Non-EU citizen prospects in US/Europe

I am a North African junior finance student with a near perfect GPA, native Arabic and fluent English. I would like to get a master's degree from a reputable Continental European university, since US and UK degrees are way too expensive and the universities don't provide much aid to foreign students, and then to land a job in IB in London, or more preferably NYC (although I have an idea of how difficult it is). I intend to apply to HEC, HSG, Bocconi, and maybe another one or two programs. I was thinking of enrolling in a German course during my last two college years as a way to potentially have an advantage when applying to London positions, or if that isn't possible to help land a position in Frankfurt or Zurich and I was wondering if it would be worth the investment, since A1-B2 courses are expensive (amounting to about a semester's tuition in my university, which is a lot). I've seen comments where some people say that English in enough for positions in DACH, others where they say that it's next to impossible for a non-EU citizen to land a job there. Would the course have a good return on investment?

Regards

Comments (30)

Sep 10, 2021 - 6:48am
neink, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Strongly recommend you invest a lot of time in German if the goal is Zurich, a bit less for Frankfurt but still a game changer. 

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

  • 2
Sep 10, 2021 - 6:49am
neink, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Seriously, whatever bs universities teach you isn't worth a third language. 

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

Sep 10, 2021 - 10:56am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your reply. As I said in the original post, Zurich and Frankfurt aren't my goals per se, but more like backup plans, if I can't get a placement in London from HEC or if I attend another program with less favorable prospects in London. So, all things considered, will learning German be worth the invested money and time?

Sep 10, 2021 - 11:07am
neink, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Then no, better to network in London

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

  • 1
Sep 10, 2021 - 11:21am
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would initially figure out where you would want to get placed and spend the next few years of your life. The decisions leading up to that state are very different. If you want to live and work in the US you'd pretty much have to study in the US (and then go through OPT, H1b, GC, etc).
London/UK will give you a work permit post degree, but as you've said the tuition fees are fairly high. Nonetheless, it would give you time and opportunities in your local network.

German is very helpful for the DACH region, but those regions do not have the same amount of finance jobs as NYC or London in the first place. But if you like the region or the culture, then I would recommend them. I would argue you can get placed without being fluent in German, but is so much better if you had the language.

Which culture is your favorite?

Since you are from North Africa, by any chance, do you speak French? If so, Paris also has a few interesting options.

Sep 10, 2021 - 12:41pm
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for you reply. Unfortunately I don't speak French since I'm not from that part of North Africa. My ultimate goal is to work and live in the US. However, as you said, placement in NYC out of a European school is very difficult, so my next choice would be London, thanks in no small part to the language. But, I can't guarantee that I will get into HEC or that I will find a placement in London even if I got into HEC, so my next choice would be DACH. I am thinking of it as more of a transitory region, from which I could get into London or NYC after a few years.

Another question that popped into mind is about Dubai. How do European schools place there? Can I get a job in London or NYC after a few years there? How is the competition? Language won't be a problem as I am a native Arabic speaker and I speak English fluently.

Sep 10, 2021 - 12:49pm
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If your ultimate goal is to live and work in the US you either have to study in the US, get transferred out by an international company, make an investment, or marry a USC. There are other options, but those are the main ones. Immigration to the US is a complex, expensive and time-consuming matter, so you'd better get on this as early as possible. It may take years.

But since you are open to various locations, we didn't discuss the most obvious one - Canada. Easier to migrate to, easier to get EE/PR, easier to obtain citizenship and another potential route to the US, eventually. This will also take a few years of time, but at least you are on the same continent and with an English speaking and diverse culture. Europe is not nearly as diverse as Canada or the US.

Culture, in general, is very different in all of these places. It is unlikely that an expat would love Germany, Switzerland, UK, US or Canada the same way...

Sep 10, 2021 - 1:11pm
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for another detailed reply. Regarding culture, I don't think that I would hate it in any of these countries, although I would prefer the US. About Canada, how do European schools place there, or would I need to attend a Canadian school? I think that a Canadian school would limit my options and restrict me to only Canada. I edited the previous comment but apparently after you started typing your reply to ask about Dubai. Could you share any insights about it?

  • Research Analyst in HF - Other
Sep 11, 2021 - 10:11pm

This may be an unpopular opinion, but it's time to bet on yourself. If there is a way for you to attend the best school possible, then you should do it - regardless of the cost. If you can take loans out, do it. Some places won't be worth the investment but many are worth it regardless of the cost - provided you are deadset on going to finance and trying to make a bunch of money.LBS - probably expensive, but if you get in and do well you will get a good job with great prospects.Several MBA schools in the US are going to be worth the steep admission fees. For grad schools, they aren't really federally subsidized so the cost is high for everyone, but the math works out.

At the end of the day, the career you will gain will far outstrip your investment. Would you turn down a spot at HBS because tuition is $100k a year?

