MBA Student Hiring Steady

CORRECTION APPENDED

The number of graduating Harvard Business School MBA students who have received job offers at this point in the year has held largely steady despite the current financial slump, a career services official said last week.

A “flash poll” taken by the Business School’s MBA Career Services in mid-February showed that 90 percent of second-year Business School job-seekers had received offers—down just slightly from a year ago, according to Managing Director of MBA Career Services Jana P. Kierstead. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]

Eighty-eight percent of students responded to the survey.
While the number of offers remains nearly unchanged, the number of recruiters seeking candidates appears to have declined significantly.

According to Kierstead, this year has seen a 27 percent drop in postings to an online job board for HBS students.

The finance sector is at the forefront of the downturn, she said.
And, two students alleged, some recruiters who did come to campus had little intent of making job offers, and continued interviewing only to maintain a relationship with the school.

“There were some [interviews] where I knew the second I walked in I didn’t have a job,” said second-year student Laura E. Huddleston. “[The recruiter] was sitting back in his chair, thinking: ‘Why am I here? Why are you here?’”

Huddleston said that students from other business schools whom she had met while interviewing off-campus had the impression that Harvard was not suffering as much as other schools.

“They think that we aren’t having any problems,” she said. “They think we’re just using the brand name and we’re not concerned at all.”

Though the number of students with offers remains unchanged, slightly less than half of these have actually accepted their offers—a number down from last year.

Ben A. Swisher, another second-year, said it was difficult to find an ideal job in today’s economy, and that certain compromises had to be made.

Swisher said he had just accepted an offer in Washington, D.C. after giving up hope of finding one in Boston.

When the financial crisis hit, HBS Dean Jay O. Light urged his school’s career services to take steps to better prepare students for the tough job market and to increase the number of recruiters on campus.

A few days after the noted investment bank Lehman Brothers fell in September, the Business School responded by implementing a plan to better train students for interviews and adding recruitment programs for employers in Paris and Shanghai.

Kierstead also said that the office recently installed a video conference terminal in the basement for corporations who cannot afford to fly interviewees to their headquarters.  

No one had demanded the technology before this year, Kierstead added. But in just over three weeks since its installation, 49 students and 29 companies have made use of the system.

—Staff writer William N. White can be reached at wwhite@fas.harvard.edu.

CORRECTION

Due to an editing error, the Feb. 24 news article "MBA Student Hiring Steady" incorrectly stated that a “flash poll” taken by the Harvard Business School’s MBA Career Services in mid-February showed that 90 percent of second-year Business School students seeking jobs had received offers. In fact, the poll reported that 77 percent of second-year students seeking jobs had received offers.