Take any cursory glance at the top business schools in the US and there you will find the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Darden's prestige is certainly hard-won. In fact, students have been known to compare the wealth of experiences and opportunities during their Darden tenures to “drinking from a firehose.”
Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC) reports that their 2017 class works in an array of fields, with the consulting, financial services, and technology industries as those with the most representation.
More than 200 companies extended internship and job offers to Darden 2017 grads who secured an average base salary of $124,684. Darden MBAs are hot commodities and actively scouted by big-name employers like Microsoft, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), McKinsey & Co., Accenture, Amazon, and Bain & Co.
So, what helps students graduating from a premiere MBA program like Darden land the most lucrative gigs?
BusinessBecause caught up with Jeff McNish, director of the Career Development Center at Darden School of Business, to learn more about how students should navigate the job market and what constitutes effective institutional support.
What do today’s employers want from MBA students?
One big thing we’re addressing here at Darden is communication skills. It’s more important today that students know how to collaborate, influence, and persuade verbally and in writing.
These skills have always been high on an MBA recruiter’s list, but I see how today’s employers are saying, ‘I can teach the technical skills of this work, but I need someone who’s likable, has a strong presence, and who can persuade and influence.’
Also, data analytics is on the employment radar now. Today’s MBAs need to know how to get the data they need, analyze it, and then make recommendations, influence, and persuade others using that information. It’s important now for an MBA student to have a technical mindset where they think like a computer programmer.
What advice do you have for MBA students looking for jobs?
The basic job search strategy it takes to succeed hasn’t changed. Generating a good resume, and LinkedIn profile, which is an extension of that resume, is still important. Writing a good cover letter and introductory emails are also still important.
But, while in the past a student may have been able to rely on their resume and a cover letter to get them the interview, networking—for example, engaging through the career center to interact with the hiring company—is equally as important now.
What aspect of Darden’s CDC are you most proud of?
We have a great employer relations team, which engages companies so they can do their best when they visit campus; and a great career advising team, which builds strong relationships with students.
Those relationships can carry on with alumni. We can call alumni and they will get back in touch with us quickly. Many times, alumni are the ones who come back to recruit.
We also have a team that is specifically dedicated to international students, as a significant portion of our student body comes from around the world. Our leadership is also very generous with the resources and support for all the initiatives we put into place. Those initiatives are to the benefit of the students and the employers.
What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
The best thing about my work is when a student finds you and they tell you that they just received a job offer which they were pursuing. Hearing those words—that they “got the job”—you never forget those moments.
You know the student has been on a journey from the moment they applied all the way to graduation day. And their aim is to have a great educational experience which they can use to transform their employment outlook.
That’s what we do here practically every day. We help transform people’s lives by cultivating significant job opportunities for our students.