Good news, MBA grads (and soon-to-be grads): The job market is finally, undoubtedly warming up for business school graduates. Earlier this month the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released a pair of annual international surveys that show that the Class of 2011 is having an easier time landing jobs than grads of recent years, and that employers are bullish on their future hiring plans.
Perhaps the purest litmus test is the percentage of job-seeking students who land jobs before they graduate. Here we see a definite improvement in the 2011 GMAC Global Management Education Graduate Survey results, with 54% of students reporting they had at least one job offer in March, compared to just 32% of those surveyed at the same time last year. For full-time, two-year MBA students, this number is the highest it’s been since 2008.
A big driver of the improved numbers is the increased optimism among hiring companies. According to GMAC’s 2011 Corporate Recruiters Survey, two-third of employers say they expect to hire MBA grads this coming year, compared to 62% last year and just 50% two years ago. Many of these companies have waited as long as possible before restocking their talent pools, but we suspect an improving economy and natural attrition are making it harder for them to hold out much longer.
Not only do hiring measures look good, but salary data are also encouraging. Looking at MBA grads in the U.S., new hires will earn an average base salary of $91,433 this year, up from $89,141 in 2010 and $86,299 in 2009. (Visit GMAC’s web site for an interactive graph that lets you play with the survey data.)
While we haven’t yet seen (and may not see) the dramatic snap back in hiring that often follows a recession, it looks like the worst is behind us now. The fact that companies aren’t aggressively hiring right now may prove to be a good thing in the long run… The less likely they are to overdo it today, the more likely they are to keep hiring two or three years from now. The market will always be cyclical, but perhaps the next valley won’t quite be so low.
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Harvard Business School recently released its application essays and deadlines for the 2011-2012 admissions season. Note that these are for Harvard’s traditional MBA program; we covered the HBS 2+2 Program application last month. (The two applications have become very similar to one another.)
Here are the new essays and deadlines, followed by our comments in italics:
Harvard Business School Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 3, 2011
Round 2: January 10, 2012
Round 3: April 10, 2012
These deadlines are very similar to last year’s deadlines. Harvard’s Round 1 deadline crept back by two days and its Round 2 deadline crept forward by a day. The Round 3 deadline moved the most: It comes ten days later than it did last year. Most importantly, note that applying in Round 1 means that you’ll hear from Harvard no later than December 19, 2011. That will give you at least a couple of weeks before most other schools’ Round 2 deadlines, in case you decide to wait to hear from HBS before pulling the trigger on a few additional applications.
Harvard Business School Application Essays
- Tell us about three of your accomplishments. (600 words)
For years this question asked, “What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such?” but Harvard has simplified the question, just as it did on the application for the HBS 2+2 Program. While the wording is different, though, the heart of the question is unchanged: They don’t explicitly ask for your “most substantial” accomplishments anymore, but of course you still need to come up with three impressive stories. Remember that we’re talking about HBS here, so at least one (preferably at least two) of your examples should highlight leadership. However, don’t overlook stories that also demonstrate other traits that admissions officers look for, including teamwork, innovation, and maturity. Regardless of the question’s phrasing, remember that the “why” in your story is even more important than the “what,” so be sure to spell out why these accomplishments are so critical to describing you as an emerging business leader. Also, ideally you will be able to draw upon multiple types of experiences — not only on the job, but also from your community involvement, your hobbies, and even, in some cases, your personal life.
- Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)
This question is also new this year. Harvard used to ask you to describe what you have learned from a mistake, but now this question has evolved to complement the “three accomplishments” question. Whether you call them mistakes, failures, or setbacks, these examples all share a common thread: They serve to show how you have grown in your relatively short professional career. The word “setbacks,” specifically, is interesting since it gives you the opportunity to talk about challenges you faced that weren’t necessarily of your own doing. For example, getting laid off when your company goes out of business represents a setback, but not a mistake. So, now you have more options here. In some respects describing three setbacks in 600 words is even harder than discussing three accomplishments, since the most important part of any “setback” essay is showing what you learned and how you grew as a result. Still, your mission will be to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). Having one or two good work-related stories will be important, but remember to look for experiences in all aspects of your life. Your best, most valuable “setback” story may very well come from outside your job.
- Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)
This question is also new, although we would argue that it’s an evolution of an old HBS application question that asked, “What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?” The key difference now is that, while that old question was very forward-looking, this new question will best be answered with a blend of discussion about your past and your intended future career path. Both are necessary ingredients for a credible, compelling essay here. For instance, you could write, “I want to get an MBA so that I can launch a global non-profit organization to wipe out illiteracy,” but if philanthropy and an interest in education don’t show up anywhere else in your background, this may seem like nothing more than a bunch of hot air. Also, although there’s no more talk of “career vision,” it’s important to show that you’re realistic about what an MBA can do for you. Earning an MBA is just one piece (albeit an important one) of your career puzzle, and you want to show the admissions committee that you understand where it fits in the grand scheme of things.
