Business Schools Continue To See Cancelled Internships, Hiring Freezes

Job prospects are hitting up against a deep recession

Another week, another bleak survey report around MBA hiring. The latest, from MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), asked MBA career offices around the world about the top-three short-term trends they are seeing in the job market. Among the 75 schools that responded, the most popular response to the open-ended prompt, given by 11 schools, was “Hiring freezes.” Another eight schools reported a trend of delays — in some cases of up to six months even into January of next year — in start dates for full-time jobs.

Internships, however, have been much more impacted, according to the data. “We’ve been hearing that internships have been impacted a lot more than full-time hiring,” says Megan Hendricks, executive director of MBA CSEA. Among responding schools in the new survey, eight reported “cancelled internships” as one of the top trends. Another eight listed “internships turned virtual,” and another eight reported “shorter internships.” Of those listing shorter internships as a top trend, some mentioned them shifting entirely to project-based or case studies.

Megan Hendricks of the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance. Courtesy photo


The MBA CSEA survey was conducted between April 23-30. Hendricks says the group did a “similar survey” at the end of March that yielded similar results.

“For the most part, the responses were pretty similar,” she says. “Even though things are changing rapidly, at least in terms of these specific things — hiring freezes, delayed start dates, things like that — it seems to be pretty much the same as what we heard a month ago.”

At the end of March, Poets&Quants reported on a document sent to students at a top U.S. business school from the school’s career services department. It painted a similar picture: Among 116 major companies, 40 reported some form of disruption to their planned full-time and internship hiring.

“The most frequent trends schools are seeing in the short-term are hiring freezes, delayed start dates for full-time positions, and cancelled internships,” Hendricks says. But, she adds, “One important thing to note is the way the question was phrased in the survey. We asked schools to write in the top three trends they are seeing in the short-term. We did this intentionally because we wanted to see what schools consider top of mind without being prompted.”


The data and survey results aren’t all disappointing, Hendricks says. Even with the economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, some industries like technology, logistics, and finance are still able to hire on a normal basis, she says — and even as unemployment numbers soar to eye-popping levels, business schools and MBAs are finding ways to get creative on the job search.

Still, the uncertainty makes schools nervous, something that makes the current climate different from the Great Recession about a decade ago, Hendricks says.

“We don’t really know what is going to happen and when this will end,” she says, adding that she has been hearing it’s easier for MBAs to create opportunities from remote and virtual connections, which is different from the Great Recession. “We didn’t have anything like this before. MBAs, I think, are finding it easier to find project-based work right now so that they can keep up their skills.

Hendricks notes that virtual internships didn’t exist during the last downturn. Their existence, she says, has “helped companies keep their internships going because they can do them virtually.”


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