The classroom as global village


According to Statistics Canada, only 24% of foreign-trained professionals working in regulated occupations find employment in their field-despite having higher education levels than their Canadian-born counterparts and foreign work experience to back up their degrees. In fact, a lack of Canadian experience and a lack of recognition of foreign credentials is a common barrier to fully participating in the Canadian economy for the majority of foreign-trained professionals choosing to make Canada home.

If there is a fast track to acceptance or a certified Canadian stamp, it may come in the form of obtaining an MBA from a Canadian business school. "There is a perceived risk on the part of employers when considering foreign-trained and educated candidates because business cultures and educational standards do differ," says Tamer Boyaci, associate dean of the masters program at McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management. "But when you go through the educational experience of an MBA program in Canada, you are exposed to a variety of international experiences as well as the local business culture. And that helps recruiters assess the training of the individual more favourably and in a bigger context."

...Many MBA programs also tackle the Canadian experience issue head on by building an internship into the curriculum, which gives students that all-important experience for their resumés and often leads to full-time employment after graduation. That was certainly the case for Juan Sebastian Lopez, a McGill MBA candidate on track to graduate this spring. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he chose McGill for its strong global brand and its international focus. An internship with Scotiabank last summer has led to a full-time role with the bank in Toronto.

...It's a necessary and proactive approach, says Marie-José Beaudin, executive director of Career Services at McGill's Desautels Faculty of Management. "The biggest challenge for international students is branding and leveraging their experience and language skills as differentiators that can add value. Corporations are asking what value can this candidate bring and that's true for everyone, not just international students," says Ms. Beaudin. "I don't see reticence on the part of business, if anything I see certain corporations embracing diversity because that's the reality of the population they are catering to. Where business schools can do a better job is in helping international students transition and make their case. That's why we are so focused on this."

Read full article: Financial Post, March 27, 2012