Financial Fallout on MBA Career Planning

Posted by: Phil Mintz on September 26, 2008

Fewer investment jobs and more competition for those that are available. That’s what’s facing the current crop of MBA job-seekers, according to Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration.

Here’s what she says about the fallout from the economic meltdown:

Students I am talking with are certainly reconsidering careers in the investment industry. While there are some high-profile, significant problems, there are aspects of the investment industry where there are still jobs. Unfortunately the competition for those jobs will be fierce given all the new job seekers flooding the market from the troubled firms.

Corporate finance now becomes a much more attractive option. Particularly large companies have extensive corporate finance functions and a huge need for MBA talent. Most of these organizations are global in nature so the opportunities span the globe. I would expect competition for these positions to increase as more students shy away from investment positions.

Students interested in investments should consider other opportunities to use that same skill set outside the financial institutions: large company treasury functions make investment decisions and manage portfolios of investments; mergers and acquisitions staff do a significant amount of financial analysis and modeling; consulting firms often have significant practices around merger integration, merger target identification, business turnarounds, etc. that require a strong financial skill set.

For those laid off, it is time to consider going back to school for the degree that will better position them for opportunities in the future.

While no one knows exactly how this financial situation will play out and what impact there will be from a possible bailout to the November election, job seekers should assume that there will be fewer investment jobs and that the positions which do become available will be highly sought after. Companies will have many candidates to choose from and most firms will proceed cautiously before adding headcount. It is likely that the financial crisis will have a trickle down impact on other employers but I know there are companies anxious to hire talent due to their impending increase in retirements. Generally we are seeing firms across the board being a bit more cautious - additional rounds of interviews to get input from more members of the team, increased reference checking etc.

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