Let’s take a survey. Raise your hand if career services will be your deciding factor in picking a business school. No? Does it even rank in your top three? That’s no surprise. The MBA career center is as underappreciated as clean water and electricity. Let’s face it: networks, pay, scholarships, and brand recognition are often the biggest draws for applicants. That is, until your dream employer ignores your calls or your internship sours. Then, you’ll need a partner to sharpen your message and clean up your bad habits.
Few MBA programs do that better than Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. For starters, the career team gets involved even before students are accepted into the program, says Karthik Chandrasekaran, an alum of IBM and Infosys and one of the 92 members of Fisher’s 2018 full-time MBA class. “Of the several b-school interviews that I had attended, Fisher was the only one that had an interview with a career consultant,” he notes. “This interaction gave me an insight into guidance they provide in matching my skills with the right job opportunity.”
CONSISTENTLY RANKS AMONG THE TOP CAREER CENTERS
Mireille Hartley, who climbed the ranks of Teach for America to become chief of staff to the executive director in Memphis, was also surprised by the attention she received from career services. During her campus visit, a career coach quizzed on her personal motivations and explained what she could expect as a Fisher MBA student. She quickly discovered that the hallmark of the Office of Career Management, if not the entire program, was personalized attention. “I was so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of support I received, both as an applicant and accepted student, that I just knew that Fisher was the program for me,” she says.
Before even stepping foot on campus, Fisher candidates must complete a series of online career modules. Career support only intensifies once students arrive in Columbus, adds Shashi Matta, director of MBA programs and an associate professor of marketing at the school. “The two week pre-term program in mid-August includes a three-day comprehensive career conference where students draw a personal career plan, get exposed to post-MBA careers, interact with a large number of recruiters, and alumni who work at top employers. Right after the pre-term, students get a one-on-one intake interview with a career coach who then works with them throughout the length of the program in being a career coach and mentor.”
Such efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. According to a 2016 student survey conducted by The Economist, Fisher’s career management office finished 8th in the world for opening up new career opportunities. That’s after finishing 3rd in the previous survey. Employers were also impressed, with 2016 Fisher MBA grads pulling down $100,072 starting salaries, along with $19,985 average signing bonuses (not to mention an impressive 92% placement rate within three months of graduation). Such close ties with employers, along with “a record of proven career placement with a winning culture” drew Marisa Ratajczak back to her hometown to earn her MBA. “They boast a 90% career placement rate and an impressive 80% of Fortune 100 companies recruit there. The program looks great on paper but what really sold me was how welcoming the people were at my campus visit. Business school has a reputation for being cutthroat but Fisher students, faculty, and staff encourage each other to work together and build each other up.”
FIRST YEAR WRITES THE BLUEPRINT FOR BEING A FIRST RESPONDER
Fisher sums up its brand promise in two simple words: “Go beyond.” The Class of 2018 epitomizes this mantra. Murphy Jordan Goodman, a lieutenant and cyptologic warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, shares that he had to learn how to walk again twice this year as a result of a bilateral hip condition. Chandrasekaran has mastered swimming, tennis, and flying so he could “pursue a sport in each of the three elements: land, water and air.” Despite suffering from acrophobia (fear of heights), Rajani Singh has skydived and plans to bungee jump next. Forget the grocery list: Averie Kenney makes most of her own products, including cleaner, soaps, and lotions, from scratch. And Thais Batista Ronconi possesses a “super sensitive” sense of smell that would make a beagle jealous. “I can guess what kind of food is being prepared from a long distance and more specifically I can also identify the ingredients that were used,” she admits.
The class has also made names for themselves long before enrolling at Fisher. Kenney, for example, was responsible for “transforming the JPMorgan Asset Management Asia Operating model to support $50 billion plus in assets under management across the region.” Lisa Walsh, another Teach For America veteran, created a curriculum in her charter school to meet the Common Core standards and help her students pass the PARC test. In contrast, Singh takes her greatest pride in climbing the ladder at Goldman Sachs.” It’s a very competitive environment and you have to do your best every single day,” he observes. “There’s no time off from thinking if you are contributing to yourself and the company.”
If there are any Fisher professors looking for a research assistant, they may want to make a call to Gabriella Terranova, who was most recently an operations officer with the International Medical Corps. Before starting at Fisher, she left her peers with the ultimate parting gift. As first responders, she explains, the corps needs to have a team on the ground within 48 hours of a disaster. Unfortunately, the organization’s process had grown increasingly inefficient as it tripled in size from 2011-2015. To combat this, Terranova turned her four years of experience into “the largest handover note I could imagine” — all in just three weeks time. “I led a team of over fifteen staff from my department in the writing of the document and successfully met the deadline despite competing priorities and the department being understaffed at the time,” she points out. “The end result – a fifty-page document with over fifty annexes finalized shortly before my last day – had my fingerprints throughout, and I am incredibly proud of that.”
SCHOOL CELEBRATES 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY IN 2016
2016 marks a historic year in the Fisher annals. On December 5th, the school will kick off its 100-year centennial, with a keynote address given by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Centennial Award of Distinction given to Leslie Wexner, a Fisher alum and the longest-serving CEO of a Fortune 500 firm (L Brands, Inc.). The year was also a high point for incoming MBAs in several categories. The Class of 2018’s average GMAT scores shot up from 664 to 671, with scores ranging from 610-730. The percentage of women also rose by 4%, while the percentage of international students held steady at 35%. That said, the number of applications slipped from 606 to 575 during the 2015-2016 cycle, with the number of students also dropping from 114 to 92. Overall, undergraduate business majors comprise 41% of the class, followed by engineering (17%), science and technology (16%), social sciences (10%), and arts and humanities (7%).
“Our incoming class of 92 MBA candidates are from 15 different countries, have 10 veterans, and include 35% international and 27% female students,” Matta adds. “They’re most excited about the close-knit student body, the brand new Fisher Leaders program, the strength and breadth of the experiential learning opportunities, and the signature global consulting program, GAP (Global Applied Projects), which includes three weeks of global consulting project experience at an international destination.”