Landing Your Dream Job – The Best of Ivan Kerbel (The Sequel)


Would leaving a company for a non-profit like Teach for America hurt my b-school application?

“First, I don’t think you have to stay in one role / company / industry in order to prove that you’re are on a “consistent” career path as an MBA applicant. In fact, if you do pursue a Teach for America (TFA)-like role, it would signal that you’re truly passionate about what you’ve described as your long-term goal. You will undoubtedly have more credibility in stating that you want to pursue your own data-driven nonprofit / social enterprise in the future (using business school as invaluable training to achieve that aim) if you can highlight not only your credentials as a mechanical engineer who has private sector consulting experience, but also as someone who has front-line experience working for a social impact-oriented organization.

The one thing I would be cautious about is spending too little time in either arena. You want to acquire more than a basic sense and appreciation for how a specific field of enterprise works, and to amass a comprehensive set of skills and achieve tangible results in any / all fields of endeavor you pursue. Being promoted within a single company or reaching the next stage of responsibility / seniority in any given line of work is a good sign (from an admissions perspective), and can certainly allay any concern that you’re merely bouncing between experiences without a clear game plan and/or without having achieved what you set out to do in any given sector.

For professionals who are between their undergraduate years and the start of an MBA, anywhere in the range of 2-3 years spent in any one field / company is acceptable, and 1.5 years is o.k. (though on the short side), so long as you’ve completed major projects and assignments, and/or the timing of your next opportunity (e.g., the start of a new school year cycle) necessitates the timing of your transition.”

As an international student, how can I increase my chances of landing a job in my host country?

“In my opinion, one of the better ways for international students to mitigate job-search risk, and to expand the amount of time (# of months) available to secure employment before their student visa status expires, is to pursue a two-year, rather than a one-year, MBA program … it is still the case that most of the former are located in the U.S., while most of the latter are located in Europe.

Two-Year Programs: Quickly: in the U.S. (and elsewhere, including in Europe, where there are two-year MBA programs), there are essentially two-rounds of MBA recruiting (round 1 for internships, after your first full year of school, and round 2 for full-time jobs, after you complete your second year of school and graduate). In the U.S., the F-1 visa (the most commonly-held student visa type) allows a student to utilize “CPT” (curricular practical training, for off-campus employment that is integral to one’s graduate studies and usually covers employment during an internship), and then offers up to a maximum of 12 months, or a year, of “OPT” (optional practical training, for off-campus employment after the student graduates and before he/she transitions to an employer-sponsored H-1B visa, or departs the country). That’s it, in a nutshell, but if you want to delve more deeply, feel free to also Google “H-1B and OPT Cap-Gap extensions”.

In general, having the ability to secure a competitive internship (during year 1) that may in turn lead to a full-time offer, or, if that fails, to have a second shot at obtaining an in-country job via the full-time MBA recruiting process (during year 2) is a boon for job-seeking international students (and for two-year MBA programs), and using the U.S. as a point of reference, even while exploring MBA options in Europe, is probably a good idea for you.

One-Year Programs: While most [European] programs skew towards the one-year format (LBS and IESE are the true exceptions at 21 and 19 months, respectively), it doesn’t mean that shorter-duration / one-year programs lack a summer internship option, but that each program has a tailored means of addressing the topic via ‘summer projects’, ‘corporate consulting engagements’, etc. as opposed to the more traditional, U.S.-style summer corporate internship (a stand-alone experience at an employer organization that lasts anywhere from 8 to 11 weeks).

For each school that you explore, it makes sense to take a close look at whether the summer internship work experience is obtained via a truly competitive recruiting process (managed by companies and designed to generate a pipeline for those employers’ future MBA workforce), or something that is engineered primarily by your school and aligned to fit more closely with the educational experience and select coursework (though these projects too can often lead to employment for students who shine during the facilitated work and/or research partnerships that the schools orchestrate on behalf of companies, NGOs, start-ups, etc.).

If you’re looking for a way to tell whether the summer internship is the former or the latter, the best method is to download the schools’ MBA career stats / employment reports, and to see if they break out an internship class from a full-time class (two separate graduating years), or simply list a single year (one graduating cohort)…

Visa Information: Visa rules can change with legislative seasons, and you should be careful not to rely on outdated information.

Beyond countries’ government websites, there are a number of resources copied below, as well as visa information provided by schools you may be targeting. (Here’s an excellent example of the latter from the London Business School).

For work permit and visa information relevant to specific European countries, see Going Global’s country profile pages (then navigate to “Work Permits/Visas”): Going Global

Last, here [is] a good article (from Poets&Quants) that also highlights the current state of international student migration and job-searching: Still a Slog for MBAs Who Need VISAs

Fitting In: Your task, in the end, is to consider: 1) the financial cost and duration of a target MBA program, 2) the ways in which the structure of MBA recruiting at that program will influence your job search, 3) the most up-to-date information regarding professional graduate student work visas (and path to permanent residency / citizenship, if that’s of interest), and 4) your ultimate ability to transition to and ‘fit’ in with the work culture and society of a given country.

It goes without saying that language, and specifically the extent to which English is a primary or secondary language in a specific country’s workplace environment, will influence your decision. I know that all of the information above represents a significant amount of research and due diligence that you will need to undertake, and that you will likely need to repeat your efforts for at least 2-3 country environments…

The best overall advice I can give you is to think long-term. Beyond merely securing a job and being allowed to stay in-country after you graduate, will you be satisfied with the social, professional, and political environment of your host country? If that’s of lesser importance, then will your skills and experience translate readily to professional opportunities and work back home, in your country of origin?”


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