What sorts of people graduate from top business schools without jobs?

Since starting the business school application process, I have been somewhat perplexed by the employment numbers at top schools. It seems that at even very good programs, you will frequently have a full 10-25% of a class graduate without jobs.

This is one of those issues where parties involved seem totally unable to give a cogent and candid response to what is going on. The schools don't seem to treat it as much of an issue, while business journalists love writing stories about how "the MBA is no guarantee"

What I have not gotten a clear sense of is who are these people who are not able to get jobs. Are these people who are ridiculously ambitious and holding out for something better? Are they actually not getting offers? Do they fall at the bottom of the class or have certain personality issues that put people off? Is it possible the numbers are even worse than they appear (I know that with JDs Minnesota Law School fudged their numbers by giving all unemployed grads jobs in the law library, because it was a position that required a law degree eventhough it paid somewhere around minimum wage).

At Wharton, for example, are there large numbers of students interested in Consulting or Finance who honestly get no offers, or are they simply not getting offers at MBB or Goldman and holding out for those?

To keep the conversation focused, I am not asking about schools outside the top 20 who very well may have placement issues for other reasons. I am also not remarking on the spike in unemployed students that coincided with the financial crisis.

Any thoughts or theories on this?

Comments (6)

Apr 3, 2012

merp

    • 1
Mar 31, 2012

Yes, even at HSW there are students who are unable to land consulting or finance offers, and no it's not always because they are holding out for something better. Some people, and especially those with no prior business experience and those without perminant US work authorization, just don't catch a break.

Generally all consulting and finance interviews take place over the course of a few weeks. Even though 100+ employers come to campus, because you can't be in two places at once, at most your going to be able to do 10-15 interviews. Since these are almost all very selective employers who, in most cases, make around 1 offer for every 10 interviewees, you can easily see how it's very possible to come through OCR with nothing. In fact, most years I'd say 30% of a give class lands nothing at OCR. For these people all they can do is fallback on their network (which now includes their bschool network) and their resume - just like anyone else not in bschool. For those who don't have resumes relevant to finance/consulting/business, or who need visas, the job search can extend past graduation. With all the admissions offices scrambling to add students with "diverse" work experience and international backgrounds, there are plenty of students, even at HSW, who fall into these buckets.

Bottom line is don't go to business school expecting it to get you a job you'd have no chance of getting without the MBA. If your resume wouldn't interest McKinsey or Goldman now, it won't interest them once it says Harvard MBA on the top.

Mar 31, 2012
jonnytrep:

Since starting the business school application process, I have been somewhat perplexed by the employment numbers at top schools. It seems that at even very good programs, you will frequently have a full 10-25% of a class graduate without jobs.

It's because MBA programs are not the magic pill that people are often led to believe. In fact, the same can probably be said of all levels of formal education.

Mar 31, 2012
econ:
jonnytrep:

Since starting the business school application process, I have been somewhat perplexed by the employment numbers at top schools. It seems that at even very good programs, you will frequently have a full 10-25% of a class graduate without jobs.

It's because MBA programs are not the magic pill that people are often led to believe. In fact, the same can probably be said of all levels of formal education.

This - and it applies to the "Target v non-target" debate as well. Attending a top school gives you a leg up when recruiting comes around because you've gone through so many hurdles to get that far, employers give you a certain benefit of the doubt. But it happens quite often that people make it that far academically, and then shit the bed during interviews. Some people are extremely smart, but can't transition that academic success into these elite gigs (IB, Consulting, etc). Those employers are looking for the pedigree as a baseline expectation, but then also something intangible that you may, or may not have.

Mar 31, 2012

Really interesting insights. Thanks guys

Mar 31, 2012
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