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?


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Comments (13)

Sep 10, 2021 - 6:48am

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.

  • 1
Sep 10, 2021 - 6:49am

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

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

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

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.

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Sep 10, 2021 - 12:41pm

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.

Most Helpful
Sep 10, 2021 - 12:49pm

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

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?

Sep 14, 2021 - 9:38am

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