At Columbia, Consulting Overtakes Finance As The No. 1 Career Choice

One of many photos posted to Instagram by celebrating Columbia Business School MBA students

LITTLE COMPARATIVE LOVE OF TECH AT COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL

Columbia said that 94.1% of its Class of 2018 had at least one job offer within three months of graduation, up from 93.2% a year earlier. Some 90.1% of the students accepted those offers, also up from 89.3% last year.

Putting aside consulting’s rise, the bigger surprise in Columbia’s 2018 employment report is the comparatively fewer students going into the tech industry. Just 14.4% of the class accepted jobs with tech firms, less than a one percent increase over the 13.7% who went into tech last year. That’s on a par with Wharton’s 14.9% total this year. But at both Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, a record 28% of this year’s class headed into tech. Tech companies also drew a record 20.3% of the Class of 2018 at Chicago Booth.

But tech generally doesn’t dangle the highest pay offers in front of students. CBS grads who joined hardware, software and telecom companies–roughly 5% of the class–earned median salaries of just $117,000, well below the $147,000 paid in consulting or the $140,000 paid in diversified financial services. MBAs who took jobs in e-commerce and internet services did better at $130,000, the class median, but still below most employed in finance and consulting, particularly when you add up all the extra compensation pulled down by MBAs in finance.

JOB CONTENT NUMBER ONE REASON FOR ACCEPTING A JOB

Columbia does something unusual in its annual employment report. Beyond asking graduates the standard questions on pay and placement, it also seeks perspective on why MBAs accept a job offer and their satisfaction with the job they’ve taken. Some 93% of students this year rated their job satisfaction a four or five on a scale of one to five, with five reflecting the highest level of satisfaction.

The three top reasons why a Columbia MBA accepted a job offer? It’s not money, according to the survey. Number one was the actual content of the job (38.4%); second was the firm’s culture (28.5%), followed by the potential for professional and personal growth (21.3%). The previous Class of 2017 had a slightly different twist on the answers. That class put growth potential first (35%), job content second (31%), and firm culture third (22%). Less than 2% of the Class of 2017 cited salary as the primary reason for accepting a job offer.

In the financial services industry, the largest group of MBAs–12.3%–went into investment banking and brokerage jobs, followed by investment management (6.8%), private equity (4.9%), commercial banking and credit cards (2.7%), diversified financial services (1.8%), venture capital (1.6%), and hedge funds/mutual funds (1.6%).

THE SCHOOL FACILITATED 80% OF THE MBA JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Besides the shifts among consulting, finance and tech, 6.8% of the class went into a category that Columbia calls “manufacturing,” even though it includes consumer products and beverages. Another 4% went into real estate, with just 1.8% of the class choosing healthcare and retail, and a slim 1.6% headed into the combined non-profit, education and government sectors.

Columbia sid that 80% of the job opportunities for the class were sourced by the school. Some 44% came as a result of on-campus interviews, 16% by job postings, 8% by networking, 6% by corporate events, and 3% through alumni or faculty resume referrals. The remaining 20% of job offers were facilitated by students, with 9% attributing their offers to networking, 2% to job postings and 1% to their previous employers.

According to the school, out of its class of 727 MBA students, 85 returned to a sponsoring employer, 37 started their own businesses, and 15 went to a family business. The school’s compensation and employment data excludes these graduates.

DON’T MISS: AT KELLOGG, TECH BECOMES NEARLY AS POPULAR AS CONSULTING or RECORD TOTAL PAY AT CHICAGO BOOTH AS TECH GAINS FAVOR

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.