Understanding local business culture is crucial for anyone wanting to develop their career in the United States. A US MBA can be the ideal way for internationals to improve their chances of gaining a job in the country.
Georgetown University McDonough School of Business prioritizes the integration of all students into business cultures around the world, and for its international students, the US work culture is the first one they tackle.
Finding MBAs Internships is just one of the ways they provide support.
McDonough has a 42% conversion rate from summer internships into full-time employment within the total MBA class. The school enjoyed a record MBA employment rate in 2018 with 98% of internationals within the MBA class receiving job offers within three months of graduation.
Sri Ryasam (pictured below, right) is a perfect example of a McDonough MBA whose internship in investment banking led directly to his dream job with the same company. In fact, nearly 22% of the 2018 McDonough class found employment in financial services after graduating.
Originally from Hyderabad in India, Sri had a multinational background in consultancy and wanted to pursue an MBA to make the jump into finance.
He was after an MBA that would maintain international exposure in a financial hotspot, and aid his hard and soft skill development, specifically in the areas of analytical thinking and leadership. “Georgetown McDonough ticked all of those boxes,” he explains.
Sri was thrown into the deep end of the banking pool during his internship, which could be why, after applying his MBA classroom knowledge fast, they offered him a full-time job upon its completion.
He explains that the hands-on approach of his internship, evident through group projects, frequent presentations, and interactions with colleagues at all levels within the company, created the perfect opportunity to kick-start his career switch.
Adding that the internship “provided an understanding of the nuances of American work culture in practice, which was invaluable.”
During the program, McDonough incorporates international students into the business culture of the United States through multiple tailored events which Sri highlights, along with his internship insight, as crucial in gaining employment in the US post-MBA.
There are international boot camps, which aim to educate on the art of networking in the US through practical experience engaging with valuable contacts. As well as workshops on cover letters and resumes, which help to teach students how to present themselves in the best possible light within the American market. Sri found both to be particularly useful.
McDonough also connected him with other international students immediately, even prior to Sri applying, which allowed him to learn about the MBA experience and the recruitment process from those who had already experienced it. Sri mentions that this support had a big impact on him choosing the school.
The strong international community, which makes up 29% of the full-time MBA class, means that there are lots of student-initiated events that link international students to one another and the wider US culture, whether it be sport or food, he continues.
The annual International Festival held at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, which celebrates the diverse mix of cultures at the school through food, dress, and dance, attracts more than 300 MBA students and family members each year.
However, being an international MBA in the US is not without its challenges. Maureen Carpenter, assistant dean of MBA careers services at McDonough, identifies one of the biggest difficulties international students face as being a lack of openness from American employers towards their candidacy.
“Right now, there is uncertainty with regards to immigration and one thing employers do not like is uncertainty,” she says.
However, she continues, the school highlights prospective employers with a history of recruiting international students to its MBAs. Often internships transform into full-time positions because risk has been everted; employers have seen first-hand how suited the international MBA is to the company.
“You have to tell your story and express your value ad,” she explains. “First, sell yourself and establish yourself as an asset. Tackle the visa question last.
“Never open an interview with ‘do you sponsor?’ because it’s easy for employers at that point to say ‘no’ because you haven’t built up a relationship. This is part of why internships are so valuable at establishing career opportunities, a working relationship has already been established."
Maureen adds; “Every employer will make an exception for the right candidate.” You have to present yourself as that candidate, she says.
While many international MBAs are successful in landing a job in the US after graduation, Maureen says candidates have to think realistically and creatively about how to gain the most value out of their program.
“A successful and useful strategy for internationals is to apply to large multi-national firms. That way, if they don’t gain a position in the US immediately, they have the opportunity to transfer in the future,” she explains.
“Our priority is to help guide MBAs path to their long-term career goals.”