Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%

Can Wall Street Stage An MBA Comeback?

Wall Street

For aspiring bankers in MBA programs, the annual fall Wall Street trek is often the first step in the laborious process of landing a job at one of the prestigious bulge and bracket investment banks. Students fork up the cash for plane fare to New York, scramble to find housing and spend the next four to five days in a whirlwind of presentations, meetings and receptions with senior bankers and alums.

“It’s a lot like dating or fraternity rush,” said Tom Tait, a 2014 graduate of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, who organized last year’s Wall Street Forum trip to New York. “Everyone gets in a circle, you have a conversation and try to make yourself look impressive.”

Wall Street has always had a magnetic pull for a certain group of MBA students who can’t imagine starting their post-MBA career elsewhere. But for others, the finance world, especially in New York, has lost some of its luster in recent years. Interest in the treks had diminished as students who might previously have considered banking as a career option turned their sights elsewhere after the financial meltdown of 2008.  They shied away from an industry with a tarnished reputation, smaller bonuses and flat salaries, and instead turned their sights to careers in technology, consumer products and goods, or start-ups.

A NOW BULLISH WALL STREET IS DRAWING BACK MANY STUDENTS WHO HAD BEEN ON THE FENCE

The siren cry of a now bullish Wall Street is drawing back many students who were on the fence about a banking career. At a number of schools, a larger group of students are heading to New York City, and banks are responding by making a more concerted effort to attract top talent. The harbinger of the trend?  Attendance at Wall Street treks this fall was up at many top twenty schools, with dozens of students signing up for the trips, eager to get their business cards in the hands of recruiters, alums and senior bankers.

“The lure of Wall Street has returned,” said Wallace (Wally) Hopp, the senior associate dean for faculty and research at the Ross School. ”It’s almost as though the collapse never happened.”

There were 35 students who went on the Ross School’s Wall Street Forum last year, a number that jumped to 50 students this fall, Tait said. At Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, 25 students attended the Wall Street trek, up from 20 in 2013. Back in 2010, only 17 Goizueta MBAs made the hike to New York, said Wendy Tsung, the school’s associate dean of MBA Career Services.

MEETING BANKERS FROM CITI, JP MORGAN, CREDIT SUISSE & BARCLAYS

The uptick is indicative of renewed interest from MBAs in Wall Street, Tsung said. At the same time, banks are making a more concerted effort to recruit students, encouraging more senior bankers to be hands-on while students are visiting New York.

“It seems like the trek is more and more important,” Tsung said. “There have been a lot of changes on Wall Street, with more clarity into compensation and everything else. That is helping to renew the interest.”

About 75 students this year attended the Wall Street Trek organized by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business this October, including Anuj Khatiwada, who worked in the education field for five years before heading to business school.  He signed up for the trek because he knew he wanted to get a few years of experience in finance right out of school, an experience he believes will place him in a good position to land jobs in other sectors later in his career, he said. During his trip to New York in October, he met bankers from Citibank, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Barclays, among others.

‘I’M NOT THAT NERVOUS ABOUT ANOTHER DOWNTURN ON WALL STREET BECAUSE IT COULD HAPPEN IN ANY FIELD’

“For someone coming from a non-traditional background, it was the experience I needed to get the exposure to the banks and know it is a great industry to go into,” Khatiwada said. “I’m sure there is a little concern in the back of my mind about another downturn, but I’m not that nervous about it because it could happen in any field.”

That come-what-may attitude is becoming increasingly common on B-school campuses as more MBAs cozy up to the idea of a job on Wall Street.

For example, at Harvard Business School, about 33 percent of the class of 2014 went into financial services, up from 27 percent last year, according to the school’s latest career data. Across the country at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, 29 percent of the class of 2014 took a job in finance, creeping up from 26 percent last year. Meanwhile, only about 24 percent of the class headed to tech jobs, down from 32 percent in 2013, the most recent MBA career data showed.

SOME INVESTMENT BANKS ARE INCREASING THEIR BASE SALARY OFFERS THIS YEAR BY $25,000

And some schools are seeing more aggressive efforts by the investment banks to recruit MBAs. That is especially true at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. “For the first time since before the Great Recession, the investment banks are back on campus recruiting for second year students,” says Jonathan Masland, director of Tuck’s counseling and recruiting in career development. And they have also increased their base salary offers to $125,000 from $100,000. They used to promise MBA hires $25,000 after the first bonus in January. They are bringing it to the time of acceptance. The investment banks really want to attract these students and hire them.”

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.