By Marco De Novellis and Seb Murray
MBA job opportunities are on the rise and the gains are led by Fortune 500 firms, according to a new survey.
The strongest increases in recruiting were seen in the technology and consulting sectors. Financial services firms boosted hiring from specialized master’s programs. The energy industry, hit hard by the fall in oil prices, saw the most significant decrease in recruiting.
“A lot of schools are reporting approximately 20% of their students going into the tech sector, and we don’t see this trend reversing,” said Lara Berkowitz, executive director of London Business School’s Career Centre.
She added: “We’ve already seen MBA hiring in the energy sector slow due to oil prices.”
The MBA Career Service and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA) polled 83 MBA and specialized master’s programs.
Some 65% of respondents experienced an increase in on-campus recruiting for full-time MBA students; 61% in off-campus recruiting.
“The positive trend we’ve observed extends from traditional full-time MBA programs through part-time MBA and specialized master’s degrees,” said Damian Zikakis, president of the MBA CSEA and director of career services at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
For part-time MBA students, 64% of schools saw an increase in off-campus, full-time job openings. But most schools reported on-campus recruiting of their part-time MBAs was flat.
Approximately 55% of respondents saw an increase in both on and off-campus recruiting of specialized master’s students into full-time posts.
The business schools, most of which are in North America, saw a slight decrease in job opportunities for international students. This reflects issues arising from US visa restrictions. US businesses have said that there is a lack of H-1B visas, typically used by big companies and universities, causing them to lose out on top talent.
The findings come as schools step up their efforts to help students with job searches. Schools have increased virtual careers events and career-related webinars, alongside the more traditional mentoring schemes and company treks.
Students at CUHK Business School in Hong Kong have recently returned from a field trip to Singapore, where they visited big-name firms like Apple, Google and KPMG.
“Apple was the company we all enjoyed the most,” said Gerardo Salandra, a full-time MBA at CUHK. “They were extremely open.”
Job opportunities increased across all programs, regardless of a school’s place in the most prominent MBA rankings.
More than 60% of respondents from schools ranked 1-20 in the main ranking tables — including from the Economist, Bloomberg, Forbes and the Financial Times — said on-campus recruiting had increased. But 83% of respondents from schools ranked 21-50 did, too, as well as 70% of respondents from non-ranked schools.
Meanwhile, a considerable number of students are focusing their job search on smaller, less established firms.
In a year when Harvard Business School opened up its first off-campus start-up incubator in New York, 48% of respondents to the MBA CSEA survey reported an increase in recruitment among start-ups.
“Students seek a dynamic, fast-paced and cutting-edge business experience. Entrepreneurial ventures clearly fit the bill,” said Ted Zoller, director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.