By Malak Hammoud – MiM, GMiM and MFA Recruitment Manager
Jason Klanderman grew up in Amsterdam and completed his undergraduate studies in the US at Penn State University studying History, Politics and Mandarin. He completed an exchange in Beijing where he lived with a Chinese family, practised speaking Mandarin and immersed himself in the culture– this is was what sparked his love and interest in Asia. So what was next? Having completed his degree he saw that the perfect transition into kick starting his career was the Global Masters in Management.
I sat down with Jason to interview him on his GMiM experience and what he has gained from his journey between two cities and two networks.
What drew you most to the GMiM programme?
“For me it was the Asia exposure. I knew even before I applied that I wanted to live and work in Asia so this was the perfect balance where I could experience the UK while at LBS and then have the opportunity to attend one of the best Universities in China – both LBS and Fudan carrying a huge weight in Asia so it was the winning choice for me. In hindsight, the fact that it’s a two year programme gave me a lot more time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do and get the most out of the programme. Having that summer to get some work experience meant that I didn’t spend the year at LBS worrying about applications and my CV. It was a game changer”.
What were you looking for in a programme when you were in the research stage?
“I had a clear idea of what I wanted and I didn’t feel that other programmes met what I was looking for. Both years offered something different which ticked different boxes for me. LBS has top notch academics and for students who haven’t studied business before, a school like LBS is a perfect choice if you’re looking to make a certain shift providing an ease to join a certain field. I was very interested in improving my employability which the Careers Centre supported me in. I was looking for a global alumni network where I was part of a school that was recognised globally and has a strong established network – LBS strongly delivers on that. Shanghai in many ways is one of the easier places to be especially for people who are new to China – most foreigners would end up in Shanghai if they’re interested in China. My goals before applying were to learn the basics of business, become more employable and find a job in a sector in China”.
What do you feel you gained most from the two year experience between LBS and Fudan?
“The first year starting at LBS was distinctly different from the second year at Fudan. The first year was kind of like an equaliser. My peers, especially from the MiM programme, had strong business backgrounds and for someone like me who didn’t have much business knowledge I learned a lot. It was the basis of everything – it equipped me with a very practical took kit. The teaching at LBS was very practical focused and the career services were always working on preparing you for the job market which really put a lot of us at equal footing with the rest of our peers. In the second year I had more free time to focus on my thesis and in China it’s very common not to have any classes in the last term of your masters. You spend it working in internships which is very different than the UK and US. The time I had during the second year allowed me to focus on further improving my Mandarin and focus my efforts on my full time job applications”.
What would you say where some challenges that you faced during your time on the programme?
“The first year way a lot more challenging for me personally. At LBS there’s so much to do and so little time – in a good way! As I didn’t have much of a business background I focused most of my time on the academics just because it was new to me. All the extracurricular activities, looking for internships, building a network, socialising and trying to enjoy London was a big challenge while juggling this all, which meant that I had to make conscious decisions on where I wanted to spend my time. I knew I was at one of the best business schools in the world and I’m here to learn business from them so that was my priority. Something that I did get involved in was becoming a student ambassador which I really enjoyed. I still do as much as I can to be involved in the LBS community – I conduct interviews for prospective student etc. I also attended a lot of events for the Emerging Markets club which is also something I’m interested in”.
How did the second year in Shanghai add value to your overall experience, knowledge and career opportunities?
“Besides a few things I’ve already mentioned, like the fact it gives you a lot more breathing room and time to reflect and explore China, I think professionally it gives you a lot of credibility. It shows a commitment to Asia which is hard to communicate as a westerner if you haven’t spent much time there. When I applied for my current job I realised that one of the key things they look for is whether you’re going to stay or leave after one year and go back to Europe. Being able to show I’ve spent time in Asia, studying and living here and being able to cope. A place like China which can be very overwhelming if you don’t speak the language. Being able to show that you’ve adapted well, you’ve spent time there and that you’ve enjoyed it adds a lot of credibility to any application you make”.
The Careers Centre offers our students a variety of services that aid and guide them in their job search, what did you benefit most from?
