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What to Think About Once Enrolled on Campus as an MBA Student

What to Think About Once Enrolled on Campus as an MBA Student

You’ve done it! You went through the application process, kept track of multiple deadlines and jumped through the logistical hoops. Now you’re here in the US, about to begin your MBA studies. This can be both an exciting and a challenging time as you deal with cultural shock, figure out ways to earn money during your studies and look forward to new opportunities. Knowing some important topics to think about once you’re enrolled can help you plan and research in advance. This can smooth your path so you can concentrate on your studies and take full advantage of the opportunities now available to you.

  • Handling Culture Shock

    Culture shock is a common experience for many international students. From social interactions to academic style, you are used to a particular way of doing things. Now, all of a sudden, you have plunged into a completely different environment. Expecting and understanding this experience is an important step in making your adjustment period go easier. Different people go through culture shock in various ways. Familiarizing yourself with common types of symptoms is a good way to identify and handle this issue early on. Students often experience culture shock psychologically. You may feel lonely, disoriented, moody or irritable. Even if you speak excellent English, you may feel like you don’t understand the people around you, as if you are missing out on important cues everyone else seems to pick up on. Especially in a large program, it may seem like you are getting lost in the crowd and no one seems to know you exist. You may hesitate even over very ordinary interactions and miss your family a lot more than you thought you would. Some people also experience physical signs. The stress of culture shock can affect your sleep patterns and aggravate any allergies. Random headaches and other seemingly causeless pains can also be signs of psychological stress. If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to understand that they are both normal and temporary. Stressing out over being stressed only creates a feedback loop that can intensify physical and emotional discomfort. Developing support systems in your new environment can make you feel more at home. Attend orientation events and meet-and-greets held by your program or the university’s international student office. This will give you a basic outline of how you can expect things to work and also put you in touch with other international students who are likely going through a very similar experience. You can also build new friend groups based on shared interests. Look for clubs, events and meetings centered on things you enjoy. Many universities provide some types of psychological counseling, which can help if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. At the same time, maintaining familiar friendships and habits can lessen the impact of the transition. Keep in regular touch with friends and family at home. You may also want to look into local communities of people from your country.

  • Focusing on Career Opportunities

    As an MBA student, you probably have a good idea of your ultimate career goals. At the same time, your program can give you the opportunity to explore your options and expand your interests. Now that you are about to begin your studies, it is time to familiarize yourself with some important ideas and resources that can help you define and work toward your goals. Begin thinking about potential opportunities as soon as you arrive on campus. Your university’s career center may be a good place to start. Be sure to speak to the people at the international student office as well as to the career professionals that serve your program specifically. An MBA program that accepts international students is likely to provide resources geared to these students’ needs. Speaking with career professionals about your goals can help them keep you in mind and let you know about opportunities, recruiting events or informational sessions. In addition, you can look out for these things on your own. If you have interest in a particular company, you can reach out for information about internships or other programs it may offer. Networking forms an important part of finding out about available positions or programs. Make sure other students as well as your professors know who you are. Attend events such as special guest lectures, which may feature speakers who work in fields of interest to you. Introducing yourself and asking questions is a good way to put yourself out there. Your program’s alumni can also provide valuable information and advice about potential openings.

  • Pros and Cons of MBA Sandwich Programs

    Some MBA programs offer a so-called sandwich option. The student begins the program, then takes a year to work in a relevant placement, then returns to finish his or her studies. Taking this option can present both advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, you will need to consider your particular circumstances and goals when deciding whether an MBA sandwich program makes sense for you. Participating in a sandwich year placement can help you advance professionally, especially if you are able to get a spot with a company you are interested in. Working with a company for a full year creates a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your qualifications and prove yourself as a serious candidate for full-time future employment. Companies like to hire people they know over complete strangers who may look good on paper but not function well in practice. You may gain access to opportunities that will not be advertised externally. Additionally, you will also get to know the company from the inside. This experience can help you determine whether the work environment and area of focus suit you as well as you had thought. Working for such a substantial amount of time can also give you deeper and more accurate insights than a shorter placement. On the other hand, accepting a sandwich placement can be substantial commitment. Due to timing, it can prevent you from participating in summer internships or other types of short programs. You will gain a deeper look, but it can come at the expense of gaining a broader perspective. This may not present a drawback for you if you are certain about your goals. However, if you are still considering your options, a series of shorter internships or work-study programs may be a better option.

  • Looking into Internships

    Internships help you put into practice the academic knowledge you learn in class. Especially in practice-oriented fields such as business, internship experience is a vital part of gaining necessary skills. Many companies end up hiring from their internship pool, so getting a slot at a preferred company can help you begin your career. As an international student, you may feel you face some challenges US students do not. You may be unfamiliar with American workplace and general culture. You may not have had time to build up an extensive social and professional network. However, you can access resources to overcome these challenges. Check with career and academic advisors at your university about events or seminars aimed at familiarizing students with standards of professional behavior. You may also possess several advantages over other students. Among the companies that look to hire from MBA programs, many have a global focus. Today’s banks, investment firms and other finance companies participate in markets all over the world, in addition to frequently having international branches. Thus, knowing other languages besides English and possessing international work experience can actually make you a preferred candidate. It is important to find internship opportunities that are suitable for you. Get in touch with students who have completed internships you are considering. It is likely that alumni from your school already work at the company and would be happy to talk to you about their experience. Attend recruiting presentations and ask for more information. When you begin applying, make sure your materials are up to par. Career services professionals at your school can take a look at your resume and suggest improvements. Doing some research on specific companies can help you target your application materials to each business’s culture, requirements and priorities. Depending on your type of visa, you may need to apply separately for work authorization in order to participate in an internship. Because timelines on this may vary, begin the process as soon as you can. Speak with your school’s international student services to learn more about what you will need to do. Researching internships, building up a network and completing applications can take a lot of time. For this reason, the time to begin thinking about internships is as soon as you arrive on campus. As you begin your MBA program in the US, you may face many challenges – but you will be able to overcome these hurdles by researching your options and getting support. Planning in advance can do a lot to ease the process. Be ready to reach out for support and take advantage of the many available resources. Check out SchoolApply for more helpful guidance and advice on making the most of your MBA studies.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.

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