6 tips when applying for an MBA in Germany and entering the German job market

MBA admissions processes are never the easiest of tasks. Aside from being inherently time-consuming, the fear of “not getting it right” is ever-present. Luckily, we caught up with Associate Director of Admissions at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Megan Heikamp, who gave us her top tips on applying for an MBA in Germany and how to flourish in the German job market.

In short

1. Who can apply for an MBA?

A Master of Business Administration carries a great deal of prestige. Therefore, people applying for an MBA in Germany can be demotivated if they think they don’t have what it takes. 

The good news is that MBAs have been rapidly moving away from a one-size-fits-all profile. So, even if you don’t have a business background, don’t worry. Megan reassures us: “An MBA program is a level playing field for a lot of people who may have had an arts background or a medical background…they can all come together and learn from each other.” (01:01)

Similarly, academic performance is important, but it isn’t a deal-breaker. WHU looks for a GMAT score of around 600, but achieving lower than that doesn’t mean automatic disqualification. Megan explains the reasoning behind this policy: “We’ve seen some of the stronger GMAT participants in our program are not the strongest academically at the end of the day.” (10:33)

2. How does the admissions team evaluate applications?

The process at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management is relatively straightforward and in line with almost any other institution. The first step is to look at your resumé. This gives the admissions team the hard facts, like years of work experience and academic record.

Megan elaborates, “We also have what we call an MBA questionnaire which is a few short essays that dig into your motivation, what you want to do after the MBA.” (02:44) These essays aren’t particularly long, but they give the admissions department a good understanding of your ambitions and intentions. 

Having gathered enough information, Megan and her team make a first evaluation of whether you’ll be a good fit. Those who pass the selection are then invited to an interview.

3. How do you prepare for the interview?

Interviews are often the most daunting part of applying for an MBA in Germany, or anywhere else in the world. The face-to-face setting, having to display confidence and think on your feet is a difficult task for anybody. 

On the positive side, it’s a great sign that you’ve got this far! The admissions team liked what they saw in the other areas of your application and now they’re checking to see if you’re the right fit. Therefore, it relies more on your personal skills than your professional and academic know-how. No need to trawl through books on business theory; it’s all about how you present yourself. 

Megan advises, “[It’s] a bit of understanding the motivation but a bit of understanding how do you fit into this group.” (05:57)

She outlines the kinds of questions you can expect in an application interview:

  • What is your motivation to do an MBA?
  • Why do you want to come to Germany?
  • Do you want a career in Germany?
  • Where has your career led you so far?
  • How would you like to transition your career?
  • How would you balance the intensity of the MBA program?
  • What could you contribute post-MBA?

4. What is Germany like as a business market for MBA graduates?

As Europe’s leading economic powerhouse, Germany is an attractive destination for workers from around the world. However, while the opportunities are attractive, getting a foot in the door and making a name for yourself can be tricky if you don’t understand the ins and outs of the working culture. Megan explains, “What is really important in Germany is [your] relationship to a company, that you’re not every year switching employers.” (09:12

In the WHU full-time MBA cohort, around 95% aim to get a job in Germany after finishing their studies. The country has a framework in place to offer recent graduates time to find that first job. Megan explains, “What is great about Germany in that regard is that it has what is called a blue card…but there’s also a job seeker’s visa in Germany so…you have 18 months to stay in Germany to seek a job.” (06:31)

5. How can you find your first job in Germany?

When applying for an MBA in Germany, consider your end goals and how the course can get you there. Think about what goes on outside of the classroom, too. For example, WHU offers career services such as workshops, training, career fairs, and alumni interaction to put their students in the best position possible for the job hunt.

But, it’s not just a great academic record and work experience that you need. Without professional knowledge of the language, getting your foot in the door [could be a challenge]. Megan tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS, “Moving to a foreign market and wanting to stay in that market means you need to be able to adapt to that market and one of those [adaptations] is the German [language].” (07:34)

6. Megan Heikamp’s #1 tip for applying for an MBA in Germany

Applying for an MBA in Germany has many different facets to it, from academic success and work experience to cultural fit and future ambitions. Thus, it’s rather difficult to pinpoint one area for prospective students to focus on. 

However, it’s exactly the multidimensional nature of an MBA that Megan uses to offer her top piece of advice: “My number one tip…is open-mindedness to what an MBA can be.” (11:37

The open-mindedness she promotes refers to being flexible in how you approach your studies. It’s great if you have a solid five-year plan in place, but that doesn’t mean you should close other doors that don’t fit into your framework. When considering an MBA, remember that it is a general business degree and that the culmination of all your areas of study will help you become a well-rounded leader in the future.

We hope Megan’s advice has given you a clearer picture of what it’s like applying for an MBA in Germany. Take a wide-angle view of what the degree can bring you and we’re sure you’ll make the right decision.

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