International Work Experience worth it?

Hi,

I need advice on what to do once I graduate.

I have a bachelor degree in Economics, I have 2 internships under my belt, one in corporate finance sort of investment appraisal etc for a logistics firm, and one in financial accounting for a small consulting firm.

These were done during my Bachelor, and once I graduated I worked middle office at BNYM and then BNP Paribas for one year...

Now I'm currently doing an MSc Finance and Management at a pretty good school and I want to know what I should do once I graduate.

I'm pretty international which I believe I need to emphasize. I speak 5 languages fluently, spoken and written, am of dual nationality, Swedish and Greek, went to the European School in Brussels, Belgium, did my undergraduate in the UK, and currently my MSc in the UK as well. The two internships were in Barcelona, Spain and Greece respectively, whilst the year of working was in Brussels.

My goal is to work as an equity research analyst or work in corporate finance within industry, preferably corporate development and M&A.

First of all, is international experience really looked well upon by employers within finance? Specifically the roles I'm looking for?

Secondly, my plan is to move and do an internship in Cape Town, South Africa for 6 months and then one in New York. So basically, one years worth of internships. The plan is to increase my international work experience, and hopefully this will be seen as a good thing by future employers.

Is it worth it? Or will I have done too many internships? I mean of course I want to do this stuff cos of the adventure and fun of it as well (I won't just be a hippy travelling, I'll be building my CV) but I always put career first for now, so if it's bad for my CV it's not worth it.

Thank you!

Comments (42)

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 5:03pm

International experience can be highly prized on the ER side (particularly in emerging markets) -- I'm not as familiar with banking, but it should give you points there as well. Language skills are more important than international experience for junior roles, but it looks like most of yours are probably European languages, which unfortunately are somewhat less prized than Asian languages (unless you speak Eastern European languages). I'm strictly for ER with that comment. Also, if you speak German, that's a plus. But most of the countries in Western Europe speak English in business settings, are very "thin" in terms of investable opportunities, or are almost completely uninvestable (like France, which is a commie shit hole). I don't speak anything but English and Spanish and I have zero trouble investing in Europe or calling companies from the US -- Germany, Italy, Scandinavian countries, UK, etc.

I don't know anything about MSc recruiting but you should be a viable candidate otherwise. I would skip the elaborate internship strategy and just get a job. After a couple of years, full-time experience trumps pretty much anything you have done previously, and the internships probably won't give you a high return on time.

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 5:12pm

When I read international work experience, I thought it was someone who spent two or three years working in another country. Fetching coffee in a foreign country is not impressive.

As far as speaking several languages , let me break it down for you:

You are maybe fluent in Greek and Swedish because you hold citizenship from both countries or because your parents are from these countries.

Reality check: Not impressive.

As a multilingual person, I always laugh when people tell me: You are fluent in German, Russian, English, French, and Spanish? Waw!

I laugh at them because I have been speaking these languages since I was young. I have lived in countries that speak these languages, I grew up in a household where German and Russian where the main languages.

There is nothing impressive about it because my environment made it easy for me to acquire these languages at an early age.

You know what is impressive?

The Chinese and the Mexican kids who came to the US when they were 16 or 18 and struggled to learn English.

It is also impressive if a Turkish teen immigrates to Germany at 15 or 18 and try his best to learn the language.

That requires effort, dedication, and pain. So please before you boast about how many languages you speak, ask yourself if there is anything exceptional in the fact that a kid who grew up with bilingual parents or in a multilingual household know their languages.

No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.
  • 2
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Jan 18, 2012 - 5:17pm

Yohoo, I wasn't boasting and I too have the same sentiment when someone is impressed. I just say I got lucky because I was forced to learn these languages as a kid. (Mind you I learned 3 of those languages when I moved to a different country at the age of 10.)

So please chill out, you might get a hernia.

