MBA Career Services at top programs

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MBA Career Services divisions play a pivotal role in the MBA journey. After all, the outcome of the MBA process is ultimately successful career. The MBA Career Services division plays a crucial role in getting MBA students that elusive high-paying, prestigious job, leading to an ultimately successful career. The MBA degree is supposed to teach MBA students the various nuances involved in managing a business. It teaches them the art of managing various aspects of running a small unit or company that in future will make them a good manager. At this junction of their life and career, they need expert guidance to actually ensure that their career takes flight. It is the job of the career services division of MBA programs to actually help them out.

The importance of MBA Career Services at top global MBA programs

Surprise, surprise! Not even top schools have 100% job placement rates. According to the Financial Times MBA Ranking, even schools such as Stanford, INSEAD, and Wharton have 87%, 82%, and 89% respectively of their MBA graduates holding full-time jobs three months after they graduate.

Yes, it’s true – one can end up without a job even at the best MBA programs around the world. As a result, it is only natural that potential MBA students check this criterion before zeroing onto a good MBA university for themselves.

It makes no sense for them to invest so much of time and money in an MBA degree and still not be able to grab a lucrative job. The task of the career service department is to develop and market the job viability and potential of the students.

For fulfilling this, the career service department mentors, guides, advisors, counsels and actually aids students in all possible ways to find a suitable and lucrative job opportunity for themselves.

Where Does a Robust Career Services division of an MBA program fit in?

When we talk about career services in an MBA program, we generally think of it as the last leg of your MBA program. We do not realize that the job of this division starts right from the moment when the students are selected.

Before you apply to a particular B-school, it is important that you understand the kind of opportunities it can get you. Getting swayed by the reputation or ranking of the program is not the right way to approach the process. Research, understanding, and knowledge is the right path.

What do recent graduates have to say about the program?

If you know any recent pass out from your dream B-school, then ensure that you check with them and ask them exactly how good the career services division is. Ask about how the division gets involved, how early, and what the various ways they support the students through are.

The career service program plays an important role as it helps the students to get a proper job for themselves. Different schools have developed different specialties over a period of time. Let us look at what alumni have to say about their experiences with the career divisions of their alma mater.

Career services at the Kellogg School of Management

Kellogg is now known among students for top placements traditional career options – consulting, consumer product marketing, finance. Though it is trying to build a network in emerging and new-age areas, the placements in new age careers such as media, sports, start-ups, internet companies have been limited.

Students looking to opt for placements in such sectors need to do their own legwork. Students have mostly found the kind of companies they were looking for. An important point to note here is that traditional roles are changing.

For example, digital marketing or marketing analytics can be looked at as options that were few and far between a few years ago, but are significant today. Understanding these sectoral trends is important in knowing the kind of roles you can get.

Columbia Business School

Students speak highly of the finance and consulting curriculum of the school with the finance alumni being the most active. The school is looking to lay a strong foundation for Entrepreneurship with a start-up lab and attracting offers from technology and various start-ups.

Large mutual fund companies, major multi-national banks have been regular recruiters here. Students  from different streams such as retail and healthcare need to do a bit of extra leg-work to get the right kind of offers.

According to recent graduates, the school falls behind a bit on Marketing pedagogy and placements are termed as relatively mediocre in this field. Also, if you are not aiming for one of the bigger firms in finance, technology and consulting, get going early, and network with top alumni in these domains in NYC.

The important part to note here is that you should be able to discern job placements at a top MBA program not just in general, but also in relation to the specific sector/kind of firm that you wish to work in.

London Business School

As per the 2016 Employment Report on the website of LBS, 94% of the students were placed within three months of graduating. The sectors for placement remain broadly similar to Technology, Media & Telecom, Finance, and Consulting.

Over the last few years, Technology as a sector has picked up a bit, while Finance has flagged a little. These trends are important for a future student to note.

Important factors to look at when evaluating MBA Career Services divisions

When you are applying to an MBA program ensure that you do a proper study of the success of the recent graduates. The first thing is to check out their profiles in Linked in to gauge just how successful the candidates are in their profession.

When interacting with MBA alumni , use the opportunity to ask about the opportunities for success in different sectors post the MBA program. Also, ensure that you ask them the success rate of the last couple of years and not just last year alone as it would not give them the correct picture of the placement scenario.

Most graduates will be able to give you an idea of not just the year they graduated, but possibly a couple of years before that as well. There are also further factors to look at.

What kind of companies visit the campus for recruitment?

This is a very important factor to keep in mind. Even if placements within a particular sector are high, it may not mean that top employers within that sector necessarily recruit at that school.

Take Consulting as an example. Although many top B-schools report high placements figures in this sector year on year, not all of them have their graduates necessarily getting into the top Strategy Consulting (MBB) firms.

This is an important factor that needs to be kept in mind while selecting your dream MBA program. Please check if your dream company or its peers feature in the list or not. Also, check if how many candidates the company actually selects and what kind of designation and salary is offered by them.

For example, if you are looking to be part of companies like Accenture , Amazon., Apple and Bank of America Merrill Lynch then you should look at Wharton (assuming you can apply to a top B school) as they are the top recruiters there in the last few years.

Similarly, if you are from a relatively niche industry such as Healthcare or Energy, you may want to see the kind of offers that previous MBA graduates from that school have received.

Many of the schools leave a lot to be desired in these new fields as the usual alumni activity is missing here.

After conducting this research, you may well find that the top-ranked programs may not be your top choices. Take this list of European programs, as an example.

What is the average median salary for the last few years?

When you are looking for the right B-school, ensure that you check on the last few years’ average median salary. Check if the trend in salary has been on the rise or fall. Also, check if the salary is as per the industry standard.

To be honest, salary is not the only component that one can evaluate a potential job by, but it is certainly important. Research says that the first salary you get right after B-school can well determine the trajectory of the raises you will receive over the next decade.

What is the mode through which MBA graduates got jobs?

The placement reports of many schools also indicate the mode through which their MBA graduates were able to get the jobs they wanted. This is usually segregated as ‘Through Career Services’, ‘Self Initiated’, ‘Alumni’, and ‘Other’ (the last category usually refers to people going back to their pre-MBA employers).

If you are depending on MBA Career Services to help you find the right role, choosing a school that has a low percentage in the first category will be counter-productive.

Finally, remember – it’s not just about MBA Career Services

Most job searches at top MBA programs are assisted or enabled at some points by MBA Career Services divisions. They are not driven solely by the school. You job search is ultimately that – it is yours and yours alone.

Thus, take responsibility, build networks, look for the right opportunities, and never fail to interface with MBA Career Services on how they can help you to find your post-MBA destination.


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