Every year, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business graduates its MBAs at the end of April, earlier than all its peer schools. This year — the Coronavirus Year of 2020 — that was problematic timing, says Heather Byrne, managing director of Michigan Ross’s Career Development Office.
“Our students did an incredible job, and our staff did an amazing job supporting them,” Byrne tells Poets&Quants. “Our biggest difference is, our graduation date is April 30th, and that was at the height of the pandemic. We graduate earlier than any other school. And the standards are to take stats at graduation and three months after. So to have the numbers that we did at the end of April, I think, is really great. And then of course our numbers again were the end of July. So I’m really pleased about that. And I think that that says a lot about the tenacity and perseverance of our students and staff as well.”
The Ross MBA Class of 2020 managed to find work at about the same pace as their peers, while getting paid more than their predecessors. In the new Ross employment report released today (December 17), this year’s MBA class reports higher median salaries and median bonuses than the Class of 2019, even as work was harder to come by, with 83.1% receiving offers by graduation, down from 92% in 2019, and just over 90% getting offers three months after graduation, down from 97% from the previous year.
Meanwhile, after a record year in 2019 in which 96% accepted their offers after 90 days, in 2020, with a health crisis raging around the country and the world, 88.4% of Ross MBAs accepted jobs three months after accepting their degrees.
“We are proud of our students’ remarkable ability to navigate their career search process during these unprecedented times,” Byrne says. “We are also grateful for the career staff who advocated and supported our students in addition to our alumni for stepping up to post jobs and hire Ross grads during this time.”
SALARIES CLIMB AS CONSULTING COMPANIES UP COMPENSATION
The snow may be falling in Ann Arbor as Christmas looms, but the salaries are not. The Class of 2020’s median salary was $135,000, up from $129,000 the previous year, while the average signing bonus also increased, to $30,000 from $25,000.
Consulting was again the top industry for Ross MBAs, with more than 35% of the class going to the sector, while tech climbed from 21% last year to 24.5% this year. Ross consultants made the highest median salary, at $160,000, but someone in tech made $194K, according to the salary ranges published by the school.
“I was a little surprised at all the salaries, but after you finish putting it all together, it does make sense,” Byrne says. “A lot of the consulting firms raised their salaries this year, so I think all of that makes sense. And with students doing kind of just-in-time recruiting, looking for more kind of niche things and that combined with the timing, I was very pleased with how it ended up.”
Amazon was the largest employer of Ross MBA talent, with 26 full-time hires for grads and 22 internships for the Class of 2021. EY, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Co., and Deloitte rounded out the top five hiring companies of the most recent graduating MBA class.
“With Amazon being our number one employer again, we were really excited about that,” Byrne says. “We have such a great relationship with them and a lot of other top tech firms. So that is always really great. And those were the industries that students are really excited about. And so it’s always great to know they can get a job in something that they want.”
Sixty percent of 2020 Ross MBAs accepted jobs in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Boston.
ALUMNI PITCH IN TO HELP IN A CHALLENGING YEAR
Technology was the top industry for rising second-year summer internships, at 23% of the Class of 2021, followed closely by consulting (22%). The employment report also showed an increasing interest in finance, with more than 16% of the Class of 2021 accepting internship offers in that industry. Of these, 12% were in investment banking, private equity, or venture capital.
“For the internships, we see more students doing technology and that’s kind of been wavering between tech and consulting for the last couple of years,” Byrne says. “So we’ve been doing really, really well there. And tech follows real closely behind consulting for full-time — not as much for internships.”
Many rising second-year students found work through the new Michigan Ross Business Consultant Corps this summer, often working on projects related to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Companies involved in the Corps spanned an array of sizes and industries and included firms like Microsoft that will likely become major post-graduation destinations for Ross MBAs.
The Business Consulting Corps also helped graduating members of the Class of 2020, Byrne says, with participating alumni playing a huge role in helping the graduating MBAs — much as they have at other top business schools.
“Our alumni really stepped up in multiple ways,” she says. “We started this Business Consulting Corps this year and saw a lot of our students take advantage of that on the internship front, and a lot of those projects were initiated and started by our alumni. We also saw alumni really step up and posting jobs. So you put the word out and they really rise to the occasion. That’s the great part about being at Ross with such a large alumni network — not only Ross, but the University of Michigan. When you go asking, they answer. And that was really great. That’s how it always is. But I think this year, everybody really showed up because they knew what the students needed and they really wanted to help.
“These kinds of numbers happen when you have tremendous support, and when you have students with a lot of tenacity and perseverance and resilience, and you wrap all of that around an amazing support system from our staff — everyone on our staff, from the coaches to the industry relations managers, to our data research people, I mean everyone. And you think about how our staff puts students first when they were trying to adjust to working from home, adjusted teaching their kids at home. I think that really says a lot about the Ross community, and that’s what makes our place special.”
See the next page for more tables and employment data for 2020 Michigan Ross MBAs.