It’s pretty much a given that many students major in business because they know it will increase the odds that they’ll find a job soon after graduation. After all, an undergraduate business education prepares young people to make an immediate contribution to an employer. That is rarely the case when it comes to many other academic fields, from English and history to geography and psychology.
And the hard data proves the case, especially when it comes to the best business schools. Out of the 88 ranked undergraduate business programs by Poets&Quants in 2018, 50 schools reported that 90% or more of their 2018 graduates had jobs within three months of commencement.
At a time when economists believe the U.S. economy is at full employment, many schools had near perfect placement records for their business undergrads last year. At the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, a remarkable 99.6% of the graduates were employed three months after graduation.
AT THE TOP: WORCESTER POLY, ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY, ILLINOIS GIES, GEORGIA TERRY
And there were a lot of other schools that might not necessarily spring to mind at the top of the list of the most successful schools in placing students: Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Foisie Business School was at 98.8%, Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz School of Business at 98.6%, the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business hit 98.4%, and at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, the number was 97.99%.
Even at schools that occupied the low end of placing their students, every school could claim that more than half of their graduating class of students had jobs. At Ithaca College, which had the lowest employment rate for any of the ranked 88 schools, 59.1% of graduates were able to get jobs within three months.
Often times, undergraduate programs not in the top tier on placement are either more reliant on university-wide career offices or have devoted fewer resources inside their schools. Consider UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business which posted a 2018 employment rate of 75% three months after graduation. Merage tries to leverage the UC office to help its undergrads, having just 1.5 full-time equivalent staffers in career services for its undergrads. Another factor is that 40% of the school’s freshmen admits and 57% of its transfer students are first-generation college students.
‘SOME STUDENTS DON’T FEEL THE URGENCY TO DO AN EARLY JOB SEARCH’
“Some [students] don’t feel urgency to have a job at graduation, or they believe they need the degree before they begin the job search,” explains Maia Young, associate dean of undergraduate programs at UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business. She adds that the school is considering everything from assigning alumni mentors to students, creating a career advising platform and a “passport program” that would give stamps to students who attend career events and lead to an extra cord at graduation.
The best performing undergraduate programs generally have these features already in place. No school, however, beats UT-Austin in having a pro-active career services office that gets students into jobs quickly. While many schools merely put you in touch with career services department, one of the first classes business undergrads get at McCombs are taught by a career coaching professional who will discuss employer trends and examine what skills are in demand. Students are immediately guided through the process of developing a resume, learning out to write cover letters, networking, learning the ropes of job interviews by doing mock sessions with coaches.
The school puts an unusual twist on its coaching efforts, pairing students with career coaches who are assigned students on the basis of their majors. So each coach has more industry and discipline-specific knowledge when they meet one-on-one with students to discuss options and polish job search and interview strategies. McCombs also boasts an additional peer coaching program to gain guidance with internships, career paths, and recruiting with a student who has already been there and done that.
STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE INTERNSHIPS AT MCCOMBS
All of McCombs students are required to do an internship before graduation, an experience that often leads to a full-time job offer. The scale and scope of those internship opportunities at McCombs are impressive. In a recent year, for example, slightly more than one in four students gained internships in finance and banking, but many landed summer jobs with tech firms (16.5%), consulting (10.6%), retail, entertainment, and hospitality (6.0%), energy (5.9%), and consumer goods (5.0%).
There’s a slew of weekly seminars, company visits, professional mentorship opportunities, case interview workshops for would-be consultants to investment banking prep for students eager to get into i-banking. The school also sponsors two career expos every year in spring and winter, providing the chance to interact with more than 180 employers. McCombs says that more than 3,000 internship and full-time job opportunities are posted online at the school every year.
Bottom line: Ask about the resources your target schools provide to their career services offices and how pro-active that staff is with students. It’s not enough to merely have an office; it’s the very best schools in helping students land jobs right out of college are those that actively intervene with students from freshmen year.
The 2018 Special Report On Undergraduate Business Education
(See following page for 2018 employment rates at all 88 ranked business schools)