MBA Wanted: Help me get to Spain!
April 13, 2009 7:22 AM   Subscribe

How do I fulfill my dream of getting my MBA in Spain? (Argentina is on the menu too). My main goal is to get my MBA, and I am currently a United States Citizen, however I have family in Spain.

Morning Mefites,

This is my first question. I am young, have about 2 years of good work experience behind my back, but I am starting to go a little crazy. My wanderlust is taking control and my dream of studying abroad again needs to be fulfilled.

I have lots of family in Spain, my Grandparents were born there and have already spoken with family members who are pretty high up in the government who have told me obtaining a visa should be no problem, even a non-student visa, so I consider myself slightly lucky in that regard. I currently am looking at good International Business Schools in Spain where I can get my MBA. There are several top-notch schools in Barcelona and Madrid that I am looking at. The one problem is that I may not have enough work experience to get accepted (I'm at the complete low point). I think that with a killer GMAT score, my work experience, and my experiences studying in Spain and Argentina previously may help as well.

So what I want from you guys are suggestions, tips or ideas. I am currently in a rut at my job, unhappy, doing the same thing over and over and I realize this is part of life, but I really want to move forward and get my international experience going. How can I, a young 20 something get to my MBA in Spain. The main problem I have right now might be funding, I know I will have to get student loans for my MBA program so any suggestions on how to fund a plan like this would be of great help.

Also, does anyone else have experience getting MBA's abroad, especially in Spain?

Another thing I am looking at is potentially saying HECK with my current job (which I think is great experience) and moving down with my friend in Buenos Aires for a year in Argentina, and maybe trying to find work there that would qualify as experience. However I'm not sure if I could get anything more than an under the table teaching job there. Any suggestions?

This is my first Mefi question, you guys are the best, so any help would be great!
posted by OuttaHere to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
MBA's generally aren't something most people can afford to do for shits and giggles, or to satisfy vague "wanderlust." They're expensive. Potentially very expensive. Harvard is pretty ludicrous, but even Spanish MBA programs can set you back US$30k once everything's said and done. Though foreign exchange programs which are part of US universities are eligible for federal student aid--they're basically just branches of native institutions--actually matriculating in a foreign country will disqualify you from that sort of help. Which means bank loans. Which, depending on your credit history, may not be pretty (though interest rates are pretty low right now)

That isn't the kind of thing you want to do unless you've got a pretty clear idea about how you're going to pay that back. This is not the year to be getting an MBA, I'm afraid. There are lots of degrees that will weather the recession pretty well, or at least bounce back once things settle themselves out: MD, JD, BSN, MSA, etc. MBAs may well not. Unless you've already got a job which will pay for an MBA, it may well not be worth it, and I think you'll find that 1) a Spanish MBA isn't going to be worth all that much in the US market, and 2) family connections notwithstanding, getting permission to settle and work in the EU is actually harder than it sounds. Sure, they'll let you come and blow $30-50k on education, but they may well send you straight home afterwards, especially in this economic climate. The silliness of the idea that you can drop $50-100k on a degree which is, no offense, basically bullshit and expect to start at $75k and up is gradually coming to light.

Look, you want to say "Screw it!" and spend a year living in Argentina or Spain? Hell, go for it. But there are plenty of better, less expensive ways, less risky ways of doing it than getting a degree which may or not be worth the paper it's printed on. Again, getting permission to work overseas can be quite difficult, especially in the absence of an employer-sponsor. Just showing up in a foreign country and saying "Job plzkthnx!" doesn't really work anymore.

It sounds like all you really want to do is live overseas, and this MBA idea is just a potentially clever way of doing that. I say ditch the MBA idea and look into alternative ways of making this happen. Join the Peace Corps. Check out WWOOF. Investigate teaching programs. Anything but an MBA.
posted by valkyryn at 7:48 AM on April 13, 2009

Response by poster: I guess I overemphasized my wanderlust. I have always planned on getting my MBA. I have a strong business foundation and want to continue on the path. I understand the costs associated with it, and also understand the current state of the MBA market. This isn't me saying SCREW THIS and packing my bags and going, this has been something I have been thinking about for several years, and now I am at the point where I think I can actually pull it off.

