In the previous article, I shared about my application journey to the world’s best MIM program, the Masters in Strategy and International Management at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. I talked about my pre-MIM career, the GMAT prep journey, and how I worked on my applications.
In this article, I wanted to dive deeper into the experience I had while I was in Europe. Post my MIM, I worked in Europe across Switzerland and Netherlands, for almost 3.5 years, before returning to India and starting my own admissions consulting firm, Management Masters, focusing exclusively on the world’s best MBA and MIM programs. So, in this article, I wanted to share more about
- how I navigated the MIM experience,
- how I found multiple internships and a job in Switzerland and Netherlands,
- how I was able to get a positive ROI from my masters within 4 months of my internship,
- and the potential opportunities and pitfalls of life in Europe!
MIM at St. Gallen experience as an International Student
Living, breathing, and studying at a top MIM program in Europe was almost a dream come true for me. Not only because I had beautiful landscapes to gape at, but also because every single day would take me closer to my goals. At the same time, studying with my highly accomplished peers and learning from excellent professors who brought a renewed vigor to the classroom every day was mesmerizing!
In general, MIM programs tend to be more theoretical compared to MBA programs, since the average work experience of the class is quite low (0-2 years). However, it did not affect the quality of discussions that we had in the classroom. The professors would ask intriguing questions, and when you have a bunch of high-achieving individuals in the classroom coming from as diverse backgrounds as you can imagine, our class of 45 students consisted of 19 nationalities, the classroom sessions were as electrifying as they could be.
However, while everything was great, the amount of work pressure was intense – which made prioritization an absolute necessity. At any given time, there would be multiple events happening, and if you don’t have a focus on what you want to achieve from your MIM experience, it is quite easy to get lost in those experiences.
How to Decide between MIM and MBA
So, my tip for anyone going for an MIM or MBA is usually two-pronged,
- identify clearly WHAT do you want to work towards, that is, your short-term goals,
- prioritize only those things and leave out the rest.
FOMO is real, and even more so at business schools. It is quite important to not get caught up in it. Read more on MBA vs MIM – what’s better?
Finding Internships and Jobs in Switzerland
One of the biggest realizations for me during the MIM program was when it came to finding internships and jobs in Switzerland.
Challenges for International (Non-EU) Students in Europe
The first thing, however, to do is to set straight the facts:
- As an international, non-EU student, you will have lesser opportunities available to you,
- Language matters. If you speak the local language, your chances will improve dramatically.
- Companies won’t come to hire you straight out of school as it happens in India. You will need to actively network and apply for jobs/internships.
How to Find Jobs in Switzerland (and Europe) as an International Student
Once I had realized these aspects, I knew I had to focus on building and utilizing my networks to be able to find internships and jobs, and so, that is what I did.
I reached out to my professors, industry leaders who had taken guest lectures for us, and our program’s alumni extensively. They not only helped in providing me the direction I was looking for but also helped in identifying the right opportunities and opening doors.
Obviously, the bulk of the work still rests on your shoulders as you are expected to take charge and do things but being able to utilize my network effectively gave me a huge advantage, eventually leading me to find an international internship in Hong Kong, and then another one in Switzerland. The Swiss internship later converted into my job, where I spent the rest of my career in Europe!
Also, since the St. Gallen SIM program is heavily subsidized by the Swiss government, the cost of the program was a meagre 3,000 Euros per semester. So, while I was interning with the Swiss firm, within 4 months of my internship I was able to turn my ROI positive which was a huge relief!
Potential Opportunities and Pitfalls of the European Life!
The European continent offers multiple opportunities for aspirants looking for either MBA or MIM programs.
- International Exposure: the extent of exposure at European programs is immense since almost everyone comes from a different country and vastly differing backgrounds.
- Great work-life balance: Europeans know when to stop working. The bifurcation between professional and personal lives is clear, and there is hardly anyone who expects you to answer emails on a weekend!
- Cultural immersion: the extensive cultural diversity of Europe makes it a melting pot of different cultures and a rich history, which is impossible to find anywhere else on earth!
- Lower costs: Talking about MBA or MIM programs, European programs are much more cost-effective compared to their US counterparts!
However, not everything is hunky-dory either. There are significant challenges as well, which one needs to be aware of before moving ahead with their European dreams!
- Social barriers & Language: based on my personal experiences, it is quite difficult to break into the social barriers in Europe, and this primarily arises from the language differences! Most European countries are fiercely protective of their cultural heritage, and it’s very unlikely to be able to penetrate those walls without immersing yourself in their local cultures!
- Career progression: while Europe definitely has a lot to offer in terms of great careers and opportunities, it does not come close to the US while considering the vast breadth of opportunities that are available! Again, the language barrier plays an important role here since many roles will be cordoned off for international students simply because they don’t speak the local language, a case that doesn’t happen quite that often in the US!
The Final Verdict
Despite the challenges of European life, if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would gladly take it up! Today, I help candidates who are in similar shoes as I was – juggling with their career choices, aiming for the best possible options for them, and needing help in their journeys. I started Management Masters to work with such candidates and help them get to the best business schools around the world.
Over the last few years, I have helped candidates get admits from top business schools around the world, such as Wharton, Kellogg, London Business School, HEC Paris, Cambridge, ISB and others. We have received rave reviews because of our no-nonsense approach and honest feedback.
So if you are contemplating your dream schools, and would like to discuss your profile, your plans, and expectations from a top business school, feel free to reach out to me.
Original Featured Image Source: My Swiss Story