Dear Mentor:

Should I collect MBA recommendation letters now?

I am a software engineer working for a good company in India. I have been working for the last year and four months now. I had an opportunity to pick up a job in Australia but I didn't take it up because I have been in Australia (on a contract through the Indian Company) for the last nine months and I felt that I wanted to spend some time at home. I am now wondering if it will be a good idea to approach the company again as I realize the market is not very good and I may not get a chance to go to the US for a job very soon. I am also very seriously considering pursuing my MBA from a well-known institution abroad, but am not sure of how to go about it. I have heard that taking the GMAT [Graduate Management Aptitude Test] is just a small part of the whole process. Could you kindly give me an idea of what all I need to do to make it through? Since I am working on contract with a very prestigious organization in Australia, should I collect recommendation letters from here, and if so, what format should I give them? Is there anything else I can do staying here which can help me in applying for MBA?

Global Options, Delhi, India

Dear Global Options:

You seem to have a good problem: How do I make a decision when I have some good choices for my future? We like that you are researching and exploring the possibilities before making a decision that is right for you.

Let us first address the employment issue. You obviously have to decide between "home," Australia, and the US. You also have to look at the career opportunities. Then strike a balance between your needs, ambitions, goals and interests and opportunities available. You know your opportunities in Australia better than we do. We can address the issue of opportunities in the US.

For a job, you would come to the US on what is called an H1-B visa for highly skilled temporary worker. What you need is Bachelor's degree and an employment offer from an employer in the US who is willing to sponsor you for the H1-B visa. It is the employer who would have to file an H1-B visa petition to the US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) on your behalf. Once the petition is approved, you would be expected to produce all relevant documents and appear for an interview at a US consulate or the US embassy. The process is fairly straightforward, though bureaucratic and time-consuming.

It is true that the world, and the US in particular, is facing the pain of the dotcom bust. There have been significant layoffs and the September 11 attacks on the US have exacerbated the situation. The situation will eventually turn around and companies will start hiring more technology professionals. When that happens is anybody's guess, but hopefully it will happen within the next few months.

We should, however, put this situation in proper perspective. The quota for H1-B visas for the year 2001, at approximately 195,000, was exhausted in the first quarter of the year. In other words, the demand for highly skilled foreign workers far exceeded the number that can be legally brought into the country. It might mean that, despite an economic slowdown, the demand for highly skilled foreign workers has not disappeared altogether. Effectively, you can not rule out the possibility of working in the US.

You may wish to consider some relevant facts before deciding between Australia and the US. While Australia boasts of progress in technology, and rightly so, the US remains the center for cutting-edge technology innovation. However, lifestyle in Australia in much more relaxed than it is in the US. Someone people describe the lifestyle in the US similar to a dog chasing its tale: always on the go!

We do not need to describe the situation at "home;" you know it better than we do. Which place you choose for employment - considering the opportunities, reward and risks - is your decision.

We have addressed the issue of doing an MBA in many earlier columns. You may wish to visit:

Some of the best MBA schools in the world are in the US. A handful of MBA schools in Europe and Canada are highly regarded. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) also offer high quality education. You are required to have completed at least 4 years of college or university education for admission into an MBA program in the US. Some colleges even require that you have completed a Master's degree from India. Top MBA schools expect candidates to have 3 to 5 years of work experience, with demonstrated success in progressively challenging assignments.

Letters of recommendations are an important part of the selection criteria. You may wish to visit:

Recommendations letters are written for one college at a time, using a format specified by each college. You should not obtain a "standard" recommendation letter now from your recommenders, in Australia or elsewhere, to attach to your application. Some colleges even specify who the recommenders must be, such as your immediate supervisor, a peer, and so on.

Most MBA schools, in the western and English-speaking world, require the candidates to take the GMAT. You must strive to score your absolute best on this test.

You can find relevant details in the iMahal Education Channel, on such topics as the List of Business Colleges in the US, Information on Entrance Exams, the iMahal College Finder, and so on. You can also type in relevant keywords in the iMahal Search, and you will find many Dear Mentor columns that would be of interest to you.

Dear Mentor: Mainpage More Questions and Answers


   Search Help

Tell a friend about this webpage!