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 5:44pm

Well-said Boreed. I actually disagree with Yohoo's rather unnecessary rant. I think if you do speak those languages fluently and you're not merely using the term 'fluent' to characterize 2 years of AP Spanish in high school (I've met ppl who claim this), then yes, I think employers would be impressed with you. You'll definitely be more appealing than the other applicant who speaks only English and some conversational Chinese.
Honestly, some employers don't care HOW you acquired certain skills, so long as you actually have them. Yes, it may show something about your character if you struggled to learn a new language as an immigrant or whatever, but when it comes down to it, skills are skills, and if you have the right combination of skills, character, and academic credentials, then you'll get hired.

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 5:54pm

Thank you MuddleMint,

While I appreciate all of your comments so far, my main question is still whether or not going for a year of internships after I graduate, in Cape Town and New York is worthwhile or a waste of time and opportunity cost of money making...

Thanks!

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 5:55pm

How valuable is international experience? (Originally Posted: 01/23/2015)

I have a friend who works as a controller in the US for a F500 company, and he was recently offered a promotion as a controller of a larger operation in Mexico. The operation is very close to the border, so he would be able to live in the US while working in the position and cross the border daily for work. He would likely be in the role less than 18 months.

My question is how valuable is this experience and how much would it help him in terms of his résumé and marketability? He is struggling to decide whether to take it since he could apply for comparable roles in the US that wouldn't require him to work in a less desirable location, so I'm curious to see your thoughts.

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:08pm

How much is international experience valued at H/S/W? (Originally Posted: 03/01/2010)

OH GOD, I NEED B-SCHOOL. THANK GOD FOR A RESET BUTTON

I'll be doing IBD at a top BB in Asia and it just hit me today at 5000 mph that I have zero exit opportunities aside from climbing the ladder and I will have to return to business school if I want to recover from my impending disastrous dead in the water career. I'm just praying they don't put me in ECM or I may as well brand myself with a giant ECM scarlet letter. I think this is akin to being in ops, but you just make more dough.

So, for those of you that are experienced with b-school, how do they value international experience? Sure they value diversity, but that's not necessarily the same thing as being international. Is it even a plus to be working overseas or anything banking they give a rubber stamp?

My goal is a top 3 b-school so I can have a fresh start for a great PE firm or McKinsey in the U.S.

My stats:

Top undergrad
Very high GPA
(yet to take GMAT, hopefully high score)

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:11pm

Abroad Internship (Originally Posted: 04/24/2013)

I have an offer to work at at decently sized Venture Capital firm in Israel. Israel has a prominent start up environment with leading technology and clean tech firms. How would professionals in the finance sector back in the US look at this experience versus an internship at a more well known finance firm in NY not in Venture Capital?

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:13pm

International Exposure and Work Experience (Originally Posted: 03/22/2013)

Please weigh in. How do you guys feel about international work experience. Whether it be a part of a cross rotational program or an assignment or simply getting a job in another country for 2-3 years. Does it drastically improve your bschool chances and/or exit opps?

How about specific fields; like consulting, banking, PE/VC?

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:15pm

Doing a project or stint internationally didn't seem to alter the landscape much for MBA apps for people I knew in consulting.

Array
 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:16pm

Would any of you consider working internationally? (Originally Posted: 07/19/2013)

I feel like working internationally is something everyone should experience, but that is just me. Pre-MBA I worked in Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, and Bulgaria. I am considering going international again, working in Kansas city is great and all, the lifestyle is awesome, but I want to work in Africa. I am going to begin networking for it!

 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:21pm

Absolutely. Most interested in working in Switzerland and Australia

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:24pm

IlliniProgrammer:

You could move to Nigeria with your new baby and start writing emails to people that you are a RICH BANKER who needs to get MILLIONS of US DOLLARS out of the country.

PS: good luck with the pregnant gf . And how did you get an MBA at age 24?

I'm pretty sure bro is trolling. And you can get the MBA pre-24 if you're in Europe OR if you're in the US and you have no idea what the point of an MBA is (some schools offer an MBA without experience, usually in a 5-year plan, OR an academic route to getting the MBA immediately after UG)

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:25pm

Definitely a troll. Saw him talking about the destiny of prop trading and HFT the other day, yet in another thread, didn't know what a basis point was. Suspicious...

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
 
Jan 18, 2012 - 6:28pm

@IP: Haha, just trying to further illustrate that point.

@kotr: What is "them"?

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
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