Ivey MBA Canada – Interview with Associate Director of Admissions Jenni Denniston
Written by Sameer Kamat
The Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada offers something special for international MBA candidates that many of top schools in the US and Europe can’t – the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. This allows MBA students to convert their study visa into a work-permit immediately after completing their program. This allows an additional 1 year to stay back in Canada. That’s a huge psychological advantage.
We recently caught up with the Associate Director of MBA Recruiting and Admissions at the Ivey MBA, Jenni Denniston and Julia Michienzi, Communications Officer. Instead of the regular questions about the MBA applications, essays, interviews and the case study approach that Ivey MBA is well-known for, we thought we should focus on 2 other aspects that may be more important for international MBA students – financing the MBA program (including scholarships) and getting post MBA jobs in Canada after graduation.
Ivey MBA Canada – MBA financing and MBA Jobs
MBA Crystal Ball: Thanks for accepting the interview invite. Apart from personal savings and the local financing options (bank loans can only fund part of the fee), how does the Ivey MBA admissions team assist students who’ve been offered a seat?
Ivey MBA: We understand that the MBA is a significant investment in your future – both personally and financially. Ivey offers approximately $1.8 million in awards and scholarships to incoming students each year. The majority of our scholarships and awards are merit-based, and are allocated on a rolling basis with admissions decisions. We also work with candidates to explore other financing options, which include bank loans at favourable rates as well as external scholarship opportunities.
MBA Crystal Ball: What percentage of the incoming class gets MBA scholarships? What is the typical amount range?
Ivey MBA: Close to 50% of our incoming class will receive a scholarship or award based on the overall quality of his or her application. These scholarships and awards can range anywhere from about 10% of tuition through to a handful of full tuition scholarships.
MBA Crystal Ball: How tough is it for students without a local network and contacts to break into the Canadian job market
Ivey MBA: One of the great advantages of joining the Ivey community as a student, is that you gain access to one of the largest and most engaged alumni networks of any business school in Canada. With over 22,000 alumni in 99 countries, there are endless opportunities to build contacts and relationships with people who are leading some of the world’s most successful companies.
Throughout the year at Ivey, there are many formal and informal initiatives designed to help students build their network. These opportunities include the Ivey Partnership Program: a formal mentoring initiative for Ivey alumni and students; as well as Career Management’s “Get Connected” event: three full days in Toronto, aimed specifically at giving students access to representatives and alums from the top recruiting firms.
Additionally, alumni participate as guest speakers in the classroom, act as informal mentors through informational meetings and as hosts for student-initiated recruiting trips. There are no shortage of opportunities and touch-points for any of our students to build a strong network of contacts in Canada.
MBA Crystal Ball: Typically, most 2-year MBA students use their internship to get a foot in the door in the industry and company of their choice. Does the absence of an internship option at Ivey impact the job hunting process?
Ivey MBA: Ivey is a one-year program, with classes starting and finishing each April. Even without an internship component, Ivey consistently has one of the highest placement rates of all Canadian business schools (90% for 2011 class).
MBA Crystal Ball: How do most Ivey MBA graduates get jobs (networking, alumni help, personal effort)? What role does the Careers’ team play in the process?
Ivey MBA: Career Management (CM) programming is integrated directly into the curriculum at Ivey so the CM team is engaged with the students from day one. After completing the in-class curriculum during the first 12 weeks (which includes classes on resume and cover letter development, networking, interviewing, etc.), students attend “Get Connected” in Toronto: three days devoted to networking, mock interviews and functionally-aligned panels with Ivey alumni and recruiters.
This event is designed to help you connect with the job market, practice interviewing and networking skills and gain in-depth knowledge of the industry you wish to pursue. Following “Get Connected,” students are encouraged to work with Career Management one-on-one and/or participate in optional workshops and clinics throughout the year.
In 2011, just over 60% of MBA graduates received a job offer from a school-facilitated source, which includes alumni connections, on-campus information sessions, club event or internal job board. About 30% received an offer through their own sources including executive search firm, friend or non-Ivey contact, a company website, or pre-Ivey employer.
