Startups, Tech Companies Shop for More MBA Hires

The smallest companies are making the biggest splash on business school campuses, according to a survey released this week. Slightly more schools saw more companies of any size coming to campus to recruit MBAs, driven by a flurry of startups that started to hunt for new hires.

The survey by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, an association of business school career-management offices and companies, found that 55 percent of business schools saw a rise in on-campus recruitment in the spring of 2014. But that growth—up from 48 percent a year earlier—was mostly tepid, since many schools in the survey saw only a modest uptick or reported flat recruitment numbers.

Startups led the way among the types of organizations showing a stronger presence on campus to recruit MBAs. Fifty-three percent of schools said they saw more young companies on campus, while only 33 percent of schools saw an increase in the number of companies with 500 or more employees. That falls in line with the new reality of the MBA job market. For instance, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School reported last summer that 15 percent more of its MBAs interned at startups, a shift from the days when positions at big banks and consulting firms dominated students’ job and internship aspirations.

The technology industry appeared to develop a stronger appetite for MBAs, too, as about 65 percent of schools said they saw more companies from that sector. Sixty-eight percent of schools said tech companies were recruiting more for interns. Tech companies are mostly looking for MBAs to fill positions in marketing and sales or finance, according to a Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) survey (PDF) of corporate recruiters released in May.

Financial-services firms also started to come back to campus. Last year about 21 percent of schools reported a drop in financial-services companies recruiting students, while only 9 percent saw a decline this year. About 44 percent of schools saw more of those companies this year, up from about 27 percent last year.

The results also underline that companies across sectors still look to set foot on high-ranked B-school campuses as a leading method of scouting top talent, though other methods are making gains. Fifty-four percent of schools said alumni-initiated hiring jumped this year, while only 29 percent of schools reported an uptick in career-fair interest, according to Wednesday’s survey. U.S. companies called on-campus recruitment their most effective recruiting tactic–even more than cultivating past and present interns—in the GMAC study.

The MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance survey gathered responses from 80 business schools, most of which are U.S.-based. Seventy-nine percent of schools said they were ranked among the top 50 full-time MBA programs.

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