- Answer a question you wish we’d asked. (400 words)
Another new question this year, and we really like this one. Questions like this may seem intimidating at first, but strong applicants will find them very valuable since they can serve one of two purposes: They can serve as a “catch-all” where you can cover important themes that you haven’t yet covered in another essay, or they can help you tell an interesting story that will stick in admissions officers’ minds. An example of the former is dedicating this essay to telling a story that doesn’t strictly qualify as an accomplishment but still demonstrates an important trait, such as teamwork or maturity. An example of the latter is discussing a unique hobby that you enjoy, one that would never come up in your application otherwise. Of course, they key is to tie that back to your overall story — saying, “I like to swim in the ocean” isn’t very effective if you can’t explain why it matters to you — but you can use this essay too pique admissions officers’ interest. If you manage to land an interview with Harvard, imagine how great it would be to hear the interviewer ask, “You do a lot of ocean swimming? That’s interesting! Tell me more.”
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The Yale School of Management is one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the world, and we get inquiries about it from prospective applicants all the time. Given its climb in the rankings in recent years, odds are that you’ve considered it, too. But, how well do you really know the school? How do you know if you and Yale are a good fit? How do you know if the Yale admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school?
Today we look at four reasons why you might want to apply to Yale SOM this year:
You want to enter the public sector or nonprofit world.
This one is already very well known, of course, but to leave this unmentioned would be sacrilege. Yale is considered the best program for nonprofit, and SOM is right up there with Ross and Stanford in scoring on the social responsibility and corporate ethics scales.
Consulting and finance appeal to you.
Despite the common wisdom that Yale is the school for non-profits and other bleeding-hearts, the fact is that SOM places more graduates into consulting than any other field except finance. And this is hardly a surprise: With the unique cross-functional approach to its education, Yale creates strategic thinkers with nimble minds, who are able to deal with ambiguity and consider multiple perspectives as they work through problems – all ideal qualities in a good consultant. Yale’s proximity to Wall Street means that plenty of graduates move to the next state south when they are ready to begin their careers.
You prefer a small, tight-knight class.
Partly because of the small class and the close bonds that form during the business school experience, and partly because of the tilt towards “doing good” that attracts many to Yale in the first place, Yale students can expect to receive a lot of help, both while completing their studies and when looking for that key internship or first job — or second, third, or fourth. The faculty and administration remain directly involved in their students’ careers and are well connected with industry, making for win-win relationships that benefit the entire SOM ecosystem.
You have a high GMAT score.
While we don’t want to discourage an otherwise strong candidate from considering Yale, the truth is that, with such a tiny class size, the admissions committee really cannot afford to admit more than a handful of students with scores below a 660. Because the GMAT scores of its students factor in, rightly or wrongly, in some of the rankings methodologies, we believe Yale is especially vigilant about this metric and will be hard pressed to admit a candidate who is sub-par on the test side. There are of course always exceptions, but just know that other schools with larger classes can more easily absorb candidates with a wider spectrum of profile statistics.
To learn more about Yale SOM and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
UCLA’s Anderson School of Management is one of the top-ranked business school in the world, and we get inquiries about it from prospective applicants all the time. If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re interested in Anderson, too. But, how well do you really know the school? How do you know if you and Anderson are a good fit? More to the point, how do you know if the Anderson admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school?
Today we look at five things you should know before applying to UCLA Anderson:
The UCLA Anderson Culture
The emphasis on teamwork inside and outside of the classroom is the hallmark of the UCLA Anderson experience and the foundation for the rest of the school’s approach. Student collaboration and leadership within teams is the attribute that ties everything together at UCLA Anderson. Many business schools have great student cultures, but Anderson’s culture is virtually unmatched, save perhaps for Kellogg. In fact, Anderson and Kellogg can often seem very similar in this one area of true collaboration and a spirit of teamwork that runs through the entire program.
A Commitment to Diversity
Not only does UCLA Anderson have a wide mix of students across every spectrum — age, racial background, country of origin, gender — but it also attracts a very diverse mix of students by profession, both in terms of what career Anderson students pursued before getting their MBAs, and what new direction they are taking themselves upon graduation. Unlike most schools which have a high concentration of sending graduates to just one or two separate industries, Anderson graduates disperse all across the workforce in a vast array of industries and jobs. There is not one predominant career focus at Anderson, which fosters a vibrant community and eliminates some of the cliques that can develop at other schools.
Real Social Venture Initiatives
Social enterprise programs have sprouted at most top business schools and “doing good” is a theme on a lot of campuses, however the wealth of on-campus activities and resources at Anderson and the number of opportunities to get involved is more extensive than at many other top MBA programs. From the standards like the NetImpact club, to Challenge for Charity, to the very unique Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans and a wide range of others, Anderson students have the ability to participate in important efforts to make the most of their time at business school.
Anderson was the first major business school to create a special certificate in sustainability for its MBA program, and now the Leaders for Sustainability has grown to over 100 students every year. Anderson is also seeking LEED certification for its building, and students participate in the 1000 Homes competition and the California Clean Innovation Conference, among other events, every year.
Other schools offer entrepreneurship, but few have innovation and new thinking ingrained into the culture the same way that UCLA Anderson does. From the Business Creation Option of its Applied Management Research requirement, in which students literally start a new venture, to the multiple business plan competitions and Entrepreneurship Week, Anderson students are immersed in the entrepreneurial mindset on campus.
To learn more about Anderson and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!