MBA Crystal Ball: What can students do before starting their MBA program at Ivey (or during the course) to maximize the chances of getting their dream jobs?
Ivey MBA: Research, research, research! The clearer your career goals before coming into the program, the easier it is to work with Career Management on outlining the best strategy to meet your goals. Having a clear and in-depth understanding of the industry, and even the firm(s) that you want to target, will put you one step ahead of the pack when it comes time to recruiting.
Understanding the language and nuances of the post-MBA job market in any given industry is something that will come through your own research, as well as through the resources offered by Career Management once you arrive at Ivey. Additionally, networking is a critical piece during the job search process. Leveraging connections through the Ivey Alumni Network to gain as much information as possible about the respective industry, function or firm can maximize the potential for additional connections and job opportunities.
MBA Crystal Ball: For an international student looking at MBA options in the US (the dominant MBA market) and in Canada, what are the main differences – considering geography, economy, financing, job prospects and the overall MBA experience?
Ivey MBA: In 2010, Business Week listed the best business schools outside of the USA: one third of these programs are in Canada, with Ivey ranking in the top six. Additionally, the standard of living in Canada is amongst the highest in the world. We consistently rank in the top five on the United Nation’s Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide.
When compared to the USA and UK, Canada is also a less expensive country to live/study in, has higher GDP growth, and lower unemployment, so it makes financial sense to consider Canada as your destination of study.
International students can also turn their study permit into a work permit immediately after graduation. Unlike the USA or the UK, students who complete a degree in Canada are able to remain here working for at least one year by way of the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.
MBA Crystal Ball: In the current class, apart from consultants, bankers, tech and marketing folks, are there any unconventional profiles?
Ivey MBA: Absolutely! Given that Ivey’s program is case-based, diversity is critical in the class to ensure dynamic and engaging discussion and debate. Over the course of Ivey’s program, we have admitted medical doctors, a rocket scientist, a ship captain, an RCMP officer, musicians, business owners, nurses, an Olympic gold medalist, military personnel … the list goes on! We are always looking for people who can bring unconventional experiences and unique perspectives to the classroom dynamic and discussion.
MBA Crystal Ball: Are there part-time work options (like a graduate assistantship) available for Ivey MBA students?
Ivey MBA: Given the intensity of the one-year program including international study options, and the number of extra-curricular activities offered, the program is not conducive to students working in a part-time capacity.
MBA Crystal Ball: How many international students (percentage) work in Canada after graduation? Is it possible for students to apply for MBA jobs in the US or any other country?
Ivey MBA: 89% of placed students from the 2011 class received job offers in Canada post-graduation. Provided that students meet the necessary visa and/or work permit requirements, it is possible for students to apply for jobs in the US or internationally.
MBA Crystal Ball: Can you share any stories where Ivey grads have adopted interesting and unconventional approaches to get the job they wanted?
Ivey MBA: One recent story that jumps to mind is from an Accelerated MBA student (our Accelerated Program is for Ivey HBA graduates only) who focused her Research Project on why a smart phone company was having trouble selling its devices in the Southeast Asian Market. She was able to approach the company after completing the project and translate her knowledge into a job with the firm, based out of Singapore.
MBA Crystal Ball: Are there any new initiatives that the Ivey team is working on that you’d like to share?
Ivey MBA: Currently Ivey is in the process of completing a brand new, $110 million dollar building to accommodate the growth and innovation consistent with the Ivey brand. The building will be 270,000 square-feet and will be Gold LEED certified and energy efficient.
Built with stone and glass, the building will remain consistent with the architecture of Western’s campus and at the same time exude the quiet confidence of a top business school. With some students and staff already moved into Phase 1 of the building, we expect that the entire Ivey community will be fully migrated to the new building in 2013.
In an uncertain economy, the cost of the MBA program and the post-MBA jobs are often considered as important as (if not more than) the education that you’d get in the classroom. In such a situation, the Ivey MBA program, which takes a balanced approach to each of these aspects, might be just what the doctor ordered for your career.