After spending about a decade teaching ESL, I decided it was time to finally put my foot down and make a change. Unfortunately, I did not have any idea of what I wanted to pursue career-wise. Having been based in Kaohsiung for a number of years, I needed exposure to alternative career paths, an experience worth adding to my resume, and an extension of my network. What could I do to achieve these feats? The Answer: an MBA in Taiwan.
The Taiwan MBA in International Business: Effective, Accredited, and Cost Efficient
When I first moved to Kaohsiung, I met people who had pursued an MBA in Taiwan. Initially, I was surprised that public universities in a Chinese speaking country would offer master’s degrees in English. But this posed an effective answer in terms of career change because after matriculation, some graduates went back to their home countries to pursue work, while others went on to work management jobs in Taiwan or elsewhere. Two examples include a Chinese classmate of mine who ended up moving to Dongguan, China, taking a finance job for a roller coaster company and another friend who landed a job for a Norwegian energy firm in Kaohsiung. These results demonstrated to me that earning a Taiwan MBA contributed to their on-boarding in non-ESL fields.
Since I was based in Kaohsiung, my main target was a public school in that city. But, for those based elsewhere on the isle formerly known as Formosa, there are over 25 AACSB accredited schools. To earn this accreditation, programs must meet certain levels of strategic management and have a curriculum that changes with technology and trends while addressing current issues in business administration. Pertaining to staffing, schools must show that they hire competent professors and can blend coursework with actual commercial enterprises. Being AASCB accredited was the first point of sale in pursuing an MBA in Taiwan; actually, only about 5% of all business schools worldwide (around 750) are AASCB accredited.
The second major selling point was cost. At about $65,000 NTD per term, my total cost of the program was less than $10,000 USD, or about 15%-25% of an average public school in the USA. While costs differ for each school, tuition at the most expensive MBA program in Taipei costs around $610,000 NTD, or a little over $20,000 USD. The fact that I could pay for an MBA without taking hefty, bank account burdening loans for several years motivated me even more. Finally, the application process is relatively simple, and, like a growing number of business schools, does not require the GMAT. Thus, I wrote the required essays, gathered letters of recommendation, obtained official transcripts from my undergraduate university, and applied. In June of 2017, I received a letter from my target school’s College of Management, indicating my acceptance to the program. 26 months later, I successfully finished my master’s dissertation, and, more importantly, have obtained a marketing and sales job with a plastics recycling company based in the US. For those considering pursuing a relatively inexpensive and AACSB accredited MBA in Taiwan, here is some advice to help you maximize the value of your studies.
Seek Opportunities that Arise Within the Program
Because my program didn’t require an exclusive student visa to study, I, like many students, elected to work (teaching English). Since my boss was a super-cool guy who helped me smoothly transition from teaching to the unknown, he allowed me to cut down my teaching hours. I procured supplemental income by qualifying for a department scholarship and working at the university. This also allowed for me to take advantage of an education-rich, hands-on extra-curricular opportunity.
Halfway into my first year, I joined a team of graduate finance students for the Chartered Financial Institute (CFA) Global Research Challenge. From May to December 2018, we toiled, sifting through balance sheets, income and cash flow statements of our target company as well as those of competitors, and modeled a target stock price from which to advise a “buy” of “sell” recommendation. We compiled the results in an equity research report, and at the final competition, gave a 10-minute presentation to a group of Chartered Financial Analysts, who grilled us incessantly for another 10 minutes afterward. Finishing runner up was not the only fruit of that experience; I made friends and learned much more about the financial evaluation of a company than I knew before.
Additionally, there was work offered through the university as well. I worked as a content writer for the program’s LinkedIn page, and I had a few friends who pursued internships offered by either the university or the government. Many of my classmates also elected to be teaching or research assistants within the university, the former usually requiring very little workload, the latter having the potential to be quite heavy. These are great opportunities for both work experience and a little extra cash on the side. Many internships arise sporadically, or are offered by companies that attend the half dozen or so job fairs the school hosts each year.
Take Pride, Be Patient
Finally, there are two important approaches I highly advocate. First, one should immerse him or herself in business news. I myself subscribed to The Economist and always made it a point to read or listen to the Business, Finance, and Economics sections each week. Knowledge acquired from this newspaper proved useful. And yes, they give a student discount.
The MBA programs in Taiwan are uniquely blessed by being international programs, meaning there are a variety of students from an array of countries, some of whom had prior careers, many of whom have never had a job at all. Look at this as training for the real world. When a team member shows up 2 minutes before a group presentation after missing practice, or does a poor job contributing to group projects, take a step back and view this as an opportunity to see how some people operate in the working world, and, more importantly, how to react professionally when a situation goes haywire. For example, in the short tenure of my current work, I have seen transactional failures which were due to one party making easily avoidable mistakes, like not being able to book a shipping line, or not paying their supplier on time. The point is, setbacks are guaranteed, and the more prepared one is to deal with them in a patient and professional manner, the more able one will be to avoid it in the future, when money and reputation are on the line.
One of the main factors that got me the job I have today was my willingness to talk about my studies in a positive light with friends in social settings. I would mention useful things I learned, like how I can calculate the risk and return of a group of stocks or funds (Portfolio Management) my journey up the Microsoft Office Suite learning curve (all classes), and how vertical integration benefits major Taiwanese chip manufactures after having seen a few manufacturing plants at class field trips (Seminars in Business Management). In truth, I was genuinely interested in what I was learning. A few months before graduation, a contact of mine who had firmly established a career in the recycling industry offered me a job with his company, mentioning he was impressed with my enthusiasm, dedication, and ability to explain things I had learned, all of which indicated an ability to produce results.
Finally, one thing I always strove for was to execute fundamentals on a daily basis. This meant showing up to class on time or early, always completing my part of a project, and actively listening and contributing to classwork and discussions. Completing an MBA in Taiwan offers many opportunities where students can learn more and get more than just basic academic rewards, and if done earnestly and diligently, can accelerate career opportunities and transitions.
This article was contributed by Jason Angle, a member of the All Hands community. Jason currently lives in Taoyuan. He works remotely as a business development manager for an American recycling company and is keen to grow his professional network.