Tuesday, April 4, 2017

5 Questions All International MBAs Have Right Now (and the Answers to Them)

When families look back on the generations who came before, it’s always a particular point of pride for a member of the older generation to say, “I was the first person in my family to attend college.” In a world where a master’s degree is the new college degree equivalent, what is holding students back from being able to make this particular claim for themselves?

For many domestic students, the hold-up comes from a financial perspective. For those who’ve grown up outside the US, one very real fear in their mind right now has to do with the prospective employment environment waiting for them on the other side of the degree. Eric Johnson, Director of GCS, addressed some of these fears in a recent webinar, and we wanted to share the answers our office has when it comes to some of the most common questions international students have right now.

1.       What is the current employment for international students?
If you plan to work in the US, upon completion of your program you will need to apply for an H-1B visa. The H1-B lottery is conducted every April where 85,000 visas are distributed. Since graduation happens in May, you may work in the US for nearly a full year on what is called OPT. Of the 85,000 H1-B visas given, 20,000 are reserved for master’s graduates (YOU!). In 2016, there were a total of 40,000 applications submitted by master’s students, meaning the chances of being selected were approximately 50/50. At this point in time, the odds of getting an H1-B visa today are the same as they were a year ago.

2.       What percentage of international students end up employed in the US?
Of the international students who are seeking employment in the US, over 90% of our students get jobs! Obviously an encouraging statistic, but we don’t want to mislead you: the job search is harder for international students but certainly not impossible.

3.       Which companies sponsor at Kelley?
We don’t have a list, and even if we did, it changes from year to year. Of the 100 companies who come to campus, we’d estimate that half of them sponsor. And that’s just counting the people who come to Bloomington to interview. Half of all students land jobs “off campus,” so by no means are you limited to the 50 who sponsor who come here. Whether you choose to conduct your job search off campus or on campus, our overall recommendation we would be to target global businesses who can relocate you if your H-1B isn’t approved. A full list of companies who sponsored H1-B visas last year is available at http://www.immihelp.com/h1b-visa-sponsors/.

4.       What will help improve my chances of landing a job in the US?
The first piece of advice we give would be not to come here looking for any job in the States. Be focused on what it is you really want to do to ensure long-term success in your career. The best thing you can do is to present yourself as the best candidate – which requires that you identify the skills, interests, and values which separate you from other candidates. Then focus on the jobs that value these attributes. Beyond that, be willing to be coached – listen to the advice of the professionals who’ve worked with prior students in your situation. Immerse yourself in US culture in order to be an effective networker – building relationships is the key to landing a job, and most networking conversations are about US sports and pop culture, or the things happening at the university. Finally, try to find roommates from the US, so that you speak English as often as possible, and familiarize yourself with US topics and customs.

5.       What sets Kelley apart for international students?
The biggest factor that sets Kelley apart from other business schools is a partnership called Immigration Bridge. Kelley has partnered with Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP, one of the top immigration law firms in the country, to assist international students and recruiters with matters related to employer sponsorship. They’ll help navigate the waters of the tedious paperwork that comes along with an H1-B visa. Accuracy and timeliness are common factors that can hold up the application process, so to virtually guarantee these are out of the way is a major win. It’s also a great solution to employers who are open to employing international students but don’t want to deal with the paperwork.

Getting an MBA as an international student has always posed a risk, but figuring out how much risk you’re able to tolerate is key in making the final decision about where you end up for business school. While we’ve given some highlights to the most common questions our office receives, the full version of Eric’s podcast can be found here and plays best in Internet Explorer. For any additional questions you may have, please contact gcshelp@indiana.edu