Last year at this time, I kept checking to ensure that my phone was still working because it wasn't ringing, said Lynn Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Boston's Northeastern University. The good news is that the phone is ringing this year.
According to Sarikas, companies had cut back so drastically during the peak of the recession that they could no longer postpone hiring talent as business rebounds. At MIT Sloan School of Management and University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, recruiting is returning to levels not seen since before the economic meltdown. This upturn was confirmed by the results of the 2010 Corporate Recruiters Survey, a survey of business graduates' employers. This survey, conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC), in cooperation with MBA Career Services Council and The European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), polled almost 2,000 companies worldwide. It included 171 of the US Fortune 500 and looked at employer needs and hiring trends for MBAs and specialized business master's programs.
According to the survey results, the 2010 job market for business school graduates has improved compared with 2009. This year, 55% of employers are planning to hire recent MBA alumni, up 5% from 2009.
Where the opportunities are
The strongest hiring this year is expected in consulting and health care, with 80% of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies and 73% of consulting firms planning to hire MBA graduates according to GMAC's survey.
Additionally, graduating MBAs will see a large number of opportunities in marketing and sales. Almost half of all the companies surveyed planned to hire in these areas followed by financial areas other than investment banking. We are seeing a significant increase in demand for students with a supply chain management concentration and related work experience, says Sarikas. While historically supply chain opportunities were primarily in manufacturing, we are seeing great opportunities in defense, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, financial institutions and more.
Jackie Wilbur, senior director of the career development office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management agrees. One area that's really grabbing students' interest is in consumer product companies, which include medical devices and clean energy. In the MBA Career Services Council spring 2010 survey, energy/petroleum, government, non-profit, healthcare services, pharma/biotech, and technology are also industries with strong recruiting activity.
Meanwhile, Bain and Company's senior director of global recruiting, Mark Howorth, said he's bringing in the largest class of both first-year summer interns and second-year MBA full-time hires in the firm's history.
Rotational management programs, where graduates work across a few functional areas in a company, such as sales or operations, for several months at a time before eventually landing a management role, have also seen a recovery. Stacey Rudnick, director of MBA career services at the University of Texas at Austin, says 27% of offers accepted by 2010 graduating MBAs were for rotational programs at major corporations. In most years that figure would be closer to 18%.
Some schools, like Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, have seen growth in hiring from companies based overseas, particularly in Asia and South America, with higher salaries than in years past. A few years ago, companies abroad just couldn't offer the financial incentives [to hire US graduates], says Blair Sheppard, the school's Dean. Those salaries have increased significantly.
MBA students are regularly receiving job offers from traditional, bulge bracket financial services firms according to findings of a new survey by Training The Street (TTS), a leading corporate training provider for a majority of Wall Street firms and top business schools. The survey, which measured the employment trends among business school students at the top 25 MBA programs, found that 69% of respondents received an internship and/or job offer, and 39% have received more than one offer. More specifically, 60% of second-year MBAs secured a full-time employment offer and 76% of first-year MBAs received a summer internship. After bulge bracket banks, 36% of survey respondents reported that boutique firms are actively recruiting, suggesting growth opportunities at the middle market and micro cap level.
Internship recruiting also showed a stronger rebound in 2010, with 70% of schools reporting an increase in internship recruitment, in comparison to 60% reporting a decrease in 2009. Michelle Antonio, director of career management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, says on-campus internship postings increased 30% for this summer. Investment banking and consulting firms in particular have expanded internship programs. She predicts: This will have a huge impact on the number of students who return to campus for their second year with a full-time offer. At the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 90% of the first-year class landed summer internships, up from 80% last year.
In years past, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) made most of its offers in the fall. This year, BCG completed its hiring for full-time post-MBA's in the spring, reported Mel Wolfgang, a partner and head of Americas recruiting. New hires usually begin work several months after graduation, but the firm is asking new hires to start sooner.
Harvard Business School's Jana Kierstead, managing director of MBA career and professional development, said more recruiters started to extend job offers to students in the spring as the market loosened up.
What career centers are doing to help
The last time there was a [financial] crisis like this, it was 1983, and that's when many of our students were born, said Sloan's Jackie Wilbur. It's the school's job to navigate the job market for them; they just don't have this perspective. To that end, Cornell University's SC Johnson Graduate School of Management assigns career advisers to each student.
To help its students, Harvard Business School enhanced its job coaching program and launched a program in spring 2010 called Network Job Search Fellows, which offers up to US$500 to second-year job seekers who have to travel to other cities for interviews. The school's efforts seem to have paid off; of those seeking full-time jobs, 85% had received an offer by graduation, up from 83% last year.
In spite of the increase in on-campus visits and job postings this year, graduates are more likely to find jobs through solo search efforts, including more aggressive networking efforts and a beefed-up resume. The best candidates pick their target industry, talk to people who work there, and connect their skills with the company's needs. This targeted approach is more important than ever if graduates are to land the job of their choice.