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More Than A Third Of 2021 MBA Employment Already Impacted By Covid-19

students on campus

We know coronavirus has made it hard on MBAs who graduated this year. A new report shows that the MBA Class of 2021 may have it even tougher.

In its annual survey of platform users seeking jobs, RelishCareers found that 36% of 2021 MBA candidates have had job offers and internships rescinded or changed because of the ongoing health crisis. That’s an increase from a little over 20% of 2020 MBA graduates who reported the same.

“Offers extended to the Class of 2021 have been hit hardest by the virus, due to the fact that internships are less essential in an emergency,” reads the report, published today (August 13).

RelishCareers graph


Employment outcomes have been a hot topic since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March and subsequent havoc wrought on global markets. The chaos has not spared MBA programs and their graduates; as we reported in the spring, many top firms and companies across industries already had planned to rescind and freeze both full-time jobs and internship offers. In an exclusive Poets&Quants study from earlier this year, some 44% of MBAs who reported having job offers said their start dates had been delayed — some all the way into 2021.

Most summer MBA internships were also impacted in some way, with high numbers of MBAs reporting their internships canceled or offers rescinded, the same survey revealed.

The far-reaching effects of coronavirus on graduate business education have led many B-schools to get creative with their resources. One school, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, launched a “consulting corps”; another, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, invested heavily in new “virtual classrooms” that mimic the in-person experience as closely as possible. A study from earlier this month found nearly 60% of business schools have expanded staff and offerings at career services offices.


International students have been affected more by the spread of Covid-19, the RelishCareers data say.

“In comparing the outcomes of domestic and international students, we can see clearly the disproportionate impact on students hailing from overseas, whose offers were affected at a much higher rate than their domestic counterparts,” the report reads.

Around 65% of international MBAs reported their offers haven’t been impacted by the global pandemic compared to almost 80% of domestic MBAs. So about 35% of international students confirmed their job offers have been rescinded or changed because of COVID-19 compared to less than 20% of U.S. citizen MBA students saying the same.

RelishCareers graph

In terms of perceptions of how Covid-19 is impacting employment opportunities and job offers, most MBAs — both international and domestic — either “agree” or “strongly agree” that the pandemic has impacted their ability to get an offer. But again, the data skewed more to international students being impacted. Almost 50% of international MBAs strongly agreed Covid-19 has impacted their ability to get a job offered compared to less than 40% of U.S. citizens. More U.S. citizens “agreed” Covid-19 impacted their ability to get a job offer than international students.

“Overall, our research indicates dramatic impacts on hiring outcomes during the 2019-2020 recruiting season as a result of the global pandemic, as one would expect from such sudden and severe restrictions on in-person gatherings, travel, and more,” the report says. “These impacts are particularly acute for first year MBAs and international students.”

Of course, the other potential new development impacting this is President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend the H-1B visa through the end of 2020.

RelishCareers graph

Certain industries are seeing higher percentages of hiring compared to others. However, the data comes with the major caveat that this is the first year RelishCareer asked industry-specific questions, so there’s no way of knowing if the results have been impacted by the pandemic. Still, manufacturing, investment banking, and healthcare jobs seem to be the most stable for MBAs. More than 80% of MBAs seeking jobs in each of those industries reported landing job offers.

Private equity and venture capital jobs, however, were much tougher to find. Only about a quarter of MBAs seeking jobs in those industries reported having job offers. Those two industries are notoriously tougher to break into. Surprisingly, technology and consulting jobs were also tougher to come by than all other industries besides private equity and venture capital. RelishCareers’ report pointed out that could be because of the popularity and increased competition found in those two industries.

“Even setting aside PE/VC, popular fields like consulting and technology have greater numbers of candidates without offers,” the report says. “Those two fields were each the industries of >25% of respondents, so perhaps sheer numbers led to greater competition.”

RelishCareers graph

Also a first for this annual survey, RelishCareers looked at number of job offers each respondent reported in correlation with “independent variables” for each candidate like graduation year, age, gender, international or domestic, and preferred industry. What they found is being in or graduating from a full-time MBA still has a high correlation with job offers. Seeking a job in healthcare also has a positive correlation with landing at least one job offer.

Interestingly, respondents preferring to go into technology had the most negative correlation with job offers. Graduating in 2020 had the next most negative correlation to landing a job offer, followed by age, international students needing sponsorship, and male students.

RelishCareers graph

Still, having an MBA seems to be a net-positive on the job market.

“Being in a full-time MBA program is still highly correlated with number of offers and offer / no offer status. In the regressions, this correlation is the most statistically significant of the predictors,” the report concludes. “So, for those seeking an MBA-level job, part-time programs or MS degrees may not be a substitute for being in a full-time MBA program.”