Good news for business school students: More M.B.A. graduates are landing jobs now than in the past two years, according to an analysis of U.S. News data. Of the 441 business schools surveyed by U.S. News in fall of 2011, 135 provided job placement data for their 2011 graduates of full-time M.B.A. programs in an annual survey.
Among those schools, 78.8 percent of 2011 graduates were hired within three months of graduation. Hiring information for graduates of part-time programs was not used to calculate these percentages.
By comparison, 119 business schools provided employment data in 2009 and 2010, and among those schools, 75.7 percent of 2010 grads and 70.8 percent of 2009 grads landed a job within three months of graduation. These average percentage gains reflect a 4.1 percent growth in the M.B.A. hiring market from 2010, and an 11.3 percent increase from 2009, among those schools that provided data.
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"Companies will always need a pipeline of talented M.B.A. graduates," says Wendy Tsung, associate dean and executive director of M.B.A. career services at Emory University's Goizueta Business School, where 94 percent of 2011 grads reportedly found work within three months of graduation.
Many of those companies are expressing their interest in M.B.A.'s by approaching them at school. Seventy percent of the 102 business programs surveyed for a February 2012 MBA Career Services Council report experienced increased on-campus recruiting in 2011.
Specifically, those on-campus recruiters want M.B.A.'s to fill technology positions. More than 60 percent of respondents to the MBA Career Services Council survey reported an increase in recruiting for full-time technology positions in 2011, up from the 37 percent bump technology job recruitment saw in 2010. In 2011, the surveyed business programs felt a bigger increase in recruitment for technology jobs than for positions in any other industry.
U.S. News data show a similar trend: Business schools with the highest job placement percentages include Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Management and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, where 95.1 and 93.5 percent of 2011 grads, respectively, found work within three months of graduation.
Whatever field M.B.A. students plan to enter, they need to develop a clear focus on what field they want to pursue before they enter the grad program, says Tsung of Goizueta. Unlike most undergraduate programs, M.B.A. tracks typically last about two years—and "recruiting starts the moment you walk through the door," Tsung says.
"The hiring timeline is very aggressive," Tsung notes. "Spend time before entering the program to identify some areas you're interested in."
Tsung suggests that students get practical experience in a potential field before they invest in the M.B.A. program, by volunteering with a related organization, joining the industry's association, or exploring that kind of work in their current company. Students can also talk with employees of the industry they're interested in and ask questions about what they do and the challenges they face, Tsung adds.
With a solid idea of what sort of work they want to pursue with their M.B.A., students can hit the ground running when they begin classes. M.B.A. curricula and the hiring process are often tough, so there's not much room in a two year, sometimes $100,000 program, to change directions, some say.
And often, as they take classes, M.B.A.'s must juggle coursework, job prospects, family life, and more, says Corinne Snell, executive director of the Center for Student Professional Development at Temple University's Fox School of Business, where 95.3 percent of 2011 grads found work within three months of graduation.
The hectic schedule of an M.B.A. program is something the student will have to get used to, Snell says.
"They have so much going on, but welcome to the corporate world," she says, citing the common 60 and 70 hour workweeks of business people. "It's not going to be Easy Street after they graduate."