Investigating the MBA Career Survey Results

By - Aug 11, 10:10 AM Comments [0]

I just saw three articles reporting from different vantage points on MBA employment. Businessweek took a “the sky is falling” perspective in its article, “MBA Recruiting Is Down Again,” which begins with the words, “MBA recruiting deteriorated this spring largely because of declines at top-ranked schools, with nearly half of all business schools surveyed reporting that on-campus hiring activity was little changed or had decreased, according to new research.”

Here are some key findings from the survey:

• In last year’s survey, only 36% of schools reported flat or decreased on-campus recruiting activity. This year, that number jumped to nearly half of b-schools surveyed.
• Whereas only 9% of second-tier schools and 10% of lower ranked schools reported recruiting declines, in the top twenty schools, 44% reported flat recruiting and 22% reported a decline.
• 20% of schools reported a decline in recruiting activity in the finance industry. But dire as that may sound, it is a 20% improvement over last year where more than 40% of schools reported a recruiting decrease in finance.
• 57% of schools reported an increase in hiring by startups less than one year old. Last year, only 30% reported such an increase.

The Wall Street Journal is basically upbeat in its article, “Recruiting of M.B.A.s by Startups Is Rising,” but does acknowledge that recruiting has been flattest at the elite schools.

P&Q provided the most info in its article, “Startups Recruiting More MBAs,” which focuses heavily and optimistically on the surge of hiring in new startups. According to Jack Oakes, assistant dean for career development at UVA Darden and co-chair of the Research & Trends Committee, “A growing number of MBA students are focusing on entrepreneurship, either by starting their own business or helping other students start theirs. Reports from large and small MBA programs confirm the increased student interest in a range of entrepreneurial endeavors.”

Here are few nice graphics from P&Q:

Career1

And another one:

Career2

And a third:

Career3

My 2¢

I agree with WSJ and P&Q that this is a mostly upbeat report showing a good if not great market for MBAs except in financial services. If anything it is showing that demand for MBAs is increasing outside the top ten. Furthermore, demand for an MBA is growing outside the traditional financial services and consulting industries. However, the reality is that salaries in most industries will not match those that used to be routine in financial services.

Furthermore, I think that this and all the other data about the shrinking financial services industry should cause applicants to think twice if they want to pursue an MBA and switch into financial services. It’s not impossible, but clearly is getting harder. Relevant experience prior to the MBA is going to be increasingly important as long as jobs are in short supply.







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