MBA job trends: Students’ career interests continue to diversify — Susan Kline

While many graduating MBA students are still heading to traditional sectors like finance, consulting and technology, one of the biggest trends among top business schools is an increase in the diversity of students’ career interests. Perhaps it’s related to fallout from the financial crisis or even a generational trend, but more and more students are pursuing positions in a broader array of areas.

At MIT Sloan, about 60% of our MBA graduates in the past few years have gone to those traditional areas. Among our other MBA students, we are indeed seeing this trend toward diverse interests. Strong areas of focus for that group include: entrepreneurship; sustainability; energy; social enterprise; health care; operations and supply chain management; and entertainment, media and sports.

This diversification of student interests also is apparent within traditional areas. In the finance sector, we’ve seen more attention on areas like private wealth management, asset management and alternative investments, which includes private equity, hedge funds and venture capital. This makes sense given that these areas are at the more entrepreneurial end of the financial services spectrum and therefore more in line with many current students’ interests. At the same time, student interest in the traditionally popular sector of investment banking seems to be on the wane.

This shift in student interests within the finance sector is good timing because, as of last fall, the banks were hiring more in private wealth management and less on the investment banking side. So the interest of students seems to be balanced with companies’ hiring needs. Looking at all of our finance programs together, including our Master of Finance Program, we’ve seen an increase in MIT Sloan graduates going into finance.

As for entrepreneurship, more students are launching new businesses or working for existing startup organizations after graduation. Last year, 26 of our MBA graduates started their own businesses, which represented 6.5% of the class. This number is up from 25 students in 2008 and close to the 32 in 2011 and 33 in 2010 who founded startups. We expect this year’s numbers to be just as high if not higher.

Another current trend is a shift among the top hiring companies. Although we’ve always had active recruiting in the technology sector, five years ago our top hirers were in the consulting and banking sectors. Now, technology companies are among our biggest recruiters. Amazon was in this tier this year along with McKinsey, BCG and Bain. Also well represented were Microsoft, Apple and Google.

MIT’s expanded portfolio of programs in recent years similarly indicates the diversification of students’ interests. In addition to our long-standing programs like the MBA and MIT Sloan Fellows, newer programs such as the Master of Finance (MFin), Master of Science and Management Studies (MSMS) and Executive MBA (EMBA) all bring students with a variety of interests and experience levels to campus. As our curriculum supports these interests, our students have ample opportunities to explore different sectors both in classes and within the MIT community before graduation.

Although we don’t yet have official career employment numbers for this year’s graduating class, it’s safe to say that they’ll certainly reflect the broadening career interests of our graduate management students.

To view past years’ MBA employment reports, please click here.

Susan Kline is the Director, Master’s Programs, Career Development Office, MIT Sloan School of Management 

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