The Kids Are Alright: MBAs Find Financial and Personal Reward After Graduation
Cue the theme to St. Elmo’s Fire. Oh, what a time it was. You made life-long friends. You changed your views on so many things. And you learned it was possible to live off a diet of ramen noodles, coffee, and imported beer. But now the ‘kids are all grown up.’ They’ve landed jobs as consultants and investment bankers…if they didn’t start their own company, that is. By now, it’s probably safe to ask these graduates the most existential of questions: “Was it all worth it?”
The answer? A resounding “Yes!”
That was the big finding from a recent survey of 849 members of the Class of 2014 worldwide. Conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) earlier this fall, the survey covered their employment, pay, and the value they placed on their B-school programs.
So let’s start with what’s on everyone’s mind: Employment. Unlike law school, there are jobs after graduate school (unless you’re Canadian, apparently). In the United States, 87 percent of full-time MBA graduates held jobs within three or four months of graduation, with one-year degree-holders trailing slightly at 82 percent. As expected, executive, part-time, and online MBAs – who often balanced work and school during their programs – scored in the mid-to-upper 90s. But if you’re serious about landing work, check out India, where full-time MBAs had already notched 97 percent employment. Conversely, Europeans and Canadians averaged 68 and 67 percent respectively.
Alas, when Europeans and Canadian MBAs could find work, they were compensated handsomely, averaging $75,900 and $75,600. However, Americans still polled the highest at $92,500 salaries for full-time MBAs (excluding bonuses) and $84,000 overall. Despite nearly full employment for graduates from India, their $25,200 wage – even with the cost of living and working in Asia – doesn’t go too far.
That’s true even in the technology and consulting fields, which absorb over half of Indian MBAs. In Canada and Asia-Pacific, over half of the Class of 2014 ended up in consulting and finance, while consulting attracts nearly a third of Europeans. Among Americans, products and services (19 percent) and finance (16 percent) were the top draws.
While the real estate mantra may be “location, location, location,” the MBA’s mantra is “right employer in the right industry at the right time.” Overall, products and services (20 percent), consulting (17 percent), finance (16 percent) and technology (16 percent) topped MBA preferences, followed by health care (10 percent), government and non-profit (8 percent), manufacturing (8 percent), and energy and utilities (5 percent). Within this sample, three percent of respondents described themselves as underemployed.
In the United States, it is a great time to be an MBA (when it comes to income, that is). This year, average starting salaries jumped by $4,000, with bonuses rising by $2,250. Since 2010, GMAC reports that MBA compensation leaped by $14,000 (excluding bonus, which has only inched up $250 in four years).
With employment and salaries rising, it’s almost a no-brainer that MBAs would do it all over again. And the GMAC survey respondents agree. 95 percent considered an MBA to be an outstanding value (though that number was 86 percent for graduates looking for work). Another 95 percent would recommend an MBA to others. And 92 and 88 percent found their program to be personally and professionally rewarding respectively (though the number drops to 66 percent when it comes to be financially rewarding).
Yes, MBAs are doing all right. As one respondent wrote, the journey was about more than a good job and a fat paycheck. “The value of education cannot be measured in quantitative terms like ROI, rather in qualitative effects like change in mindset, strong peer bond, and professional network—not to mention the ‘branded for life’ tag.”
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