What do Business Schools mean by ‘International Experience’ ?

MBA is one of the most sought after courses after completion of graduation by students globally. And why should it not? It has all the glamour to lure students, be it a whole lot of career opportunities, mega salaries, super career booster, or ‘fame-and-name’. But to get all of these you need to travel a long and difficult road to get into those ‘magic business schools’ and fight cut-throat competition to prove yourself exceptional and different from the herd. Now, what is this ‘long and difficult road’ made up of? 

So, to get into a top-notch business school, there are various essentials that a candidate should know and be competitive in, which are GMAT, work experience, and personal values of an individual. Today we are magnifying a small element of this ‘work experience’, which is now evolving to hold greater importance, ‘International Experience’. Many top business schools explicitly mention it as a requirement like Insead, London Business School, HEC Paris, and many more in the queue. But why is it so important and what it really means?

Why is international experience important?

While an international experience is not a prerequisite to MBA applications, it does add value to them by broadening your perspective, making you more adaptable to different people and cultures, and changing your outlook to the future and to the world. Because when you mingle with individuals who have altogether a different thought process, mindset, opinion, who have grown up with different values in a different environment, you get acquainted with a ‘different’ world. You learn that the way you have perceived something all your life can have another angle to it, which sometimes can even baffle your own thought process and there’s a possibility that you will feel challenged. But one grows when one is challenged, when one’s thought process is challenged. This is how you develop a new perspective in life. Not only this but you also acquire a new skill set, more maturity, better communication, adaptability to new things, and knowledge of a different world. 

How does it matter to business schools?

International experience adds value to your profile but why is it so important to pursue a course, an MBA degree?

To ‘fit’ in: In global business schools, you will see students from all the sections of the world. In such a multicultural environment we sometimes lose our own self or the other times grow indifferent to those different from us. Thus, if we already come from a space where we have experienced it all, we can much easily adapt and ‘fit’ in these schools with more empathy and understandability to other groups. 

To instill growth in the system:  A business school is a community of students from all across the world, where they engage in constructive debates, exchange of ideas, and exchange of values,  thus contributing to the growth of this community in totality. Now what happens is when one is not familiar with this multicultural setting, one may get overwhelmed with this newness,  and become under-confident, shying away from speaking out and contributing to these exchanges   thus failing the whole system. That is why gaining international experience is becoming important more than ever to a business school.

To shape a global vision: Now as simple as it is, by meeting people with different mindsets, different skill sets, one gains a broader vision, one understands real-world problems from different perspectives. By combining these with the knowledge gathered at a B-School, one becomes a global problem-solver This is precisely what a business school needs, strong alumni that its potential candidates, and then students will become.

What consists of International Experience?

In the most simple terms, international experience means that you have global awareness, you understand people from different backgrounds, their thought-process, their requirements, their markets, and many more vital things across continents. 

Now that we have talked about its importance, its need, we must understand how to gain this experience. There are so many myths around international experience that need to be busted because so many people who have gained this experience are not even aware of it and are unable to communicate it in their applications, and eventually, lose their chance of making it to the world’s best business schools. 

When it comes to answering the question of international experience, candidates often limit their thinking to these two aspects broadly:

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1. Living abroad

2. Making frequent business trips abroad. 

While these definitely help you in showcasing the skills that the schools seek to find in a successful candidate, they are not exclusive and necessary. As we have seen above, what matters most is the ability to connect with people different from us, learn from them, and to experience this you are not required to step out of the country. If you are working in a multicultural setting or dealing with global clients or working in a company where you are exposed to an international environment, you are already gaining the experience (Think international projects, client calls, mentor calls, courses that you might have taken where you interacted with peers from different parts of the world).  And even if you do not have any of these experiences, do not worry. Everyone has gaps in their profile and you can always explain them in your essays. Also, you can explain how an MBA will help you fill this gap. So, even if you do not feel confident enough to bring out all those great stories of international experience, or if you are not sure to present them persuasively to the adcoms, not to worry. MBA and Beyond has helped many candidates like you and we are here to bring you closer to your dreams and lead you to your dream b-school.

Want to pursue an MBA but not sure if your profile fits?

Talk to our Profile Experts to know your chances for a top MBA Program.


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