For MBAs, Hope Springs Eternal

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on May 25, 2011

MBA students are more optimistic about the job market than they were a year ago, according to a survey of over 400 students recently conducted by Training The Street (TTS), which provides seminars on corporate valuation and financial modeling to top business schools such as Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile), University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (Wharton Full-Time MBA Profile), and University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (Booth Full-Time MBA Profile). The results of the survey were shared exclusively with Bloomberg Businessweek.

“The confidence of MBAs is a statement of the job market,” says Scott Rostan, president and founder of TTS, and an adjunct professor of finance at University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (Kenan-Flagler Full-Time MBA Profile). “Their optimism bodes well for the future of the economy.”

Of the respondents, 91 percent of first-year students and 81 percent of second-year students said they were “very” or “somewhat” optimistic about their post-graduation job prospects, compared to 82 percent and 72 percent respectively the year before. In addition, 50 percent of all respondents reported having more than one job offer, with the majority of them having two offers in hand.

“Over the past couple of years, people have been asking, ‘Is [the MBA] worth it?’” says Rostan. “Now students are seeing the potential with multiple offers.”

While banking and consulting took the hardest hits at the start of the financial crisis, those industries are coming back on top, says Rostan: “Historically, they are the first to fire and the first to hire.”

Indeed, 49 percent of respondents reported that large “bulge bracket” banks and global financial institutions have been trying to actively recruit them, whereas 35 percent reported the same of consulting firms.

Although some recruiting trends are returning to normal, other post-crisis changes are staying put. For starters, 29 percent of respondents said they found their jobs through an independent job search, second only to on-campus recruiting, which accounted for 61 percent of respondents. Just a few years ago, independent job searches were not the norm for MBA graduates.

Still, Rostan says, the MBA job market is coming back.

“The weather was very cloudy, and no one knew when it would stop raining,” he says. “People came to weather the crisis…Now they see things are actually getting better.”

—Francesca Di Meglio

Reader Comments

MBA 2011

May 25, 2011 5:57 PM

Harvard, Wharton and Booth is hardly a representative sample of top schools around the world. The survey is solely US focussed and that too only 3 of tier 1 schools in the US / around the world have been surveyed, which might provide a slight hint but cannot be said of b-schools across geographies.

BW's Louis Lavelle

May 25, 2011 7:04 PM

Harvard, Wharton and Booth weren't the only b-schools surveyed. In fact the post doesn't even say they WERE surveyed, only that they're among TTS' clients. I don't know how many schools were surveyed, but with 400 respondents I think it's safe to say it was more than three.

Louis Lavelle
Associate Editor
Bloomberg Businessweek

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Read daily reports from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Louis Lavelle, Geoff Gloeckler, Alison Damast and Francesca Di Meglio and boost your chances of getting into your best-fit B-school.

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