04 Jun 2009

Harvard Business School Students Prepare to Enter the Job Market

HBS Leadership Fellows Program Announces 2009-10 Recipients

BOSTON— This year’s Harvard Business School graduates will step into a job market they did not anticipate two years ago when submitting their application to the MBA program. Because of the economic crisis, the landscape for MBAs has changed significantly and with that, so have employment opportunities.

“Given the economic climate, we’re very happy with the employment status of our current second-year students,” said Jana Kierstead, Managing Director of Harvard Business School’s MBA Career Services. “Career Services works with MBAs from the moment they step on campus to help them pursue a vision for a unique and meaningful career path. Although opportunities for immediate employment may have changed in the past year, our students’ five- to seven-year vision generally has not. So, we’ve been helping them explore alternative paths to reach their goal. For some that means starting in a different kind of job or even a different field from the one they originally expected, while others have chosen to continue their education or start their own company.”

Of the 889 students graduating with a Harvard MBA this June and actively seeking employment, 83 percent have a job offer on the table - compared to last year’s 95 percent. Twenty percent of the Class of 2009 are not seeking employment, having chosen to return to work with their former employer, embark on an entrepreneurial endeavor (27 of this year’s graduates are starting their own business), or continue their education.

As far back as April 2008, HBS Career Services began to think about how the School could better support students and recruiters alike in the event of an economic downturn. “When the economic crisis hit, Career Services already had a plan in place, and we were ready to respond,” continued Kierstead.

As part of its list of recommendations, Career Services enlarged the scope of its programs, providing more assistance with the self-assessment process, industry introductions, peer Career Teams, and individual career coaching. Career Services added 10 new coaches, several with direct experience in the financial services sector, bringing the total number of coaches to 43.

“We also decided to continue to provide career services to the Class of 2008," said Kierstead. "As these recent graduates proceed with their job search, or their employment situation changes because of the economy, HBS is there to support them.”

As an indicator of how some sectors may benefit from the recession, specialized career support programs focused on social enterprise and entrepreneurship saw an uptick in activity from this year’s graduates. Twenty-one of this year’s HBS graduates will join the School’s Leadership Fellows program, which gives a select group of graduates the chance to make a significant contribution in nonprofit and public-sector organizations through a one-year fellowship. Participating organizations pay Fellows $45,000, and HBS supplements this with a one-year grant of an equal amount. Fellows are supported throughout the year with access to HBS resources and periodic returns to campus for organized networking and professional development events with other Fellows.

This year, the number of Fellows increased by more than 100 percent. Since its inception in 2001, 78 MBAs and 39 organizations participated in the program. They will work in the following organizations:

“What this diverse group of Leadership Fellows shares is a common commitment to apply their skills and to have an impact within organizations that are tackling some of society’s most challenging issues," said Professor Joseph L. Badaracco, Chair of the Harvard MBA Program. "Nonprofit and public-sector organizations can leverage the experience, enthusiasm, and analytical skills of our MBAs, who in turn are given the opportunity to take part in significant managerial positions that provide unique leadership development opportunities immediately upon graduation.”

Since the start of the program, more than 90 percent of Fellows have received an offer to stay at the organization that initially employed them. Approximately one-third of the program’s alumni are still at that organization, while one-third have moved on to a similar operation, and one-third have joined the for-profit sector. For more information, click here.

First year MBAs are also finding unique opportunities for summer internships with support from the HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellowships program and the Rock/Lebor Entrepreneurial Summer Fellowships program. Funded by the School and alumni donors, these programs support students pursuing social impact and entrepreneurial positions during the summer. This year, 127 HBS MBAs are taking part in the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship program - double the number that participated in the program last year - working with 87 organizations in 22 countries, including the Acumen Fund, the Boston Ballet, District of Columbia Public Schools, Jumpstart, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Partners in Health, the Sacramento Mayor’s Office, TechnoServe, the U.S. Department of Energy. Thirty-seven MBAs will be participating in the Rock/Lebor Entrepreneurial Summer Fellowships program this year, which enables students to take a job at a smaller entrepreneurial venture or work on their own start-up.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.