Graduating into a particularly hot job market, Villanova University’s School of Business Class of 2022 saw some of the highest placement and compensation stats the school has posted.
Class of 2023 grads, however, will enter a much shakier job market after walking across the commencement stage.
According to school employment stats, an almost perfect 99.7% of VSB ‘22 graduates found a job, were continuing their education, or had secured other opportunities within three months of graduation, the highest percentage of any school in our 2023 ranking of the Best Undergraduate Business Schools. In fact, VSB missed a perfect 100% by just one student, says Brenda Stover, Assistant Dean of VSB’s O’Donnell Center for Professional Development.
The school also posted Class of ‘22 salary data that was about 13% higher than the previous class, a trend enjoyed by other top business schools around the country.
“In terms of the array of opportunities, the quantity of hiring, there were a lot of good gains for Class of ‘22. Firms that do significant hiring of college grads were consistently offering signing bonuses and many made significant increases in starting salaries. ” Stover tells Poets&Quants.
“But the class had to suffer a lot of pain from the pandemic. That impacted their internship experiences and things like that. But they did benefit from one of the best job markets in a very, very long time.”
CLASS OF 2022 EMPLOYMENT DATA
Of those who landed jobs, 32.1% of VSB ‘22 graduates went to work in finance while 18.1% went to work in both consulting and accounting. Another 7% work in data and analytics and 5.1% in real estate.
The average starting salary for VSB’s 2022 grads was 13% higher than their 2021 counterparts, rising to $78,078 from ‘21’s average of $69,031. The average signing bonus, reported by 43.5% of job-seeking graduates, was $7,611, bringing the average total compensation to $81,179.
Beyond the favorable job market, there’s a combination of factors that led to VSB’s placement success, Stover says.
First and foremost, the school’s excellent academic program, including a four-year professional development curriculum required for every business student – as opposed to a single course or program. The university’s central career center, with which VSB’s career team works closely, has also strategically expanded its reach in employer relations over the last few years.
“I also think we’re seeing the benefits of our students being competitive in high profile industries like management consulting. We’ve continued in the last three to four years to make significant strides where students are getting offers from top tier consulting firms like Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, and so on, and along with that comes higher average salaries. Same thing in the financial services space,” Stover says.
“So I think it’s a combination of very purposeful, strategic preparation of our students in terms of their professional acumen. I think it’s increased investment on the university’s as well as VSB’s part in terms of the resources to expand our reach. And I think it’s the acumen and the preparation for our students to be competitive in more competitive industries and professions.”
WHY THOSE INTERNSHIP NUMBERS MATTER
VSB also reports that 97.2% of Class of ‘22 graduates participated in at least one internship or CoOp (in which students work at an organization full-time for six months while earning six academic credits) during their time at the school. In addition, 69.4% participated in more than one.
While those numbers are on track with past classes, VSB has been working hard on that second number. Three or four years ago, just around 50% were doing more than one internship or CoOp during their school career.
“Employers are looking for folks who’ve proven themselves in more than one situation, that have demonstrated initiative and motivation,” Stover says. “We’ve really started talking systematically to VSB students in the first semester of their first year about the importance of bridging theory and practice through externships, internships, and CoOp experiences.”
Why is that internship metric so important?
From a student perspective, Stover says, the front-line experience allows students to more deeply explore their desired career path and, frankly, change their minds if it’s not what they envisioned.
“I think also from a more practical standpoint, and that’s one of the things that we have to make sure students are educated about, is what the market is demanding. We’re hearing more and more from the types of employers who hire college grads en-mass – financial services firms, consulting, public accounting – that they’re making the majority of their full time hires from their internship pipeline. So if we’re not introducing students to the reality of that pipeline, helping them to get prepared to get into the pipeline, they’re going to miss significant opportunities”.
In fact, about 60% of VSB Class of ‘22 graduates accepted their first job offer from a previous internship. Almost 44% of graduates had multiple offers, Stover says.
CLASS OF 2023 OUTLOOK
Obviously, internship and employment data for the slate of VSB graduates now getting ready to join the workforce isn’t yet compiled, but it’s certainly fair to say 2023 grads from any school are facing a much more uncertain job outlook this summer.
In November, Universum predicted that 2023 would be a year of rebalancing as talent demand softens and employers take back some of the perks offered the year before to compete for top employees. Meanwhile, a series of high-profile tech layoffs in 2022 had business schools scrambling to attract them to their MBA or other graduate programs. In the first five months of 2023, TechCrunch reported 168,243 layoffs in the sector with 17,926 in April. There’s also been predictions of a possible 2023 recession for months now, and Washington’s contentious debt ceiling debate (of which the U.S. is expected to hit its debt limit sometime in June) makes the coming job market all the more murky.
However, based on conversations with employers, VSB grads aren’t facing a doomsday scenario, Stover says.
“A lot of what we’re hearing is a kind of thinning of the herd in the middle or at higher levels. We have not necessarily heard of students being impacted at the entry level or the internship level in terms of offers being withdrawn,” she tells P&Q. “I have heard anecdotally from some consulting firms that they’re anticipating more cautious hiring in the coming recruiting cycle for interns and full-time hires. I think there’s overall caution, but I have not seen panic at all at the recruiting level.”
Beyond tech consulting, tech isn’t a huge recruiter for VSB grads, so layoffs there haven’t really impacted their grads to a large extent. Stover also believes the professional track foundation VSB has laid positions its grads to handle both very good and very rocky waters equally well. In any job or internship search, coaches tell students to lean into the Villanova network of alumni, professional development resources, and more to help navigate their search if and when it gets more difficult. Plus, the 70% or so of students who have more than one internship or CoOp experience in their time at VSB places them in a better chance to be part of that hiring pipeline.
“The economy is cyclical. I’ve been in the business for 30-some years, and every X number of years we have a rocky period in the market. I think that’s when you rally the troops and you rely on the folks closest to the institution,” she says.
“I have to say, Villanova alums, VSB alums, are literally some of the most willing people to help that I’ve ever connected with at any institution. I think there is a lot of culture of giving back and paying forward, and we will look to actively lean into those folks.”
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