Business Students Explore Alternate Routes Into Job Market

By Staff

February 25, 2009

The economic downturn is causing many Masters of Business Administration students to lower their expectations about entering the job market.

Business Week reports that earlier this month at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, a career workshop called "MBA Jobs You've Never Considered" drew 70 students, an unusually large turnout for a spring career workshop. School officials explained that although students generally have jobs lined up by February, this year many are looking for more opportunities to extend their job searches. Rather than touting investing banking or management consulting, the workshop concentrated on nonprofit and government work.

Although few new business graduates typically take positions in nonprofits or government, the recession has taken its toll on MBAs: According to Reuters, U.S. employers cut payrolls in January by the most in 34 years, and President Barack Obama has called for a $500,000 cap on pay of chief executives of companies receiving federal bailout money. Moreover, more than 19,000 Wall Street employees have been laid off since the start of the financial crisis.

Patrick Perrella, the director of MBA career development at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business in Indiana, told Business Week that changing course is an easy decision "if your choice is a government job at a lower salary or no job at all."

Reuters notes that Massachusetts Institute of Technology officials estimated that recruiters on campus were offering 20 percent fewer positions this year. In addition, government data indicated that more than 150,000 students received MBA degrees in 2006-2007, resulting in an extremely competitive job market.

Diane Riemer, assistant director for graduate career services at Boston University's School of Management, told Reuters that students must be open to different options, including moving abroad, where multinationals and local companies are hiring.

"I was looking to do a lot of work in the U.S., but one of the suggestions I got was that this is the right opportunity to go and explore," noted Anand Mohanrangan, an MIT student originally from India, who was quoted in Reuters. Other students worry, however, that lower pay abroad may not allow them to repay college loans.

Ironically, the economic downturn has also resulted in a growth of business program applications, as many newly laid-off workers consider returning to school to pursue MBAs while hoping to ride out the recession. CNNMoney reports that the Graduate Management Admissions Council noted that 77 percent of full-time graduate business programs reported an increase in applications late last year.

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