One of the biggest benefits to getting an MBA is the global exposure most programs offer. My school takes pride in being one of the first programs to require all full-time students to take a trip in either Asia or Latin America. While the travel in itself is amazing, the primary purpose of the trip is to visit companies and present a consulting-style project relevant to the firm’s current business environment. The ability to speak with managers about the issues they are facing and work with them to come up with tangible solutions is priceless.
While the university trip abroad was incredible it only increased my desire to learn more about the global business environment. I wanted to take advantage of being back in school and make up for something I missed out on in undergrad – studying abroad. There are different options for studying abroad – programs taking place over the summer or over breaks, full-semesters, quarter-semesters, etc. Different schools offer different credit levels but most schools have partnerships with other MBA programs. Language is not always a requirement, as a number of programs are offered in English. Additionally, many of the international schools have set programs with 30 or so MBAs from around the world studying together.
The university I decided to study abroad at was one that had a set program. It has provided an incredible networking opportunity to future business leaders across the world as well as valuable insights to how business operates in the host country as well as in the countries of my classmates. The program length was condensed enough for students on quarter systems but included enough long weekends to take advantage of all the incredible nearby sights. I traveled to 10 countries around Europe and went to dinners with students from 15 other nations around the world. I also was able to finish my class work for my MBA sooner than my peers enabling me to start my new job earlier.
Some things to consider with study abroad are the credit hours received at your home university, the costs associated with both school and living expenses and how this fits into your overall career plan. For students looking at a global role it can provide valuable opportunities to connect. Additionally, one should consider the events missed at home including valuable recruiting ones. Study abroad is not for everyone, but for those looking to increase their network and knowledge of cultures and business environments it can be a fun way to take advantage of being a student again!
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2014
University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business)