Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Being an International MBA- The Conferences

While reading this article, the first and foremost thing that I would like you to do is: Do not expect a job out of any of these conferences. On the leeway side, what I would like you to do is: attend these conferences (at least one of them) because these are the pathways to a huge reservoir of network that you potentially can exploit for your career goals later on.

NBMBA: Most of the internationals prefer the National Black MBA Conference which is huge. It is grand, it is magnanimous. You will walk a lot and tire a lot but you can potentially make good contacts during this conference. Most of our batch mates, especially internationals did make their presence felt and one will also find students from all different colleges across the United States. So, it is not just an opportunity to connect with corporate but also an opportunity to get to know your counterparts from other colleges. Speaking about the companies, one can find them all- from Coca Cola to Mercedez Benz to Microsoft- they are all out there.  What I loved was the energy in the environment. We were totally soaked in that and really did not want to come back to college. In each of these company booths, there will certainly be people from each department. So, you like marketing, go and talk to the marketing guy in the booth. You strike a chord with them and they keep your resume which usually goes to a dustbin later, you may ask for their email id or a business card (which half of them will deny not carrying one) , go back home and send a small thank you note to all of these people with whom you have ideally spend 5 minutes or so, same as thousands of other candidates must have and they too must have sent their thank you notes. God save the poor guy whose inbox will be bombarded with all the thank you notes and tons of requests to help them get them the job !

Apart from the NBMBA, there are the National Hispanic MBA, the Asian MBA and the  National Women MBA. While one can find similar gamut of companies in the National Hispanic MBA and quite a lot in the Asian MBA, the National Women MBA was a tad disappointing as there weren't many firms in the conference this year. Besides, the energy levels were not awe inspiring. However, for just a $25 registration, one can't ask for more.

The paradox: Think putting yourself in that seat. Are you even going to look to those thousands of emails? Some of them may reply to you and if you have a different kind of spark, the connection might just work out. One valuable contact is worth of an effort. It is not about just making the contact, it is about maintaining the contact. Concepts similar to acquisition rate and repeat rate in business. What drives you then ?

One of the two things:

1. Rehearse your elevator pitch again and again so that you look confident to present yourself properly to those executives because your first impression does matter.

2. The passion that you have for a particular job or an industry so that you can talk over it for hours together if required. Read a lot because knowledge helps here.

And the last thing. Now, do not get disappointed when I say this but it is very practical. If you are an international, you will get to hear this 9/10 times, "Sorry we do not sponsor internationals" and you will walk away.

The good part is that- you will have tried hard and learnt a lot. It is a different kind of an experience from the recruiting process in Asia.

The difference: The thing that we find here different as compared to Asia is that back in our home country, when you are graduating from good colleges, companies will line up for you. 

It does not matter if you know finance or operations, a candidate will apply to all job openings and companies will then filter you out based on numbers. If you hold a 8.5+ GPA and a GMAT score of 740+ and are you from IIT ? you make it to the interview room and get pounded with "are you IIT top 100 or top 1000" or an "IIT Kanpur or IIT Roorkee" and bumps into you a question with all puzzles and numbers. Ethical questions and Pressure cooker scenario. It is all out there. In the end, it does not count if your background in a power major operations, you can still make it to the Finance world or a marketing paraphernalia.

Here, you will have to make the moves to understand the company, understand the job that you are interested in. Talking to people in that company and that role thus helps. Yes, most of us (like me) are shy. But then, this is MBA and shyness is not an excuse.  Do understand one thing- relationships are not made in a day. One needs to be in touch through days and months. You may have to talk with no reason (personally I have never done that and still feel awkward) but when time comes, be ready to deliver value and material in what you speak. Knowledge is important but more important is your intent to learn about the job and purpose of your application. Again, what guides you is your passion and quality and what gets you the final offer is your connection with the panel.

Be more open: There are ways in which one can have a positive energy around themselves and connect well with people. In my batch, I probably am the most silent fellow but there are others who do a lot of different and interesting stuffs. Student life is good in here and I am sure you will love it. Come and explore, exploit opportunities in sports, club activities etc. and be open to learn and discuss. I believe one will be great. We have happy hours every week. If you are a soccer fan, you can try out the indoor soccer stadium here. Night life is cool in Dallas and there are a number of places to go to. Just be open and I believe, you will have the best time of your life.