“One of the first things they support you with upon starting the programme is your CV. They help you sharpen and tailor it to your role/industry of interest – I still use the CV template to this day. Through the coaching I was able to sharpen and clarify exactly what I was looking for so rather than applying to 50 companies which was more of a shot gun approach, I was able to narrow it down to a handful of companies and specific graduate programmes. So rather than writing 50 applications, I would write 5, or even fewer, which helped me improve the quality of my applications. With unlimited access to one-to-one coaching with the Career Coaches and Sector Leads I was able to book sessions which were designed around my needs. Whether you want support in evaluating your career options, perfecting your application materials, or preparing for upcoming interviews and assessment centres they support with it all. I did quite a few of the practise assessment and almost every job and graduate schemes I applied for had an assessment centre which allowed me to familiarise myself with the format and adapt to difficult unknown situations. Another eye opener was experiencing how competitive the assessment centres can be and how to make yourself present and unforgettable – like everything else at LBS it was very practical”.
Do you recall your summer internship?
“I did a summer internship at Aon Benfield which is an insurance broking and employee benefits company in London. I was put in a team for insurance broking focusing on the Japanese market. They offered for me to come back after I had completed my year in Fudan. I had expressed to them that I would like to go back to Asia, so they offered that once I had worked in London for a couple of years I could be sent to one of their Asian offices, which at the time was my plan. I was very set on that offer. It really gave me a lot of confidence that I had the option to go back and secure the role after I had completed my final year in Shanghai. After having time during my year at Fudan to reflect and explore my other options I didn’t take the offer”.
What do you think are the true benefits of being part of the global LBS alumni network?
“One of the first things that really struck me from the time I was first applying, to being a student and even since graduating, is that all the alumni are really happy to give you advice. Whether it’s replying to an email, offering to meet up for coffee or just a quick chat – it’s a very interesting space. There’s opportunities for jobs or internships if that’s what you’re looking for. Doing business or getting connected through alumni with someone relevant to your work or industry is common. Last year was obviously challenging due to not being able to see people in person but even through the pandemic I found it fascinating how the different LBS alumni clubs managed to organise events and talks which I attended. For me the benefit is a network of people that you’re able to tap into and also contribute to. I know I’m still early in my career but I aim to repay those favours to the community when I’m more senior”.
What advice would you give to prospects looking to apply to the GMiM to ensure the programme is the right choice for them?
“I would definitely recommend they speak to some of the alumni. My year was the very first year to do the GMiM programme and I’m sure it’s evolved and changed since then but we had a variety of experiences in my year. Some people loved it – like myself and others couldn’t wait to go back. You have this amazing opportunity of being at one of the best schools in China and located in Shanghai, so think about how you want to get the most out of that time and experience. I believe you will get the most out of it if you actually want to be in Asia so if going back to your home country is your plan then the GMiM is probably not for you. For me the second year held great value because it was aligned with my goals but for those who have no intentions in settling in Asia it could potentially be an expensive gap year for you. So if you’re committed to Asia or at least you’re curious or open to it then that’s the first step. The second would be to think about how you look to spend your time. There were less formal organised activities in the second year unlike LBS where you have all the clubs to get involved in. If you’re interested in travelling and learning the language then you’ll love the second year”.
Were there any particular highlight for you during your GMiM journey?
“There’s many fond memories for me and in general I would very much recommend the GMiM programme – I thought it was fantastic. One of my favourite highlights was during my year at Fudan. A few of the GMiM cohort decided we were going to train for a marathon to stay active and do something new. Myself and a fellow GMiM ended up running the Great Wall Marathon in Beijing. We trained for months – we both started unfit and were not runners at all. That was something crossed off the bucket list! It was really fun to experience that together and develop a bond through the training and suffering – but in the end it was very much worth it. Another highlight at Fudan was that there was a lot more mixing of the group. At LBS there are so many people and there’s so much going on I felt the GMiM community was non-existent because of how small our cohort is. At Fudan I was able to engage on a more personal level with everyone because you’re no longer in huge lecture theatres making it more intimate. I also found there to be more mixing between the Chinese and non-Chinese GMiM student compared to the first year at LBS where your close friends would often be from a similar background – at Fudan that changed which I think is what the programme intended to do”.
We’re here to help: To support you in making the right decision when considering the GMiM programme we recommend reaching out to our ambassadors and alumni who are happy to share their experiences and reflections. To gain more information about the programme structure, application process and requirements get in touch with the recruitment team. They offer 1:1 consultations and profile feedback to support you in submitting the strongest application possible. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.