Consider Vanderbilt University’s Owen School, which reported all-time high placement and pay numbers this year: 95.6% of the school’s graduating MBAs had job offers three months after graduation, up from 91.1% last year, 86.9% in 2011, and 87.1% in 2010. Median salaries for the Class of 2013 showed a sharp increase to $100,000 from $92,000 last year.
“On-campus recruiting is up 15% since the 2010-2011 academic year and the number of companies making multiple offers has grown significantly,” says Reed McNamara, managing director of Owen’s Career Management Center. “Most notable is the rapid rise of Amazon to its position as the most active employer with 13 accepted internship and full-time offers last year.” Other firms with multiple accepted offers, according to McNamara, include Deloitte (8), ExxonMobil (8), DaVita (8), Mattel (8), Nissan North America (6), The North Highland Co. (6), Capgemini (5), and Goldman Sachs (5).
The industries doing the heavy hiring this year was consulting and finance. But an increasing number of MBA graduates went into the technology sectors, often with smaller startup companies, as Harvard reported. And many more started their own companies right out of school, including a record 18% of the Class of 2013 at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
MORE THAN A HANDFUL OF TOP SCHOOLS REPORTED DECLINING PLACEMENT NUMBERS
Amidst the good news on the MBA hiring front, there were still more than a handful of schools reporting declines in job placement. They include Harvard and MIT Sloan, along with the business schools at Duke, Virginia, and UCLA. Though a school’s placement numbers can be off in any given year due to geography or industry focus, highly ranked schools that consistently lag behind the averages are more likely to underinvest in career services function or suffer from lackluster management of the function. But there can be any number of reasons why a school’s placement rates can trail peers or simply fall.
At Virginia’s Darden School, job offers three months after graduation slipped to 89.6% from 94% last year and 95% in 2011. Jack Oakes, assistant dean for career development at Darden, says the drop is the result of several “patterns” that have emerged in recent years. “People are increasingly focused on niche hiring opportunities in very targeted locations,” he says.
“An example would be private equity in San Francisco or commercial real estate in New York City. The other factor is that a number of our grads are searching for jobs with their spouse or partner in mind. It makes it more difficult for some because they are making decisions not only for themselves but also for their partners. And we have more students focused on working for smaller technology companies. That can be a longer search, especially if you want to be out in Silicon Valley where a lot of companies have a ‘show me’ attitude and ask you to come out to the valley first.”
At the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, which reported the lowest placement numbers of any top 30 business school, 18% of the Class of 2013 still had not received a single job offer three months after graduating with the MBA. The 82.0% job offer rate at Marshall, however, was an improvement from last year when the school reported a 77.0% rate which the school attributed to turnover in the leadership of its career services function. A USC spokesperson said “the main difference between those who were waiting on offers after three months is that for the most part this group was seeking and holding out for opportunities they wanted in the tech and entertainment/media industries, which tend to be on a different hiring schedule.”
EMORY’S GOIZUETA: A CASE STUDY IN A WORLD CLASS CAREER SERVICES FUNCTION
Ahead of the pack for two years in a row, Emory’s Goizueta School is making itself a case study in how to manage a world-class career services function. “There is no secret,” says Wendy Tsung, associate dean of MBA career services. “It’s just a lot of hard work. I think a lot of what we have been doing in the last five years has really started to click, from changing the curriculum, to being involved in the admissions process upfront, and to looking at the entire lifecycle of a student.”
One clue to Emory’s chart-topping placement numbers is the fact that for the past five consecutive years–starting when the economy was in the tank–the school has had been able to place 100% of its two-year, full-time MBA students in internships. Close to 60% of its students now return with a job offer in hand. “Our goal is for students to get into a role where they want to be full-time and have the opportunity to convert that internship into a full-time offer,” says Tsung. “We don’t count volunteer work as internships. These students are in real paying jobs that often lead to full-time offers. They are not doing project work.”