(article published in Boston Metro, Mar 2009)
The MBA has long been seen as the fast track to lucrative positions at blue chip investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. But the boom years on Wall Street are clearly over, at least for the foreseeable future.
The latest survey from the MBA Career Services Council found 56% of business schools reporting a ‘significant’ decline in the number of jobs posted with them. Even the volume of internships is apparently dropping, giving rise to fears that this classic route to a permanent job may be in danger of drying up.
However one of the key attractions of the MBA is that the broad range of skill sets a graduate has acquired can quickly be adapted to other sectors. The consultancy firms, both international players and specialised boutique operations have been amongst the first to tempt those turning their back on a career in finance.
Lynne A. Sarikas, Director at the Northeastern University MBA Career Center confirms that some sectors such as healthcare, government and defense are doing well. “For some companies segments of their business are doing well, some functions such as supply chain/operations are hot, as companies need talent to focus on these critical aspects of their business.”
Though Sarikas notes that employers are being cautious, taking longer to get positions approved and requiring multiple rounds of interviews, the class of 2009 placed all eligible employees on six month residency. “The phone is still ringing with employers interested in hiring out students”, she says.
For some recent graduates the MBA experience has been the chance to move away from the banking sector and develop the leadership skills for the next step in their career. Rahul Chopra worked for several years with Morgan Stanley in New York, and applied to several top-ranked schools with a diverse and international feel. He finally chose HEC in France, ranked #1 business school in Europe by the Financial Times. “As the global business landscape continues to evolve, HEC has taken the next step forward to ensure that their students are prepared to be leaders in tomorrow’s world.”
After his time at HEC Chopra decided to return to the US. “Through an HEC alumni contact, I was able to obtain a position with Dow Jones. The focus of my role is primarily on internal strategic initiatives and special projects. I thought it was a fantastic step forward post MBA and am blessed to have a position in this current economic climate.”
Recognizing that not all MBA students have their hearts set on banking bonuses, some business schools have initiatives to financially assist students hoping to work in the nonprofit and public sector. Whilst the Tuck School of Business has an excellent placement record in the banking industry, the school also supports a diverse range of projects from the Boston School District to a rural school in India. The annual Tuck GIVES auction has raised more than $510,000 over the past seven years to sponsor internships.
Explains Dean Paul Danos, “Tuck Nonprofit Fellowships provide mentoring and network support and financial assistance to graduating Tuck students who take positions with qualifying nonprofit or public sector organizations. Our students can bring tremendous value to a nonprofit or NGO. They know how to adapt their experience and learning to the culture of the organisation.”
They sound bankable.