MBA Admissions News Round Up

  • A Daily Pennsylvanian article, “New Wharton initiative to focus on consumer analytics” discusses the Wharton’s new data-driven customer-oriented research center. The groundbreaking Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative “helps companies analyze data about customer preferences in order to maximize profits.” The initiative will be integrated into Wharton’s undergraduate curriculum; consumer analytics will appeal to students who like “crunching numbers” and will give them options beyond the traditional finance major.
  • Starting with the MBA class of 2011, Berkeley Haas graduates will be offered free executive education programs through the school’s Center for Executive Education. This applies to graduates from Berkeley’s full-time program, Evening & Weekend program, and the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA program, and includes two days of free executive training to be used within five years of graduating. The initiative stays faithful to the school’s focus on being “Students Always,” one of four defining principles of the top business school. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work more closely with our alumni,” says Whitney Hischier, MBA 01, assistant dean for executive learning at Haas. “MBA graduation is literally just the beginning of our relationship with the student—we expect to connect with alumni throughout the course of their professional career.” (Source: “Future MBA Alumni to Receive Free Exec Ed Course,” Haas School Newsroom)
  • The Bay Area has become an MBA program hot spot, reports a San Francisco Business Times article. Babson College, Hult International Business School, and Cornell-Queens have recently opened part-time professional and executive degree programs in or around San Francisco. These programs join the ranks of other area EMBA programs, including Berkeley-Columbia.
  • Business schools are working to strengthen ties with recruiters, reports a Wall Street Journal article, “Schools solicit advice from employers.” For example, career service departments are taking recruiter feedback more seriously, especially feedback that focuses on graduates’ shortcomings. In response to such criticism, schools are adjusting their courses so that students are better prepared for the sort of work and real-life challenges that these recruiters demand. “We’ve had to be more sensitive to companies’ needs,” says Rich Lyons, dean of the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “Because of the horrific job downturn and competition for positions, we’ve had to work even harder to get our graduates in front of employers.” The thinking is that the more proactive a school is at implementing change based on recruiting companies’ feedback, the better chances that school’s graduates will have at landing jobs in the tough job market. 

More Happy MBA Hiring News

Last week we posted a round up of optimistic MBA hiring news, and today we’re going to supplement that with another positive update.

Today’s good news comes from a BusinessWeek article titled “Better Days Ahead for MBA Job Seekers,” in which author Erin Zlomek assures MBAs that “evidence of a rebound is everywhere.” Bringing data from a recent GMAC study, she concludes that class of 2011 MBAs are likely to have an easier time finding a job than did their peers who graduated last year and the year before.

In terms of pay, the GMAC study suggests that there probably won’t be much of a change between starting salaries for this year’s class as opposed to last year’s.

According to the MBA Career Services Council (CSC), 65% of schools surveyed reported an increase in campus recruiting by consulting firms; 60% said that financial services recruiting was also up. JPMorgan Chase plans on recruiting at 20-25 schools, an improvement over last year’s 15.

It should be noted, however, that job openings in the area of investment banking are still somewhat hard to come by, and many students are shifting their focuses away from that field toward private equity or other areas within financial services.

The positive tech market is also helping the poor investment banking market easier to swallow. At MIT Sloan, an almost equal number of grads entered the investment banking and tech fields (15% and 19% respectively), in 2008; in 2010, that gap had widened to 11.5% to investment banking and 20% to tech fields.

In general, notes J.J. Cutler, deputy vice dean for MBA admissions at Wharton, there has been a surge in interest in nontraditional MBA fields. “We’re seeing more companies coming to campus in industries such as clean tech and new media, industries that haven’t had a history of coming to MBA schools as a place to get talent,” he says.

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Stanford’s eHarmony-Style Job Search Offers Large Payoff

 

John Byrne offers a window into Stanford GSB‘s career services office with his article, “Creating An eHarmony Model for MBA Careers.” He starts by reminding readers that graduates from Stanford GSB report the highest median base salaries—about $120,000/year compared to Harvard and Wharton’s $110,000, Dartmouth and Kellogg’s $105,000, and Columbia’s $100,000. Furthermore, he states, nearly twice as many Stanford grads receive other guaranteed compensation as do HBS graduates.

Such numbers could be attributed to Stanford’s small class size (about 385 a year compared to 910 at Harvard), to its location in the Silicon Valley, and/or to its phenomenal Career Management Center.

It is this latter consideration that Byrne focuses on in his article. The GSB’s Career Management Center is headed by Pulin Sanghvi who is modeling the career match process to a system similar to that of eHarmony, a popular dating website.

