Can I Pursue a Career in Europe After My MBA?

Sep 10, 2013
Tags: Choosing the Right School, School Selection

Maryke SteenkampSubmitted by Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp, director, MBA Marketing & Admissions at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM).

One of the questions I get most when recruiting abroad is “Can I work in Europe after my MBA”? My retort is unequivocally “Yes”. However, there are a few factors that you need to take into consideration when investigating if an MBA can help you in securing a career in Europe.

Download FREE GMATPrepIt is important to look at the location of the business school you are targeting. Certain countries are more open to foreigners than others – you can assess this by inquiring about visa regulations, tax brackets, and so forth. In the Netherlands, for example, we are privileged that the country values and encourages foreign talent to live and work here. Our students can stay for a year after graduation on a “search visa” while looking for a job, and there is a special tax incentive for foreigners to stay and work. Specific eligibility criteria applies, but it does show an open-mindedness toward expats. This differs greatly between countries, so it is prudent to investigate the location of your school.

Another way to ascertain if your school of choice can aid you in a career in Europe is to look at placement results. Statistics should never be read in isolation, however if a school shows a regular pattern of placing a fair percentage of internationals in Europe post-MBA you can be cautiously optimistic that the same will apply to you. We place about 75% of our students in Europe post-MBA – most schools have these figures readily available.

Local language is a consideration. Schools that require you to learn a local language as part of your program probably know that speaking the language would be necessary for placement in the country. Furthermore, certain countries in Europe are much more English-tolerant than others – useful to consider when making your choice. You want to decide if and how much emotional energy you want to spend on learning the local language to live and work.

You need to have feasible career aspirations. Making multiple changes at once (location, industry, salary) can be challenging. Often, getting your European career on track one step at a time works best. When investigating schools, ask to speak to school representatives for a CV assessment. At RSM we always want to discuss your MBA and career aspirations in relation to your profile. This way we can ensure that the MBA can do for you what you want and need. We can also make sure that you have realistic expectations of the program.

A final word of advice I give to all applicants is to speak to alumni and current students of the program. They have lived through the experience and are best to tell you what to expect. Ask the schools to connect you with alumni from similar backgrounds who managed to stay and work in Europe. Connect with current students to tell you what it is like to live in the city and country of the school. If you are bringing over your family, ask to speak to others that did the same and inquire how they settled in.

Finally, be open to options. An MBA program is all about transformation and change. If you are willing to investigate various locations and trajectories for your post-MBA career, you might just be surprised at where in the world you end up!