty American construct and is still a bit foreign to French recruiters”. 
He continued, “One has to be quite self-directed even though the school does offer plenty of networking opportunities. But if your French is weak or have not made the effort to gain some French friends you will be in a tough spot.”
Kofi feels that his class is doing pretty well with close to two thirds either self-employed in the corporate world or in a family business like he is. He explained that people who did their due diligence and were proactive during their studies were able to get jobs without much trouble. 
He cited two examples, Chinese citizen Hu Ziheng who actually had recruiters from Paris reach out to him thanks to a story about him on BusinessBecause. Hu studied French for his undergraduate and lived and worked in French-speaking parts of Africa for a number of years before the MBA. 
He also mentioned Indian national Kamal Middya, another classmate who had 11 job offers from companies in Belguim, France, and the Netherlands. Kamal had worked as an Engineer for Nokia Siemens and targeted his job search towards tech startups. He eventually chose to work for Amadeus in Nice. 
Read more stories about students, alumni and programs at EMLYON Business School, here