Remember our friend, Amit Jathar? If not, read this first: MBA after 35 in Canada with scholarship despite low GMAT score to understand his background, aspirations and priorities in choosing HEC Montreal (not to be confused with HEC Paris).
Our Bahubali is back with a sequel, detailing his experiences as a 35-year-old MBA student in a conventional full-time MBA program in Canada, as opposed to an Executive MBA preferred by professionals with his experience.
And he’s not holding back his punches this time either, as he narrates the ups and downs of studying abroad as an international student and searching for jobs in Canada after MBA.
I have completed my MBA from HEC Montreal in Canada. Before MBA, I had 10+ years of work experience in the IT industry. A restrictive career growth in my job profile and desire to explore the global career options made me take the decision of pursuing MBA from a Canadian B-school.
I am full of the joy of achieving a long-cherished dream. Yes, I have completed my MBA in Canada. I have achieved a significant milestone in my career. The feeling is absolutely great.
However, I remember my first day at the school. The school has divided our class in the teams with 4-5 people in each team and made sure that the teams are as diverse as possible, with respect to age, nationality, culture, domain/industry, etc. I was teamed up with a Doctor (Pediatrician), an Accountant and an Entrepreneur.
The concept of diverse teams sounds great, but initially, while working we found the team was really crazy. Everyone in my team has different perspective of solving our assignments. Since we were from different cultures, we felt it difficult to get each other’s points and it was very easy to get offended by other’s remarks.
There were arguments among us for the way the assignments/projects had to be presented/delivered. After the storming and norming phase, we finally bonded up very well and learned immensely from each other’s diverse background. It was one of the great experiences the MBA has to offer other than the academics knowledge.
To be very honest, I would not call HEC Montreal a great school as there are big brands out in Toronto which people like to boast off on their resumes. However, HEC is a decent school which provides good quality education. Many of the professors were visiting faculties and work for big American/European schools as well.
Furthermore, some professors were simply great and had the capability to captivate the students. Most of the times, the lectures were interactive and even the grading has around 25-30% weight for your participation in the in-class discussions.
Most of the assignments are based on real life projects such as research about companies/industry/market, figuring out flaws in the corporate strategy, evaluating financial situations of companies, etc. Moreover, every assignment used to end with formal reports, presentations, etc.
We lost so many days and nights working on the assignments/projects which deprived us from exploring the one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Montreal. The sacrifice was worth it though, as the gain out of the MBA was immense and reasonably significant for people watching us from outer frame.
Even though, we did not explore Montreal, we attended a lot of networking events in the city. There are a lot of these events happening around the city.
The major downside of these events is, the primary language used in most of these events is French. Almost 95% people in these events talk in French.
Whenever I attended these events, most of the time, I ended up standing in a group of people and listening to others without knowing a single word. Learning French was not an option, because it is a difficult language to learn in a year and, due to our tight MBA schedule, we did not have enough time to explore this language. It’s really too optimistic (and risky) to think about building your career in Montreal without knowing French.
At the end of the MBA, we were very happy with our academic knowledge. The completion of the MBA (graduation ceremony, friend’s praises, respect in relative’s eyes) gave us the feeling that we are really a rare commodity in the world and companies which would hire us should be fortunate enough. Like any other MBA in the world, we thought that now we have become a “Managerial Material”.
But, the world was ruthless with us and none of us got the job that we dreamed of. Almost all of my classmates are landed in the similar role which they were doing before MBA. No one (or hardly except 1-2 students) got hired by any company because of the MBA degree and got a better role than that of before MBA. No one (except one girl who was our class president) placed in the campus interviews. Also, the career cell was not proactive enough.
To make the matter worse for Indian (and non-French) students, all the companies came to the campus had their seminars in French. Even while searching for off-campus jobs, you could not apply for 70-80% jobs because you will see the deadly requirement “French is mandatory”.
Moreover, The Canadian employers respect local experience more than the MBA degree. The lack of Canadian experience can make you come down by few designations and, getting a managerial role without local experience can only be a distant dream.
Eventually, I also got a job in a software company and back to work on technical stuff. The MBA education is not directly linked with my profile.
The trauma of not getting a suitable role after MBA was haunting for few months but slowly we digested the fact that we should be patient and give sufficient time to ripe the fruit before plucking it. Hopefully, the MBA will bear the fruits someday and help me to move ahead.
Personally, one of the biggest benefit of doing MBA is, it has opened doors of immigration for me and my family. Otherwise, working in Canada was almost impossible as my company would not have sponsored my work visa.
I am enjoying a good quality life which is pretty obvious in Canada. My family is living in a way better atmosphere, infrastructure, getting better facilities in healthcare, education etc. Also, we have a lot of Indians in Canada, especially in Toronto, who are generally very helpful and that makes you feel home.
After completing a 1 year MBA, you are entitled for 1 year open work permit (Some people get 3 years’ work permit as well, but it’s quite random and not guaranteed). The MBA in Canada gives you sufficient CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) points to clear the immigration threshold and can fetch you a PR.
I feel that HEC Montreal is a decent B-school with respect to quality of education, but, it can take a commanding position in the ranking system if you consider its ROI.
The other better schools (or brand names) come with a very heavy price tag. They can be 2 to 3 times pricier than HEC. But, the other schools in Toronto are very well-known locally and have a solid alumni base where HEC carries no recognition in Toronto and has very poor alumni base there.
I feel, if you have plans to come to Toronto (which generally every non-French student from HEC has to do), getting into HEC Montreal is not better than getting into any other substandard B-school in Toronto. HEC might be suitable for older aspirant due to higher average class age, but the younger students can focus on other B-schools in Toronto.
The other important thing to consider is an internship. HEC does not provide internship due to its short duration. It just has a “consulting project” which is a kind of 1 month internship but the time is not sufficient for employers to judge the students and the “intern to employee” conversion rate is 1%. The other schools which have 16-24 month MBA programs provides 4 months internships which plays major role in getting jobs.
The year of MBA was the one of the fastest year I have ever experienced. MBA from HEC Montreal has given me a great roller-coaster experience. I have loads of memories that I would cherish for my whole life.
I thank you for reading my story and I am happy to help you if you have any question for me.