This year’s job market for MBAs from the top business schools was exceptionally strong with the vast majority of schools reporting that nine or more out of every ten graduates had job offers within three months of graduation.
Among the top schools, however, there were a couple of surprises. The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business reported that only 77% of its Class of 2012 had job offers three months after getting their degrees–a significant decline from the 91% who had job offers a year earlier. It’s unclear why the school’s graduates fared so poorly in the Los Angeles metro area when 91% of UCLA’s MBAs reported that they had gotten job offers within three months.
The school’s career services office, however, was going through a transition to new leadership. Gary Fraser, the new Assistant Dean and Executive Director of Career Services, started his position in June of 2012 after coming to Marshall from New York University’s Stern School of Business. The school had been engaged in a national search for a new head of career services so the office was in flux for most of the recruiting season for the Class of 2012.
“It is somewhat driven by the transition,” Fraser told Poets&Quants. “We didn’t have someone staying in touch with all the students through the process. So there was an unknown population that wasn’t using the office as much.” The top position had been unfilled for most of the recruiting year along with a couple of other critical positions, including a career coach for international students.
Fraser said he commissioned an external review of the office by former career service officers from Kellogg, Yale and London Business School in July. He’s using that review and a survey of current students to restructure the office to do more “personalized career services” that would be better suited for a school with only 220 graduates versus a more industry-structured approach that had been used.
The low jobs offer rate does not bode well for Marshall’s standing in BusinessWeek’s forthcoming ranking on Nov. 15. In the magazine’s 2010 ranking, Marshall’s full-time MBA program ranked 26th, down one spot from 25th in 2008. With nearly one in four grads without offers three months after graduation, the school’s graduate satisfaction numbers–an important element of BW’s ranking–are likely to plummet.
Southern Methodist University’s Cox School also appeared to lose some ground. on the job front. The school reported that only 79% of its MBA class this year had job offers three months after graduation–down four percentage points from 83% a year earlier.
HALF OF 30 TOP SCHOOLS REPORTED IMPROVED JOB PLACEMENT RATES
By and large, however, there was plenty of reason for optimism. Half of 30 top U.S. business improved their job placement rates, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek which collected the jobs data from the schools in preparation for its forthcoming 2012 ranking project. “There were no dramatic increases in job placement rates,” BusinessWeek reported, “but schools that saw improvement managed to boost their offer rates by anywhere from one to four percentage points over last year.”
Emory’s Goizueta School posted the highest job offer rate this year, with 98% of the Class of 2012 with offers of employment within three months, up three percentage points from 95% in 2011. Four other prominent schools followed Emory, each with 96% of their graduates getting job offers within three months: UC-Berkeley Haas, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan, and Columbia Business School.
LOWER JOB OFFER RATES ARE SOMETIMES A SIGN THAT MBAS ARE ACTUALLY MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT THEIR PROSPECTS
In some cases, slightly lower job placement rates may reflect the fact that MBAs are feeling more confident about landing their dream job–and are more willing to hold out for the offer they really want. In all probability, that is what is behind the small declines at Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth. Harvard reported that 95% of its MBAs had job offers three months after graduation, down from 97% a year earlier. Stanford reported that 90% of its MBAs had job offers three months after getting their degrees, down from 95% last year. Dartmouth reported a decline of two percentage points to 95% this year, from 97% in 2011.
BusinessWeek reported that consulting was the most popular employer of MBAs at the top schools, followed by financial services. “Other hot industries for graduates this year were technology, consumer products, and energy,” the magazine said. “Meanwhile, employers such as Boston Consulting Group, Amazon.com, and McKinsey were active on the recruiting scene, snapping up many of this year’s most promising MBA graduates and ranking as top employers on many business school campuses.”
(See following pages for our table of employment rates at 30 top U.S. business schools)