Why I Chose To Do My MBA In Israel and Never Looked Back
Ever since I made the decision to go to Israel to do my MBA, people have asked me why. Why did you choose to go abroad when you so many options in the US? And why did you choose Israel of all places? I had a lot of choices in the US, and settling on a place wasn't easy. But once I got here, I never looked back.
When I was shopping for a school, my first consideration was for academic quality. There were a number of top tier schools that obviously fit the bill in the US and some overseas. Most I'd never heard of. But the prospect of learning abroad piqued my interest. After four years as an undergraduate in the US, I was eager to spend some time studying abroad, getting to know a different country.
One school caught my eye - the Technion. It has an international start-up MBA program in Tel Aviv, an exotic beach metropolis, which instantly conjures up images of sun and sand. And the price was a welcome sight after the sticker shock I had with most of the other schools. Best of all, I could finish the entire MBA in one year. I started to get really excited. It sounded like a great choice.
I did some research to make sure this was really the kind of prestigious institution it was made out to be. Sure enough, the Technion's name came up all over the academic world as a top notch school. It had four Nobel Prize laureates within the last decade. It has ties with Yale and Cornell. All the college rankings listed it as one of the top universities in the world. That settled it for me.
But even after I made my decision, I'll admit I was kind of jittery. The Technion program is elite, and I'd be learning with the best minds from around the world. Would I be able to keep up? Would competition between students foster the kind of stressful environment I hate?
Much to my surprise, student life both inside and outside of the classroom was relatively relaxed. That's not to say academically it's not intense. It's most definitely challenging. But the atmosphere on campus doesn't make the challenges feel overwhelming. I'm pushed here, but in a positive way. Students are pushed to their potential, not to a breaking point like I'd always feared. It's part of the Israeli culture; people take the learning very seriously without the obsessive anxiety I'd heard about at lots of the prestigious American business schools.
The professors here are a big part of that. They make sure to foster a comfortable, productive class atmosphere, even when the material is sophisticated. Classes are small so you feel free to ask questions and engage with the instructors. The lectures are vibrant and engaging - you never see people dozing off or struggling to follow.
Academics aside, learning in an international program has been an eye-opening experience. I pride myself as a globetrotter, but it's so different living in a country for a whole year than just travelling. You pick up some of the language, learn some of the habits and behaviors. I've learned so much about Israel, Jews, Arabs, the Middle East... I can't help but look back at the social divisions in the US in a totally different context now.
For an aspiring entrepreneur, getting that kind of global perspective on things is so important, and I never would have really internalized that staying in the US. Every place has unique challenges and its own solutions. There's so much we can learn from other countries, and so much we can share with them too, and it's business people who can bridge those gaps and transmit the knowledge and goods.
But the thing that's been hands down the most inspiring in the Technion program has been the field visits to tech companies and start-ups. Seeing up close and personal how startups form, develop, and succeed really brought home for me the idea that business isn't only about megaconglomerates.
With some innovation and market knowhow, I can do it too. It's difficult to convey how rewarding that feeling is; it's like all the doors opened and all the nagging doubts of "will I make it on my own?" just disappeared. And on the whole, I'd say that's probably more important than the MBA itself.