Oct 16, 2021 - 8:50am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry for the late reply. As @ushguli pointed out, I am from Egypt and the tuition fees for the schools you mentioned are out of question since the cost and the standard of living in Egypt are very low compared to Europe and the US. I am attending a private college and $100k tuition per year of Harvard is about 7-8x the tuition of a full undergraduate degree here. Regarding loans, the government here doesn't offer student loans. But even if it did, I'd say it is a very risky gamble since even if I graduate from a top school, I still have nationality problem to deal with.

  • Research Analyst in HF - Other
Oct 21, 2021 - 4:32pm

Fair enough - I think the US is probably a risky gamble from a visa perspective, but the UK is much better at this. LBS is still expensive but at least there's not really a risk of you getting kicked out for lottery reasons. If you simply can't get the financing, then it's a different story for sure.  

Sep 14, 2021 - 9:38am
ushguli, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Of you're non-francophone, I'd assume you're from either Egypt or Libya. You should absolutely learn either French or German ASAP. You may not need them in a master's (in France, HEC and Insead are great, in Germany Mannheim, WHU, Köln, Frankfurt School, and TUM are all excellent), but you will struggle to get a job in mainland Europe if you don't speak one of the two. I live in DACH, and from what I've seen, you will be competing against other Germans or non-EU citizens that have taken the time to learn German, meaning your resume will be thrown out since it's non-competitive. Good luck, and happy learning :-)

Oct 16, 2021 - 8:54am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your reply. As I pointed out in a previous comment, I have found out that the A1-B2 courses are relatively expensive and I am not sure if I will be getting any return on that investment. Even if I attend a top school, I still have the nationality problem to deal with, and from what I've been reading on the forums here, it is extremely difficult for a non-EU citizen to be placed right out of school. I'll focus on studying for the GMAT for now and will see where it goes from there.

Oct 20, 2021 - 6:07pm
ushguli, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am a non-EU citizens and managed to learn German and get hired in Germany. You can do it too ;-)

  • 1
Oct 30, 2021 - 8:03am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Telemachus also pointed out that RSM is a good school. Does it place well in London for non-EU citizens?

  • 2
Oct 30, 2021 - 9:04am
boib_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey, RSM is a good university with an excellent price/quality ratio. However, your placement will mainly depend on your past work experience and your overall profile. Your degree won't be the thing that won't allow you to find a job in London. Check Linkedin, I am sure plenty of people have managed :) 

Oct 21, 2021 - 5:37am
boib_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you do not speak German then there is no point to study there. It will be very tough for you to find a job. Even worse, for France, Italy and Spain. That being said, I can only recommend doing your master in a country where you speak the language or where English is highly spoken. Also, look at the economy and its future prospects, these are far more important than simple ranking. All the best :) 

Oct 30, 2021 - 8:06am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am a native Arabic speaker and I speak English fluently. However, being placed in Egypt is next to impossible without a "wasta", even in Citi and other international banks. Tuition fees are too high in both the UK and the US that I'd need a full tuition fee waiver to be able to afford the cost of living there, which they don't give to foreigners. Thus, I'm left with Germany, Francy, and Italy, if I can get the GMAT score to get accepted and get a good fee reduction.

Most Helpful
Oct 21, 2021 - 5:54am
Telemachus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A few thoughts...

Foreign language - Don't try to learn a new foreign language. It won't work. There is no way you will learn the necessary fluency in the time needed. You can best spend your time on other activities that boost your candidacy. 

Location - If you want to end up in the US/London eventually, target schools that place students there. I understand that cost is an issue, but there are some fine programs that allow this placement that are on the lower cost side. RSM is a fine Uni that places well and is lower on the cost scale. I'd also apply to a few UK universities, even if you need loans, you can easily service debt with your first job after school.

Additional training - I'd try for level 1 of the CFA, get a fee waiver if you can. This would be more valuable then spending time learning a new foreign language and it shows commitment to the industry. Level 1 is a good training for whatever field of high finance you focus on and would be a differentiator in interviews. 

Best of luck! 

Oct 30, 2021 - 7:16am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your reply. I will mainly target HEC Paris, but will also apply to some others. Regarding CFA, I got the feeling from the forums here that it isn't as important as we're led to believe by the CFAI, and that recruiting is only based on school name and networking. I read some of the Level 2 curriculum and didn't find it very difficult, but I am not sure if it's worth the money and the time commitment. I've started learning German on my own to get some basic sense of the language so that I don't have to work from the very beginning if I find that I will need it.

Nov 2, 2021 - 1:21pm
Telemachus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds good! 

I'm not sure I've ever heard someone call CFA level 2 easy by any means, but its your call. The exam does give fee waivers, so cost may not be an issue.

Regardless, best of luck w/ your career transition! HEC is an utterly amazing school if you land there and the program can place you very well.  

Good luck learning German! 

Nov 12, 2021 - 5:50am
MENA_Chimpanzee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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