Only A Minor Jobs Slump For 2020 MBAs? Most Schools See It That Way

October is the month when business schools usually release employment reports, but few have been published in a timely fashion in this year of coronavirus — so we continue to wonder what the final employment picture will look for MBAs in a wild year of rescinded offers and remote onboarding, among other challenges.

In the absence of hard data, however, we now have a new survey about schools’ expectations on the jobs front. Those expectations are more or less what the few released reports have shown.

The MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, a nonprofit association for those working in graduate business career services or employing MBAs, conducted its latest Covid-19 tracking survey last month, asking schools how they anticipate overall employment for the Class of 2020 will look compared to the Class of 2019 when the data is finalized. Overall, most of the 96 responding schools responded that they expect a downturn, but not a dramatic one; many others said when all is said and done, they expect little to no discernible difference.

Sixty-four percent of schools say they expect a decrease of less than 20% in job conversion — that is, successful acquisition of jobs. Another 6% anticipate a decrease of 20% or more. However, 23% responded that they expect no change, while 5% said they expect MBAs to do slightly better on the job market than they did a year ago. And 1% said they expect MBAs to do much better — with an increase of 20% or more.



The surveyed schools — four-fifths of which are in the United States — were also asked about internship conversions for the newly graduated Class of 2020, whose internships this summer were anything but routine. Are they seeing a difference in intern conversions for the Class of 2020? Most — 38% — say they are not. But a large portion, 35%, responded that they have seen a decrease. Eight percent have actually seen an increase, while 19% don’t yet have enough data — even as we get further from spring graduation.

In the survey’s final question, MBA CSEA asked whether schools were coaching students in certain virtual skills. Ninety-one percent said they are coaching their MBA students in engaging with employers virtually; only slightly fewer, 90%, are coaching students in how to improve their virtual presence. Another 11% said they were providing coaching in “other,” which for most schools means virtual interviewing, MBA CSEA Executive Director Megan Hendricks says; and 5% said they are not providing coaching at all on virtual presence.

Besides the 80% of respondents that are U.S.-based B-schools, 16% are European, and the other 4% are Asian-Pacific.



For the most part, MBA CSEA’s findings comport with the relatively few employment reports that have been released so far this fall. At USC Marshall School of Business, employment rates at both graduation and three months later were about 5 percentage points lower for the MBA Class of 2020. At the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, 88% of the class had found work by graduation, same as last year, and 90% by three months afterward, only a slight decline.

At NYU Stern School of Business, Class of 2020 MBAs received job offers and accepted them at a slightly lower rate than 2019 and previous years: 92% received after three months, down about 3 points, and 89% accepted, down 5. Recognizing how much worse it could have been, Beth Briggs, associate dean of career services, says the school’s careers office deserves huge credit after shifting into high gear over the summer to secure employment for the MBAs whose offers were rescinded or who were disinclined to accept offers that had been materially affected by the pandemic.

As Briggs told Poets&Quants last month, the work continues assisting all those who need help.

“When the pandemic hit in early spring, the Office of Career Development quickly adapted and went into overdrive to add even more support for students that contributed to strong employment outcomes that exceeded what we saw during the 2008 recession,” Briggs says. “We are extremely proud that 88.8% of graduates accepted jobs within three months of graduation. We are continuing to support students in their job searches with several more continuing to accept jobs past the three-month mark at pace with the just-in-time hiring picking up in the market now, pushing us past 90% at this moment in time.

“The Class of 2020 is incredibly special to us and has displayed a level of resilience and persistence in a year like no other. We are so proud of all that they have accomplished.”



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