To end with: Finding a job is the most difficult part and especially coming from a different culture altogether, it gets a bit more tougher. It is important to make the right connections with the right people in the right role in the right firm. Backed by an inherent passion and an approved interest, thoughtful insights and a deep knowledge will help you get a long way in your job search and your life as a whole.

I will be back next time with a small article by someone who can speak well about "inside the financial world" at SMU COX. Till then, Thanks !

Friday, February 5, 2016

Being an International MBA - Part 1

Hi there. I am writing this post after a really long gap but I thought this might help aspiring MBA candidates to get a better insight into the life of an International MBA, not confined to SMU COX but in general. In my experience through interaction and exposure, I have realized a few aspects which I have put in here. Hope this might help.

1. The cultural differences: I guess this is majorly the first challenge that all internationals have had to face while making a choice of stepping out of their own soil. Just like in cricket, you go to Australia and face the bounce and skid, in England you face the swing and in India, its majorly about exploiting the cracks, it is similar for an MBA student tuning himself up with the culture of the new place. About USA, its very framework is built on people drawn from various parts of the world and Asia today contributing to 40% of its growth. USA accepts you as you are. Well ! It might take some time but just be there, you will be fine. As one of the instructors very well put it down, it follows a curve where there is a crest and then a trough but the wave stabilizes in some time. 

2. Communication barrier: One of the things that will help you overcome this is your allotted study group. A few of my friends in my study group have helped me understand their style of communication better. The words that you write in your thank you notes to professionals, the words that you speak while talking to people around you and how you design your cover letter and resume, it is a very different ball game. The faster you learn that, the better you will be. I am still learning and my friends are helping me in that. Having said that, you can always reach out to your colleagues from the US and be open to learn and rectify the mistakes that you might be making.

3. Put weight on your work experience: Hunting for a job is a tough ask for an international MBA student here, especially with the policies of H1B and STEM degrees. It is a serious factor while considering where to put in your application. Secondly, the companies do put in a lot of importance to the skills that you carry forward. Some of the skills that all of you will carry forward in case you are from an engineering background are- technology, analysis, manpower management, data. It is important to identify what sets you apart. For internationals, numbers and statistics in your resume play a major part in showing the visibility of your work experience. In simple words, a guage to measure performance. Concentrating and putting your efforts early in your job search is important.

4. Networking: One of the jargons you will hear a lot about is "Networking". I am still trying to figure out the fundamentals of this word as many others are. Communication engineers can relate some of it. Just replace the machines with people and probably it will sound much better. Personally, I have seen the ones who are driven by passion for an industry and spending hours behind expressing his passion through effective communication to have not even get to an interview room. On the other hand, there are the ones who have done nothing and failed. I put my thrust behind finding the right people to talk to and an effective communication. Besides, if you are driven by passion, you can't hold your tongue back. So, I guess I am not the right candidate to answer this.

5. Finding the right companies: One, not all companies sponsor for internationals. This will come as a setback to all those who are interested in automobile industry but hardly a few companies do hire internationals. Some of them are Tesla motors and Harley Davidson. But if you are open to explore the financial side of the automobile industry, Toyota Financial Services and Mercedez Benz might be the choices. Speaking to the Techies out there, it might not be the best choice for you to be at Dallas and think of a dream job in the Silicon Valley. First, Silicon Valley doesn't see if you are an MBA or not. They put more weight on your skills to build. Second, Silicon valley puts weight on your relative work experience for international MBAs. Facebook might have been the place where I would have gone to but come the final round and I was facing the chin music against experiences of 7-8 years. For people from Asia, Tech consulting should be interesting but you might prefer to try other fields as well. Honestly, I have not seen many consulting firms hiring for technology consulting roles from Cox.

In this article, I have touched over a few points and I will continue this thread with highlights on Marketing and Finance which is a major concentration in SMU COX and you have a lot many companies in the campus recruiting for these roles. Talking about Happy Hours and social life, I may not be the right person to write anything on that but I will try finding the write person to talk to you over it. Cya then until the next article !