4 Ways to Incorporate Status into Your US MBA Experience

US Culture - status v. balance

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US Culture | Status vs. Balance Motivation

4 Ways to Incorporate Status into Your US MBA Experience

by: Grayson Leverenz

“What did you do before business school?” Fresh-faced 1st year MBA students answer that question at least 10 times a day for about the first full month of their MBA programs. It’s a perfectly normal way to start a conversation for American students. In US culture, what you do defines who you are. This is the essence of Status Motivation.

Let’s look at the scale for the Motivation dimension of culture. The scale runs from 1 to 5, where 1 indicates Balance motivates society and 5 indicates Status motivates society. The US ranks a solid 5. Americans are undoubtedly driven to succeed, and in few places is this more evident than in the MBA world.

Careers offer a sense of identity in this culture. Higher levels of achievement equate to higher levels of self-worth, and people derive great pleasure from professional success. Americans are goal oriented, and like to be measured against their goals for pay increases, bonuses, promotions, etc.

Here are four ways to incorporate Status Motivation into your MBA in the USA:

Practice your elevator speech to feel comfortable telling people what you did before business school. Remember to pull out some facts that show off your status and encourage people to ask questions.

My answer to that question was, “I managed a marketing research facility at Universal Studios in Orlando. I worked with clients like General Mills, Frito Lay and Coca Cola, mostly doing competitive research or advertising tests.” Highlighting my managerial title and big name clients showed my status, and people always asked more about working at Universal Studios.

This may not feel like socializing to people that come from more Balance motivated cultures, but Americans almost always begin relationships by talking about what they do professionally.

Professors expect students to actively participate in classroom discussions. Participation accounts for up to 50% of your grade in some classes. US students feel very comfortable sharing stories from their previous jobs, and relating their experiences to the coursework.

When you’re preparing for class, pick one or two stories from your previous jobs to contribute to the discussion. When the time comes, raise your hand and share. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but your classmates will appreciate your input and respect your experiences.

In networking situations like Career Fairs or company dinners, expand your elevator speech to include what you want to accomplish during your MBA. American recruiters relate to goal setting, and respond to achievement oriented people. For example, “I’m concentrating in marketing, and pursing an internship in Brand Management for the summer.”

Interviewing is the single most important time to embrace the US Status Motivation. Interviewers expect you to talk about your previous job responsibilities, and highlight your achievements. They want to ensure future employees are goal oriented, driven professionals.

The idea of Status Motivation may seem very unusual for people coming from Balance Motivation societies. Developing cultural fluency will help make you a more successful global businessperson, and help you have some fun along the way!

Special thanks to RW3 for their support of the US Culture series.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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