McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68

Even With An MBA, It’s Hard To Switch Careers

Career Switch

Why It’s So Hard to Switch Careers

“Boy, did I make a mistake.”

Sound familiar? Many college graduates voice those doubts after a year on the job. If you’re teaching 6th graders, you’re weary from the parents blaming you. If you’re slaving at an investment bank, you wonder if there’s life beyond the almighty dollar. If you’re pitching software, you dream of sitting on the other side of the desk. It’s natural. You gravitated towards a major with visions of big paychecks or making a difference. Eventually, it hits you: Change is slow. The system is rigged. And you’ll rarely get a shot to flash your real talents.

So where do you go? Business school, baby! After a few years in the trenches, you’ve probably found your passion. Chances are, you convinced an adcom that you had a vision to go along with it. After earning an MBA, you’d think employers would laud you for following through and investing in yourself. Companies should be chasing after you, with an MBA symbolizing your brainpower and dependability. According to a new study, that’s not necessarily the case.

This week, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released a working paper called “Exploration for Human Capital: Evidence from the MBA Labor Market.” Authored by Kenan-Flagler’s Camelia Kuhnen and Stanford’s Paul Oyer, the paper finds that employers consider some MBAs far from a sure bet when hiring. Since many employers value past performance and expertise in hiring selections, MBAs transitioning to a new career are deemed to be hiring risks.

According to Quartz, which conducted an analysis of the study, “employers explicitly look for certainty about productivity and fit in their new hires.” To put it another way, the more experience someone has in an industry or function, the higher the certainty an employer has (and vice versa). In the research of Kuhnen and Oyer, companies were nearly twice as likely to hire the candidate who remained in an industry than the one who’s transitioning into it.

Let’s put it another way. Using odds – where a 1 would mean an employer has no preference one way or another – experienced MBAs were 1.83 times more likely to get the job than less experienced MBAs (i.e. career switchers).


Kuhnen and Oyer also break the data down by high-prestige and low-prestige firms. At the latter, career-switching MBAs are regarded as an even bigger risk, with those firms 2.58 times more likely to make an offer to an ‘experienced’ MBA (compared to 1.57 at a prestigious firm).

The reason? Quartz cites that more prestigious firms have “a steady stream of applicants.” In other words, they have the scale and budget to more easily replace hiring mistakes. More prestigious firms – which often serve more diversified clients – may also require a broader range of industry experience and skill sets. As a result, they are more apt to take a flier on someone with limited industry experience.

Conversely, low-prestige firms are generally more focused on survival, where training and development are luxuries. As a result, experience is premium to them. They simply cannot absorb the cost and risk of hiring a potentially weak performer who may need to be replaced.

That’s particularly evident with internships. At low-prestige firms, high certainty interns are 3.57 times more likely to receive an offer than low certainty candidates. That number drops to 1.74 at high prestige employers.

Every hire comes with some uncertainty. But MBAs are often six-figure hires. While they may own successful track records in other industries, that prowess may not translate to new markets, practices, and expectations. And some companies simply cannot afford to stand back while these hires find their way. So here’s the lesson: If you’re an MBA who lacks industry experience and referrals, you might be better off targeting larger and more prestigious firms.


Source: Quartz