The Recession MBA: What To Know

Business schools are likely to benefit from a recession

The Recession MBA: What To Know

A recession is imminent—or may well already be here.

In the past year, tech companies—from Amazon to Microsoft—have announced nearly 100,000 job cuts. Fortune recently explored what effect a recession might have on business schools and what applicants need to know about applying during this time.

“In a recession, going to business school—it’s the perfect timing,” Rachel Beck, managing director of mbaMission, an MBA admissions consulting firm, tells Fortune. “Because you’re kind-of in hiding for a defined amount of time, and you’re often out of the recession by the time you graduate from an MBA program.”


Recession or not, it’s always a good idea to know why you want to pursue an MBA in the first place.

“Students definitely should be true to what they want to do and pursue the MBA that they would like to achieve their long-term goal,” Linda Vo, senior associate director of coaching on the career and leadership team at the University of North Carolina-Chappel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, tells Fortune. “Just because the economy may be going down, and the opportunities may be changing, it doesn’t mean you should change who you are and what you want. It just might take a little bit longer to get to where you want to be.”

Some experts say it can be helpful to have a plan B, especially during a recession.

“What’s most important for somebody in business school—or thinking about business school—is to have a very good plan B,” Beck says. “For instance, if you’re interested in private equity, and suddenly there’s a downturn in dealmaking, it’s not like you’re going to go work in pharmaceutical marketing. But you might say, ‘I really wanted private equity, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to be happening…maybe I’ll go work in-house at a corporation doing corporate development,’ which is almost like an in-house banker job.”


A recession may also offer an opportunity to gain more experience than you normally would in an internship.

“When staff is lean [following layoffs], who better to do the work than an intern from an MBA program?” Beck says. “These companies are still looking for really good talent. They’re looking for leadership and people with great drive and a really strong knowledge base. Even in a recession, even if you’re seeing your business decline, you still need your pipeline.”

If you’re job searching during a recession, experts recommend connecting with your business school’s career office.

“What we’re doing is taking a really holistic approach to be able to support our students,” says Noemi Morillo-Vasquez, director of employer engagement and recruiting for MBA programs at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, says. “That includes tapping into our networks, tapping into our alumni networks, and being able to proactively follow any opportunities and optimize any opportunities that are in the market to be able to bring those opportunities to our students.”

Sources: Fortune, NPR

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