Bryne sums up Sanghvi’s understanding of the changing face of MBA recruiting as such:

“MBA recruiting is changing from the old recruiters-visit-campus model to one that is far more customized and targeted to individual student desires and goals. Roughly 80% of the companies that recruit at the school now hire only a single Stanford grad a year. For many of these recruiters, it makes little sense to come to campus and interview dozens to hundreds of students. Half of Stanford’s graduates now do self-directed job searches, forgoing the prestigious yet more traditional MBA jobs with McKinsey, BCG, Goldman and Morgan Stanley. Instead, they’re searching for positions with smaller companies in biotech, healthcare, private equity, or venture capital. They’re looking at small hedge funds along with Internet and technology startups.”

To accommodate this change, Sanghvi is relying more on online resources to connect students with unique career opportunities. Similar to eHarmony’s personalized matching system, Sanghvi is crafting custom support for individual students to connect them with jobs that best match their objectives and skills.

Stanford’s career management staff uses an innovative software program to match student-updated online profiles to available career opportunities and to create customized support and mentorship between students and career advisors. The process is not automated, but more “an outcome of…high touch service” (15 full-time people in the career management center for 385 students). Such personalized matchmaking is realistic only when you’re dealing with a student body the size of Stanford’s.

“As we capture information online, we are using it to inform our one-on-one interactions with them,” says Sanghvi. “What we can bring every student is deeply customized support. Instead of focusing on generic topics, we’ll find out that there are ten students who want to know how to network in the clean tech industry. So then we can do customized programming for them, gathering best practices for that industry and bringing in alums from clean tech to speak with them.”

As a result of Sanghvi’s program’s success, many Stanford students are choosing not to participate in the fall recruiting cycle; the school has adopted a year-round recruiting schedule instead, recognizing that sometimes the longer you stay in the market, the greater the opportunities you may encounter.

Here are some statistics included in Byrne’s article on how MBAs of Stanford’s class of 2010 found their high-paying jobs:

SCHOOL-FACILITATED ACTIVITIES:
On-Campus Recruiting: 27%
Other (GSB-facilitated): 4%
Alumni: 4%
Job Boards: 6%
Resume Book: 2%
Career Fair: 1%
Faculty: 1%
GSB Class/Project: 1%
Student Club/Club Event: 1%

GRADUATE-FACILITATED ACTIVITIES:
Pre-MBA Employer: 23%
Family/Friend: 11%
Business Contact: 11%
Other (student-facilitated): 5%
Company Website: 2%
Executive Search Firm: 1%
Undergraduate Network: 1%

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MBA Hiring Round Up: Happy Days are Here Again!

  • A Wall Street Journal article, “Hiring Prospects Improve for M.B.A. Grads in 2011,” discusses the upward hiring trend expected in 2011. A recent GMAC study indicates that 64% of surveyed managers, executives, and recruiters plan on hiring MBA grads in 2011, compared to 60% in 2010. 69% expect salaries to remain flat; 26% forecast an increase and 4% expect a decrease. “As the economy recovers, the demand for management grows, and the M.B.A. market is one of the easiest targets to go after,” says Dave Wilson, GMAC CEO. “Nowadays, companies can get a well-trained asset at a reasonable price.”
  • A BusinessWeek article, “2011 MBA Job Outlook Bright,” offers another positive look at the expanding MBA job market. This article focuses on summer internship hiring and the fact that 81% of b-school career officers surveyed said that they expected hiring to improve—that’s compared to 60% in 2009. Further research shows that on-campus recruitment is up, as are full-time job postings. 63% of schools reported an increase in recruiting; 70% saw a spike in job postings. One reason for the encouraging hiring picture, explains Nicole Hall, president of the MBA Career Services Council at Pepperdine Graziadio, is that business schools are changing their tactics to help their students secure employment. “B-schools have adapted to help students secure jobs,” she says. “The practice of aggressively promoting graduates to fill current openings at target companies is certain to continue even when the economy fully recovers as employers benefit through streamlined placements and students gain from connections to companies of interest.”
  • Yet another article, Poets & Quant‘s “MBA Jobs: From the Dark Days to a Happy Present,” celebrates the improved MBA job market. It traces the recent history from “those dark days at the heights of the Great Recession [when] people began to again debate the value of the MBA and whether the market would ever come back,” through the recovery, to the present, when MBA graduates are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “We are seeing an extremely sharp uptick from virtually every sector that recruits our MBAs,” says director of Stanford’s Career Management Center, Pulin Sanghvi. “Most employers are coming back with sharply higher hiring numbers. There are parts of the economy right now that are really booming, particularly in tech, and that boom is creating even more jobs from the ecosystems around these companies.” The article provides survey data that suggests that on-campus recruiting and hiring is on the rise with significant increases from last year to this year. The last section of the article, “Harvard Now Teaches MBAs How to Fish and Doesn’t Fish for Them,” is particularly interesting—it focuses on the steps HBS has taken to equip its students with job-searching skills and resources. The job market may be improving, but the days of taking job offers for granted are long over

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February College News Round Up

See what the month of February brought to the college admissions news table!

