The State of the 2010 MBA Job Market

Almost 90% of MBAs from the class of 2010 were employed after graduation, compared to 84% from the year before, reports a GMAC press release on the 2010 job scene. The press release also points out that these post-recession graduates are “faring better than their counterparts did following the last recession;” in the 2003 GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey, only 72% of graduates were employed.

The class of 2010 also reported higher starting salaries than did the class of 2009. The median starting salary for this year’s graduates was $78,820, compared to last year’s $75,000.

“Companies are managing through an unprecedented economic environment,” said Dave Wilson, president and CEO of GMAC. “It is precisely because of these pressures that they place such a high value on newly minted MBAs to help them survive and thrive.”

Now let’s compare this to the less optimistic picture that Businessweek draws for us in the lead article to its 2010 MBA rankings. The article begins by focusing on the difficult job market as it affected students pre-graduation (in February), not as the GMAC release discusses, at the time of graduation. This past year, for example, only 64% of UVA Darden students had secured jobs by February, a drop from the previous year’s 69%, and considerably lower than the 81% who had landed jobs in 2008, pre-crash.

The article does, however, let some optimism seep in, especially when it comes to the role alumni played in generating job leads for the class of 2010. Alumni were encouraged to step up and generate job leads. By graduation, 77% of the class had received job offers; three months later, the job rate surged to 87%.  

The article continues to explain that difficult economic times call for non-traditional job seek methods, such as the alumni call to action above. On-campus recruitment visits by major companies are on the decline; there are fewer jobs out there and more MBA grads to fill them. Regional companies are now “on the radar” for top MBAs, as well as jobs outside of a top choice industry and/or location. Networking is more important than ever. “I had to expand my job search to include potential jobs and industries I would otherwise have never considered,” says Tyler Fenelon, a 2010 UCLA Anderson graduate.

Another hint of optimism—the article concludes by stating that “[h]appily, there are signs that the job market for MBAs is picking up.” More second year students returned to campus this fall with firm job offers from internships than did second year students last year. Also, certain industries (such as health care and energy) are increasing their job recruiting activity. That should, at least, be good news for the class of 2012.

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