2014 is the year of the horse, which in Chinese tradition is associated with hard work and on-going efforts to improve oneself. In the spirit of this tradition, here are 5 top reasons for you to pursue opportunities in Asia during your MBA.  Keep these in mind when researching and considering programs (and maybe even talk about the options during your essays and interview!).

1 Seeing is Believing

Avoid wrapping gifts in white or black, which are associated with funerals.

Avoid wrapping gifts in white or black, which are associated with funerals.

It doesn’t matter how many case studies you will do at HBS or Kellogg about companies’ successful or disastrous efforts to expand into emerging markets—you won’t be able to understand the culture until you live there and interact with people. This is your time to get first-hand experience working, managing and presenting to business people and clients in Asia.

 

2 Look Beyond China

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Don’t limit yourself to China, even if this is the country most commonly mentioned in the context of growth in Asia. The Indian economy is expected to keep growing, and companies such as Amazon and EBay are trying to figure out how to build a solid business model in a country that lacks infrastructure and has a lot of red tape.

 3 A Risk-Free Environment

 

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Being an expat in Vietnam or Japan is not a trivial experience; you are bound to make some mistakes—from misunderstanding (or not even noticing) cultural cues to struggling to build trust and relationships. Using your MBA to test your skills and understand your weaknesses will help you prepare for your future roles.

4 Born in the USA

Did you know the Nike release a new shoe to celebrate  the Chinese new year?

Did you know the Nike releases a new shoe to celebrate the Chinese new year?

Even if you see yourself living and working just in the US after your MBA (and for the next 20 years or so), there is much to learn from Asia on many topics; if you are into automotive, there’s nothing like learning from Japanese manufacturing companies; if you’re interested in the beauty industry you can learn from the expertise developed over the years in Korea, where the usage of beauty and personal hygiene products surpasses that of the US. Have you heard about the one-rupee shampoo sachets that are sold in India? There are many new inventions in these markets that you can learn from and be inspired by, regardless of your target industry.

5 Make the Most of Your Asian Heritage

 

Asia Business Club at Darden MBA (ABCD)

Asia Business Club at Darden MBA (ABCD)

If you have roots in Asian culture and are interested in  working in the area sometime, the MBA could be an opportune time to strengthen this connection. I once had a student from Asia who studied in North America; when she had to perform a due diligence on a  Chinese company, she was constantly surprised by the challenges she faced in the process. Speaking the language is not enough; you have to speak the language of business.

And don’t forget to extend a Chinese New Year’s blessing—Gong Xi Fa Cai!—to your friends, colleges, and GMAT (or MBA) classmates who are celebrating, starting this Friday.

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Photo : Twitter @nikestore