Corporate US ills put squeeze on business graduate jobs

July 12, 2002

Wall Street's implosion, the spectacular lapses of corporate government and accounting scandals are taking their toll on the top US business schools.

After the widespread job shakeouts that characterised 2001, especially after September 11, few of the US's leading consultancies and financial institutions are hiring again, and jobs are scarce.

Even the high-tuition fee Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, last year rated top internationally by the Wall Street Journal , had placed only 73 per cent of its class of 2002 on graduation compared with almost 90 per cent in past years. The range for most MBA schools in the US is reported to be between 50 and 75 per cent.

The picture is better - for Tuck at least - for placements on internships arranged between the first and second years of the two-year MBA programme. The school's career service has placed all its 2003 class on internships. which often lead to full-time jobs after graduation.

This summer, 6 per cent of internships are with not-for-profit organisations. The corporate scandals of the past year form only part of the reason for the increasing interest in the not-for-profit sector among MBA graduates, according to Tuck academics. Just as important is the recognition that the sector demands at least the same levels of professional management as the commercial world.

The school has run an elective on non-profit management since 1997 as part of an initiative to build the concept of corporate citizenship into the MBA programme. Organisers have been amazed at the degree of interest - about a third of the class elects to take the course.

John Vogel, adjunct professor of business administration, said: "They don't take it because they think it is going to help them get a job with an investment bank or a consulting firm - they take it because they're interested and they think it is going to be an important part of their lives."

Graduates who want to work for a not-for-profit organisation but are deterred by the gaping salary differential - in more usual times Tuck MBAs can command salaries of $122,000 (£80,000) on graduation - can benefit from a fund that offers $5,000-$20,000 for a year to bridge the gap.

Jessie Johnson, who finished his MBA this summer, is looking for a job with a not-for-profit but admits: "Money is a concern. I find myself thinking I could not live a normal life on the salary. But ever more non-profits are recognising not only the value of an MBA but justifying the expense of paying an MBA more."

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