I want to develop myself career-wise, not just become an under the table teacher or Peace Corp volunteer. I want to use my international experience as well as work experience to develop a focus on international business. I understand that MBA's from Spain may not have the same clout as region specific US business MBA's but I still think it would help me gain value, I am not at the point where I am weighing the total costs vs the total benefit, because it's hard to quantify them.

If I can use experiences like teaching then hell yeah I will do it, and I have looked into this and have some options, but would rather do something more business and/or career oriented. Thanks for the informative post, you have a solid opinion on it and I agree with you on a lot of points. What I can say though is that the MBA isn't going anywhere, and I think I have the kind of marketable skills where an MBA from a top 5 International Business School would help me.
posted by OuttaHere at 8:14 AM on April 13, 2009

Response by poster: I'd like to add that the reason I am going for my MBA is because it's the next obvious extension of my education. It really isn't for "shits and giggles," what else am I going to get my Masters in? I do consultancy and business development for a top 30 Forbes Small Business company and don't want to give it all up to teach English, even though I think my dream job is being a teacher one day!
posted by OuttaHere at 8:21 AM on April 13, 2009

The thing you're going to have to be careful about is accreditation, especially so if you'd like to leverage that MBA into a US based job.

I'm an American who lives in Europe, and I'm finishing an Executive MBA. Although I've been living and working here for about twelve years and have no intention of returning to the United States, one of my initial screens was finding only Business Schools that offered either a US accreditation or dual (i.e., US & European) accreditation. As I like to keep my options open, my MBA is accredited in both the United States and Europe.

Now clearly if you're talking about top tier schools this doesn't really apply. The degree will be recognised on it's own merits. Spain has four MBAs in the 2009 global top 100, so you do have some choice there and you, as an American student, will stand out and be more attractive, offering heterogeny to Business School and your cohort.

A couple of other, perhaps more minor issues: in the United States an MBA is a two year, full time degree. Most European schools tend to offer a one year, full time MBA. So you'll have to be prepared to offer up reasons why, should you return to the United States to work, your MBA shouldn't be considered half a degree. Sorta idiotic, if you ask me, but I have heard of this question being raised, and more than once.

Have you considered a speciality? Again, the details here may differ significantly, especially in areas such as International Management, Marketing, etc. My field is finance, and it seems most of these degrees are largely similar in terms of material covered, classes taken, but even so a Finance MBA taken from a European institution will offer a much broader perspective in terms of continental product and banking system coverage than the equivalent US degree. Neither good nor bad mind you, just different perspectives.

Another curiosity that I found personally very, very interesting: US MBAs are "squeaky clean", and don't look at real world issues such as bribery or ransom payments. Not so for many European MBA classes, and this is something that I drew upon when I was living and working in Africa and other parts of the world where such side payments are not just unexpected annoyances, but part of a prudent business plan.

Finally, a European MBA is inevitably constrain your choise of US employers and career paths. This isn't a bad thing, if you'd like to ultimately live and work outside the United States, but something to keep in mind.

In any case, I'd suggest going for it! Every four or five years we get a spate of predictions that the MBA is dead, an obsolete degree, an irrelevant qualification. And then over the next four or five years we see a doubling of MBA class sizes, of institutions offering MBAs.

MBA programmes aren't going to go away; change, yes, adapt yes, but disappear? Nope.

Email is in my profile if I can help further!
posted by Mutant at 8:57 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for that response. I definitely have kept accreditation in mind, and the schools I am looking at are all AACSB which is basically the the high-end of the certifications. The reason I kinda threw Argentina out of the running is because it was tougher finding an accredited school.

Thanks for the list, IE and IESE are definitely at the top of my list.

I'm glad you say that me being a foreigner will help. I have been kinda hoping that as an American, who has a multi-cultural background that I would be looked at as someone who can bring something different to the classroom, and possibly stand out because of it.

I got my Bachelors in Business, double majored in Finance and International Business. My current job is more on the Management operations, processes side at the moment but I would probably be looking at Finance, or something along the line of Intl. Business/Operations.

Thanks for the the post, it boosted my spirits. Now I have to get ready for the GMATS...
posted by OuttaHere at 9:12 AM on April 13, 2009

There are several US schools that have MBAs in Spain. SLU is probably a good choice. They have study abroad programs at Madrid's Complutense and will give you an American degree which will be good world-wide.
posted by JJ86 at 11:04 AM on April 13, 2009

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