A ‘Silver Lining’ For MBAs During The COVID Recession

Despite the uncertainty over classes and employment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there may well be a ‘silver lining’ of sorts for coming internship and full-time job offers for MBA students over the next year. Nearly six of every ten business schools is expanding their career offices with the expectation that more companies will engage with them in the new virtual environment.

That surprising outcome is from a new survey published today (Aug. 3) by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, a trade group representing more than 250 business schools and corporations. The Alliance found that 58% of the responding 134 business schools will be adding to their career management staff. Some 45% of the schools said they plan to expand to serve more alumni who have been displaced by the pandemic and are seeking assistance with their job searches.

Megan Hendricks, executive director of the alliance, told Poets&Quants that the 58% number surprised her.”But once I thought about it, I realized that it actually agrees with what we’ve been hearing anecdotally,” she says. “About half of the schools have told us they are expecting an increase in recruiting based on easier access in a virtual environment, and around half have said the economic environment will have the opposite effect. We may also be seeing companies expand their reach to additional schools because it’s easier to do so now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are hiring more students.”


The survey, fielded July 22 through July 29, also found that 84% of the responding schools are committed to using a hybrid model for classes in the fall, with 13% moving to fully online delivery. Not surprisingly, COVID has abruptly shifted most career management functions online. Schools noted a variety of methods for career service delivery, with 96% doing virtual career fairs and 83% pivoting campus interviews to virtual. Some 85% of the employer info sessions during the upcoming term will be 100% virtual, according to the survey (see below).

About 35% of the business schools expected these shifts to last until at least the end of 2020, while 31% expect the changes to flow into the 2021 year. Another 34% say they have yet to determine how long the shift will last.

How Schools Will Run Career Services In The Next Term

Source: Global survey of business school officials in July by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance

In addition to the finding on the expansion of career services, some 46% of responding business school officials also told the Alliance that the career services team will be more involved in facilitating campus recruiting activities (see below). Some 37% believe their career department will become more of a strategic partner within the larger university.

How the Role of Career Services Will Change in Upcoming Months

Source: Global survey of business school officials in July by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance

And when it comes to what the fall term will look like for MBA students, the survey discovered that the vast majority of schools are attempting a blended format of in-person and online classes (see below), though it is not clear from the survey what percentage of the classes will be face-to-face on campus compared to those that will only be virtually available. It’s possible, if not likely, that the 84% of the responding schools committed to using a hybrid model might be forced entirely or mostly online as coronavirus cases soar throughout the U.S. Only last week, for example, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School announced a shift from a fully hybrid format to mostly online due to worries over the safety of students and faculty and UC-Berkeley, which had also planned a hybrid opening, moved to begin the fall semester with fully remote instruction. Berkeley will continue to prepare for select in-person classes as soon as public health conditions allow.

Teaching Models For Upcoming Classes This Fall

Source: Global survey of business school officials in July by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance

Of the 134 responding schools, 82% were from North America, 12% from Europe, 3% from Asia, 2% from Africa, and 2% from Oceana.



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