  1. To assist in the job search during this challenging economic time, the University of Pennsylvania Career Services department is running full steam ahead to employ Penn graduates. Penn is now offering hundreds of job opportunities to graduates who are willing to stay on campus, says Patricia Rose, Career Services Director. Positions range from administration to finance to dentistry, veterinary, and more diverse fields, making these options appropriate for graduates of each of Penn’s four undergraduate colleges. These jobs come fully equipped with a wealth of employee benefits. (The Daily Pennsylvanian)
  2. How much work are college applicants expected to do? Tufts University now accepts YouTube videos as optional application material—that’s in addition to optional essays and, of course, Tufts famous “create something out of a sheet of paper” option. This year, about 1,000 out of 15,000 applicants created admissions videos. The New York Times compares Tufts University to the University of Chicago in terms of their “quirky applications.” We particularly like Michael Klinker’s video about the flying elephant, Jumbo. Lee Coffin, director of undergraduate admissions at Tufts says, “At heart, this is all about a conversation between a kid and an admissions officer. You see their floppy hair and their messy bedrooms, and you get a sense of who they are. We have a lot of information about applicants, but the videos let them share their voice.”

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Good News for MBAs: Job Opportunities Abound!

While students are still worried about landing post-graduate jobs in the tight job market, career service directors predict that 2010 may be “the year of the [MBA job market] turnaround,” reports BusinessWeek last week. Some of these encouraging signs include an increase of full-time MBA job postings—70% of schools saw a decrease in postings last year and this year, 48% saw decreases while 34% actually saw increases—an increase of internships opportunities, and the fact that more second-year MBA students have accepted job offers than last year’s class at this time.

Michelle Antonio, director of MBA career management at Wharton, says she is “cautiously optimistic that come spring things will look better than they did last year.”

Career services directors’ optimism increases proportionally to MBA recruiter business improvements. The better large corporations do in this economy, the greater chances there will be for increased hiring. Many companies that had put their hiring on hold or who had decreased hiring last year are beginning to pick up again and expect an increase in MBA hiring this spring. These companies include Gallup Inc. and Liberty Mutual Group Inc.

Alongside increased hiring rates, however, comes increased application rates, which means it may not be any easier this year to get a job as it was last year, even despite the higher availability of options. Ann Nowak, Liberty Mutual’s director of recruiting, says that her company now receives about 1000 resumes a day, up from last year’s 350 a day. “MBA students have always had to be really good,” says Nowak, “but now you have to be even better in how you approach the company.”

A recent GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey found that the majority of 2009 MBA grads (96% of those who completed the survey) were employed within just a few months after completing their degrees. Most business school graduates with jobs were satisfied with their salaries (though the mean was slightly lower than last year) and most were satisfied with their jobs in general. (Follow the link for more GMAC survey findings.)

Conclusion: Finding a job in this economy is not easy—no one will deny that—but for graduates of top MBA programs, the jobs are there and employers are hiring. With the right profile, skills, networking, and…let’s face it…a little luck, MBA grads should embrace the job market with just a little bit of cautious optimism.

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Passionate Optimism: It’s Nice, but Will it Land You a Job?

A few weeks ago we reported on the bleak career future for humanities PhD holders. Our post concluded on a rather pessimistic note, sharing the advice of Thomas H. Benton who warns humanities students against pursuing higher degrees in the humanities.  

Recently The Daily Pennsylvanian expressed a glimmer of hope on the otherwise rather depressing subject of humanities-related career opportunities.

The article, entitled “With declining job opportunities humanities grad students remain optimistic” (a positive title), begins like this: “A massive decrease in scholarly job opportunities—especially those in languages and literature—has brought the challenges doctoral candidates in these areas face into the national spotlight.”

Not a very optimistic start to an article on optimism that then continues to talk about a past New York Times article that expresses the same pessimistic view of the humanities-related job market.

So where does the optimism come in?

The Penn students express their ambivalence about their post-grad job prospects with a refreshing burst of passion.

Penn students understand that the job market today may not be the job market in six or seven years, the amount of time it takes many students to finish their PhDs.  Who’s to say they shouldn’t pursue their dreams because of where the always-fluctuating job market is today, or even where it’s been for the last few years?

“We’re all here because we want to be professors,” says one English graduate student. “The likelihood, though, is that we’re not going to get exactly what we want in terms of the type of job we’re looking for.”

That same student concludes the article by saying, “Your subfield is what you’re passionate about. I don’t know anyone who doctored their interests based on getting a job.”

Optimism is always appreciated; but in today’s economy, I think people have “doctored their interests based on getting a job,” even if it meant putting their passion-driven PhDs on hold for a while.

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How Should We Assess Law School Success?

