There are no guarantees in life, right? Well, you might be surprised to learn that even some Harvard Business School graduates in 2020--the peak year of the pandemic--had some difficulty landing jobs three months after graduation. Just 83% of the Class of 2020 accepted a job three months after commencement, down from 88% a year earlier or 91% in 2016. The rate of job offers also declined to a five-year low thanks to the pandemic which halted hiring in a number of industries. In fact, a slim majority of schools–51 to be exact–in U.S. News’ Top 100 MBA programs boasted better job placement rates within three months of graduation last year than Harvard Business School (see Hidden MBA Gems: These Schools With Better Employment Rates Than Harvard or Stanford In 2020).
Every year, a fairly significant chunk of MBA students at Harvard Business School are sponsored. Translation: Their tuition and fees are paid for by their former employers who expect the students to return in their employ or otherwise forfeit the financial support they were given. In fact, roughly one in four Harvard MBA graduates don't even bother to seek employment in any given year. Another key reason not to look for a job? It's because you've done a startup off campus. In 2020, 11% took that route.
The most prominent industries that hire MBAs these days are finance, consulting and technology. At Harvard Business School, most MBA grads venture into the financial services industry which hired roughly a third of the class in 2020. The reason? Just follow the money. Graduates who land jobs in finance, particularly in private equity, I-banking and hedge funds, make significantly more money than MBAs who go into consulting or technology.
Having a passion for a career field can often trump the money game. After the big three industries, the most popular destination was health care in 2020. As the above chart shows, however, interest in these less-traveled fields varies by year and class, moving up and down in any given year. Harvard MBA grads who went into entertainment and media has fallen by half in the past two years, for example, dropping to just 2% of the class last year from 4% in 2018.