In its survey last fall of 78 leading business schools, the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance found that 38% of schools reported an increase in full-time job postings for full-time and part-time MBA and specialty master’s program students. That was down from 74% reporting an increase in fall 2021.
The global association for individuals in graduate business career services and employers highlighted the “stability” in the market, with the bets example coming out of the consulting sector. That industry, MBA CSEA reports, saw the largest increase for the second year in a row, with 52% of schools reporting an increase. Though that was still down from 84% of schools reporting an increase the year before, it was much better than what’s going on in the beleaguered tech sector, for example, where 46% of schools reported a decrease in 2022 after 82% saw a decrease in 2021.
Yet even that bright spot has dimmed. Less than a week after the MBA CSEA released its annual survey on March 20, reports began to surface of Class of 2023 MBAs with job offers from consulting firms being asked to push back their start dates, in some cases as much as a year — and of others having their offers pulled completely.
JOB START DATES BEING PUSHED BACK FOR SOME 2023 MBAs
Several B-schools contacted by Poets&Quants for this story reported they had not heard from their students or alumni of any job rescissions or delays in the consulting sector. Nor could these schools — which include several of the leading B-schools for MBAs going into consulting — confirm similar rumblings about their graduates planning to work in venture capital or private equity.
But as March wanes, the individual stories have persisted. One Harvard Business School student reportedly had an offer from an MBB firm pushed from August 2023 to August 2024, and a Wharton student confirms she has heard “rumblings” of delayed starts from colleagues. An admissions consultant who keeps in touch with past clients tells P&Q that “a BCG consultant at Wharton who’s graduating this year was told she only had a position in 2024.”
Dave Deiters, associate dean of MBA programs and the Georgia Tech Scheller College’s Jones MBA Career Center, says he has heard about delayed starts at consulting firms. “I have heard the same thing from my colleagues at other schools,” Deiters tell P&Q. “That said, we have yet to see (knock on wood) any offers – consulting or otherwise – get rescinded. What is impacting our Class of 2023 MBA graduates are start dates being pushed back. Most firms employing Scheller MBAs have offered a range of dates that are definitely later than in prior years. And at least one firm has offered some financial incentive to students who accept later dates. That is about the extent of it at this point.”
Jeff McNish, assistant dean of the Career Center at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, adds: “To date, we have not been made aware of any frozen or rescinded offers for consulting in the class of 2023. We have had one company ask a small set of students going to a specific city to consider changing the start date to later this year or early next year. It has impacted fewer than six of our students. This is the extent of what we know at present.”
ONLY 18% OF SCHOOLS REPORT AN INCREASE IN JOB POSTINGS FOR PART-TIME MBA STUDENTS
Rebecca Cook, executive director of Kelley Career Services at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, says that so far only one small company has put job offers to Kelley MBAs on hold. “We are not seeing/hearing” of widespread delays, she tells P&Q, “except for one small firm (Lotus Blu, formerly Axiom). They haven’t rescinded their offers, but they are on hold.”
One top-20 B-school’s careers team suggests that delays to consulting job offers may have a benign explanation: a reset to previous years. They theorize that since start dates moved earlier during the hot job market, it could be that they are going back to what used to the norm of late summer/early fall, or even later.
In its latest survey, completed in January 2023, MBA CSEA reports that overall, “signs are pointing to market stability, with slight decreases seen in the technology industry.” It also reports that the winding down of new job postings has hit part-time MBAs as well as their full-time colleagues, with 18% of schools reporting an increase for the former compared with 55% in 2021. “Similar to full-time MBAs, on-campus opportunities (school-scheduled interviews) showed an increase with 14% of schools reporting as such, compared with 20% in 2021. For part-time MBAs, consulting and financial services showed the largest increase for the second year in a row, with 42% of schools reporting an increase in consulting and 33% in financial services, both similar increases to the previous year’s survey. Similar to full-time MBAs, technology saw the largest decrease, with 38% of schools reporting a decrease.”
And for specialized master’s students, similar to MBA programs, the consulting industry experienced the largest increase in recruiting, MBA CSEA reports, with 42% of schools reporting an increase — but that is compared with 77% reporting an increase last year.
“In-person career fairs saw an increase in prevalence for full-time MBA students,” MBA CSEA reports, “while virtual career fairs declined slightly. This, combined with the decrease in off-campus recruiting and increase in on-campus recruiting may be a sign of stabilization following significant increases in virtual and off-campus recruitment activities over the past two years. Employer use of AI-empowered pre-interview screening tools continued to increase, as did virtual interview technologies. Recruiters still seem to value virtual engagement, while many are also bringing back in-person activities to round out their offerings.”
“This year’s survey results indicate a continued turn toward market stabilization as employers continue to value graduate business degrees,” says John Helmers, MBA CSEA president and director of graduate career management at the University of Colorado-Boulder Leeds School of Business. “Schools are responding to these shifts through creative student programming and employer relations activities, remaining flexible and collaborative to meet the ever-changing needs.”
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