Student Stories

19.12.2016

Tanya Vucetic - Taking a Leap of Faith while Staying Focused

Class of 2017 (United States)
Pre-MBA: Senior Financial Analyst, Aviation Capital Group (United States)
Post-MBA: Business Development Manager, Asia Jet (China)

Taking a leap of faith

When applying for my MBA in fall 2014, I initially planned to attend USC's part-time MBA program and continue to work for my employer at the time. One day I was sitting at my work desk in a cubicle in Newport Beach, California when I received a promotional email from HKUST. Then I thought to myself, “Every single deal I'm working on is Asia-based and I am heavily involved in setting up a joint venture based in Hong Kong. Asia is where I need to be. Also, why not? This will be an adventure!” That’s how I ended up choosing HKUST. It was really that simple.

Experiences at HKUST

Attending HKUST is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only do I have a master's degree and now work in Asia, I have 100+ new friends and colleagues always eager to offer help or catch up over coffee. Hong Kong is a fabulous, busy, lively city. It can get claustrophobic at times, but the ability to easily and inexpensively hop on a plane and check out somewhere new helps offset the dizzying endless skyscrapers and sometimes overwhelming high density population.

I had never been to Asia prior to arriving to the HKUST MBA program. I showed up with my suitcases on the first day and said to myself, “I'll give this my best shot!” If Hong Kong ended up not being the right place for me, I was very fortunate to still have a desk to call my own with my previous employer, and if it did work out, come what may! I embraced the experience entirely, not knowing what to expect and here I am, still in Hong Kong.

Staying focused and getting equipped

I’ve been fortunate to have found a full-time job within a relatively short time, but it really does come down to being focused. The MBA program goes by very fast and it is certainly an advantage to know what you want going into it. I knew I wanted to stay within a specific industry so that kept my career search and networking focused. I also gave learning Mandarin my best shot. I took 5 to 8 hours of semi-private lessons each week. Even though I am nowhere near fluent, but earning an MBA in Asia and demonstrating determination to learn the language opened a lot of doors for me and prospective employers took me more seriously.

Making wise choices

All too often foreigners are hired and quickly leave, deterring employers from bringing them on board. The more successful you are at demonstrating you seriously want to live and work in Asia, the higher your chances are of being hired. I also chose to not go on exchange in the last semester and kept my search focused on full time opportunities, rather than go down the internship, exchange and full-time job route. Just like anywhere in the world, the job market here certainly has opportunities, but expect to have to pry those doors open yourself rather than something falling in your lap or the stars aligning.  

One piece of advice I would like to share with prospect candidates in the US thinking of doing an MBA is “Live the life you’ve always imagined”. If you're looking to broaden your horizons, challenge yourself culturally and have a friend from every part of the world, HKUST is a 10/10 choice.