European MBA – Worrying trends for Career Switchers

European MBA not Good for Career Switching“Millennials will leave, because they get bored! They want to learn & grow” proclaimed a speaker, and MBA marketers agreed in Chorus. Mr. X just completed 1-year in a European IT firm, post-MBA, in the same pre-MBA role that he despised. He is not leaving anywhere. He is stuck in a bad loan, and a career risk that will cost him another 3 to 5 years (the average time required to earn a return on investment from an MBA). This despite tall promises by Business School marketers about career switching. Mr. X did not find the right job offers despite the early finance focus in the MBA program. As a last minute effort to avoid the shame of returning to his home country without a job and over 55000 euros in debt, the candidate took the IT job.
3-Month Post-MBA Job Offers: Numbers Lie

A column that MBA applicants often see in brochures and ranking publications is the % job offers within 3-month of graduation. Most European schools score upwards of 80%, but time has come for applicants to question the usefulness of this data. Mr. X might have also been included in that percentage. He was forced to accept a job offer within 3 months.

Last time, I talked to him; he was philosophical about the situation. “At least, I am not working in the god-awful IT companies of India.” A change in scenery apart, he is doing the same drill. After a couple of drinks, he started owning up to the flaws in his research. The first thing he did was to check the “3-month post-MBA placement.” A score of anything over 80% in his opinion was a guarantee that career service team was competent enough to organize job fairs, and facilitate interviews. He didn’t dig deep on the numbers.

The 2015 Global Management Education Graduate Survey confirms the trend. The percentage Job seekers, with a Job Offer, was at the lowest for Full-time One Year MBA at 36%.

Job Offers Full time MBA Europe
Devaluation of Euro – Double Edged Sword

Devaluation of Euro will make top European MBA program affordable for International students, but the latest GMAC report shows the growing disparity between job offers received by domestic and international students. Unfortunately, the disparity in percentage job offers during the course is common across MBA programs in Europe.

Domestic vs International Offers European MBA
US schools have similar disparity, but when you consider that only 30% of the class is international, and for European schools over 80%, European schools’ claim that, a One Year full-time MBA is ideal for career switchers, needs some serious questioning. 

For international students in European MBAs, funding is typically divided at 30%(host country sponsored loans) and 70% (native country sponsored loans). Devaluation of Euro has a negative impact on paying back, since with devaluation, the exchange rate diminishes in the native country (Asia, Africa, and the US), thereby increasing the payback period. Since Euro is competing with Dollar, the opportunity for Americans to complete their MBA program from one of the top European MBA programs has become a feasible proposition, but unless the offers between domestic and international become equivalent through between career service initiatives and skill development focus, bringing in American candidates will only have a short-term value.

Career Switching needs more hours - Not 10000

US schools have the luxury of including specialization in the 2nd year with the opportunity for a 4-week internship. What this does is that students are not overwhelmed by a specialization within 3 months of commencing their MBA class. Even with the majority of the class represented by well-travelled professionals, European MBAs offer limited support for international students to acclimatize with the ‘new country’. It takes somewhere between one and three months to familiarize with the new climate, regulations and to find the right group of friends.

It takes 10 years for an amateur to reach an expert stage, be it a Chess player, or a writer or any profession that needs deliberation. When modern Management professionals need an intersection of all these skills, the complexity varies depending on the candidate’s ability to acquire new skills based on their genetics, learning skills, pre-MBA experience, and leadership.

Curriculum Restructuring – Not Enough

The Curriculum is a blueprint on how the learning experience is structured in an MBA program, but that is not enough when you are expecting an amateur career switcher to reach an intermediate level. A personalized coach improves the performance of the student by two standard deviations with the average mentored student performing at the 98th percentile of the class.

Which European MBA for Career Switchers?

Small class size is just the first step. European MBA programs need a higher teacher to student ratio, to create a learning framework where each student is put to intense practice sessions and mentored during each stage of their skill development. Case-based study method dominates the learning experience (23%), and rightly so, but a 10% time spent on experiential learning will not improve the hours put in for a new skill – a crucial part of transforming the amateur to an intermediate level professional.

Download F1GMAT’s MBA Research Guide – For Top European MBA Programs

Job Search Success Rate: Highest for Internship and Career Service Team

MBA Job Search Best Channels

The survey of MBA candidates last year revealed another trend – the most commonly used job search method - Applying to the company directly or networking with Alumni and Classmates, had a mere 32% success rate. A school that managed to build the foundational skills, and then positioned the students with internship opportunities was the most effective when it comes to yield rate. MBA candidates who used Internship had 50% success rate, and those who leveraged the career service team’s partnership (52%), had 48% success rate – two of the best performing job search methods.

With internships absent or incorporated without building the right foundational skills, a 1-year European full-time MBA program suffers from trying to compete with the well-structured 2-year Full-time MBA programs - a strategy that have attracted some of the best candidates, but a growing number of disgruntled alumni. This explains why networking through Alumni network has such a low success rate for students from the 1-year program.


F1GMAT’s MBA Research Guide (Latest Trends and MBA Programs by Specialization)
Bloom - The 2-Sigma Method(1984)
“The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” by K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer

2015 GMAC Report

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