The debate continues, according to The Chronicle’s report on the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting, as to whether law schools should be assessed based on “input” measures or “outcome” measures. The first looks at library holdings, faculty size, and the like, while the latter measures the skills and competencies of the school’s graduates.

Law schools are resisting this suggestion for outcome measurements, saying that “they have enough to worry about with budget cuts, a tough job market for their graduates, and the soaring cost of legal education without adding a potentially expensive assessment overhaul.”

Supporters of these proposed revisions, however, say that the difficult job market is exactly why these graduate assessments are crucial, despite their hefty price tags: In a competitive job market, it’s important that graduates possess certain skills if they want to pierce the law firm market. The pressure and costs of such a test will only encourage law schools to “churn out” graduates who possess the skills that employers are seeking.

Cost and timing are key players in this ongoing debate. Is the middle of a meltdown in the legal job market the time to start implementing costly changes? Will such reforms offer a return on investment?

Other issues raised by opponents of performance-based assessments include the questionable measurability of legal practice skills and the effect diversity will have on bar passage rates.

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To Ph.D. or Not To Ph.D.?

The Boston Globe reports that about 35% of American college students continue on to receive degrees beyond a B.A. This percentage is up from 32.7% in 1999. While an increased interest in higher education is admirable, one must ask: Is this upswing towards higher education positive? Are these M.A. and Ph.D. graduates obtaining jobs (and raises) that they otherwise wouldn’t receive? Are these higher degrees necessary? Is the additional degree worth the time and money that goes into obtaining it?

A recent recession-related job survey shows that less that 4.5% of workers in America hold Ph.D.s, and that this number is dropping. If more people are getting Ph.D., but studies show that there are fewer Ph.D.s in the workforce…well…you do the math.

Another staggering figure that may make you reconsider pursuing that Ph.D.: Employees with Ph.D.’s earn 10% less than those same Ph.D. holders would have made a decade ago.

This chart explains it all:

 

In a Chronicle article written one year ago Thomas H. Benton restated a position he’d held for many years, a “message many prospective graduate students were not getting from their professors, who were generally too eager to clone themselves”: that prospective Ph.D.s should scratch their Ph.D. dreams and run the other way, towards a job.

Prospects are bleak for Ph.D. holders in the humanities, Benton explains:

Most undergraduates don’t realize that there is a shrinking percentage of positions in the humanities that offer job security, benefits, and a livable salary….They don’t know that you probably will have to accept living almost anywhere, and that you must also go through a six-year probationary period at the end of which you may be fired for any number of reasons and find yourself exiled from the profession.

Becoming a humanities professor is not a reliable prospect, though, Benton admits, it may be a more responsible choice than freelance writing, acting, or becoming a professional athlete.

Ph.D.s used to be reserved for the few elite students in a particular field. Today, a doctorate program has become a hiding shelter from searching for a job.

A warning from Benton: The recession won’t go away simply because you’ve locked yourself in the library.

A Ph.D. is for some people, relents Benton, for individually wealthy people who have the time and money to devote themselves to academe, you are an extremely well-connected person who has a reliable job guarantee, or if you have a current job and your current employer offers to pay your way towards Ph.D.-hood.

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Another College and MBA Admissions Round Up

Here are some news tidbits from last week:

  • BusinessWeek reported some good news last week regarding the job market, particularly for new college graduates. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported a turnaround in college hiring. Surveys show that the recent economic recession hit college graduates ages 22 to 27 among the hardest. BW states that this new job market optimism may be a bit premature, but remains hopeful from this year’s graduates. 
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  • Ash Martin, an MBA student at MIT Sloan, writes in BusinessWeek early last week about his experience with the MBA internship. Martin describes the internship as a test: A company evaluates your performance in a particular job. Do you fit with this office’s environment? Can you get the job done? Can you put your MBA skills to good use? Martin explains that your MBA internship should not be something you should fear (like possibly other tests you’ve taken in your life) but one that you enter with confidence—it’s a test, after all, that you should know all the answers to.
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  • As India’s middle class emerges, so does the growing desire to study abroad at a top college or graduate school program in the U.S. A recent article in The Chronicle explains that international college recruitment is at an all-time high in India. The streets, taxis, and storefronts in New Delhi, according to the article, are plastered with advertisements for test-prep and admissions counseling and promises of securing a solid educational future abroad. Many factors contribute to this increasingly popular trend of attending overseas universities, but one reason remains strictly practical: The Indian universities simply cannot accommodate the number of students who would ideally attend locally. Colleges in Britain and Australia have pursued more active recruitment strategies than the American universities, which in general have little trouble attracting Indian students.
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  • In an effort to expand its global footprint, the Financial Times reports, Harvard Business School will open its first overseas branch in Shanghai. The new Shanghai facility will open its doors this month for short executive courses and will serve as a base for full-time MBA students involved in international projects. 

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