Job Prospects for Business School Graduates Grow Dimmer

Adding to the steady drumbeat of news about the worsening economy in the U.S., this week the Wall Street Journal ran a story about how business schools have seen a record drop-off in recruitment for internships and for full-time jobs.

According to a survey that the Journal conducted in January, 56% of career services offices said that on-campus recruiting was down more than 10% this winter. While that’s not necessarily surprising, the trend seems to be accelerating: last fall only 12% estimated that recruiting was down vs. year ago. And activity on the schools’ jobs boards is sluggish, with 50% of career offices reporting that activity was down more than 10%, and 20% saying that job-posting activity was down more than 20%.

Compared to surveys conducted in the fall, this report suggests that the economic slowdown caught all but the most pessimistic business school students and career-services officers off their guard. While all schools were bracing for bad news and rough job prospects in the financial sector, the economic downdraft caused by that industry’s troubles has affected every sector where MBA grads typically find jobs.

If you’re applying to business school now, or are getting ready to apply soon, the obvious question is: What does this mean for you? As we always tell our admissions consulting clients at Veritas Prep, going back to the school (or NOT going back to school) just because of the economy doesn’t make sense. And, if you have a good job right now, the thought of leaving it for an uncertain future can be intimidating. However, know that these downturns typically last no more than 2-3 years, meaning that, by the time you would graduate in 2011 or 2012, the odds are pretty good that the job market will once again return to form.

I personally have walked in these shoes. I applied to business school in 2001/2002, right as the coming recession was compounded by the shock of 9/11 to create headlines about worsening job prospects and rescinded job offers for MBAs. By the time I graduated from Kellogg in 2004, the job market was again humming along nicely, and we battle-hardened second-year students regaled jaded first-years with tales about how rough we had it back in the day. Fast-forward three years, and the Kellogg Management Center again had to enforce rules to keep recruiters from not overdoing it on campus.

My point? These things are always cyclical. While this is a particularly rough cycle, especially for someone who will graduate this spring, the job market will bounce back. It always does.