Are Companies Offering Business School Internships and Jobs Right Now?

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Among the most valuable aspects of the MBA or business master’s experience is the business school internship. Internships offer priceless opportunities to gain experience in a different job function or industry, test your fit with a specific organization, and build new skillsets in an actual workplace setting. Most internships for two-year MBA programs take place in the summer between school years and in the summer following the program for one-year business master’s students.

Amid all the havoc wrought by COVID-19, are companies offering business school internships right now? And what about hiring for business school graduates?

According to the new findings of the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Corporate Recruiters Survey—an annual poll of employers who regularly recruit business school graduates—internship opportunities remain ample this year, but they will be different than the norm. And while hiring for the remainder of this year will likely be depressed, recruiters express a high level of optimism as they look to 2021.

9 in 10 responding companies plan to offer business school internships this year

Initial data collection for this year’s survey was nearing conclusion in March, just as COVID-19 escalated into a global pandemic. Given the significant disruption to recruitment and hiring, GMAC conducted an additional wave of data collection with a focus on the impact of COVID-19.

Comparing wave 1 and 2 of data collection, company plans to offer business school internships were virtually unchanged. Among wave 1 respondents, 85 percent of corporate recruiters said they will offer 2020 internships, and in wave 2 89 percent did.

This echoes responding companies’ headcount plans for 2020 overall. In wave 2 of the survey, just 17 percent said they plan to decrease company headcount this year, compared with 61 percent who say they plan to keep headcount about the same and 22 percent who plan to increase headcount.

Most companies report that business school internships will begin virtually

While the show goes on for business school internships, just 16 percent of responding companies say they will proceed as originally planned. Most companies report that they will begin virtually (52%)—especially among the Global Fortune 100 (81%) and Global Fortune 500 (61%). About 1 in 5 companies say that some of their internships have been shortened (19%), and 13 percent say their internship start dates will be delayed.

Watch our video: The Value of an MBA Internship for Career Switchers

Less than 1 in 10 responding companies have rescinded business school job offers

On the jobs front, current prospective business school applicants should take heart that companies largely did not abandon their pre-COVID job offers to class of 2020 business school graduates.

How much could you earn with a graduate business degree? Find out by using our interactive salary calculator tool.

Overall, just 8 percent of responding companies said they rescinded job offers to class of 2020 graduates. About 1 in 3 (32%) said they delayed new hires start dates. Consulting firms were more likely to say they were delaying start dates (51%), likely because they are waiting to gain more clarity about their organizations’ ability to secure future business amid all the economic uncertainty. On the other hand, just 16 percent of responding tech firms report that they delayed new business school hire start dates.

Optimism for 2021 MBA and business master’s hiring

Amidst the economic retraction that has gripped the global economy since March, the findings highlighted in this year’s report are noteworthy for the optimism employers express as they look to 2021.

Before COVID-19, 92 percent of firms expressed intent to hire MBA graduates in 2020, a figure that dipped to 77 percent during sampling during COVID-19. However, when asked about hiring plans for 2021, nearly 90 percent of employers said they plan to hire MBA graduates, a level similar to the rate seen in pre-COVID sampling.

Hiring plans for business master’s graduates in 2020 remained relatively stable between waves 1 and 2 of the survey, with the exception of Master of Data Analytics, which declined from 72 percent to 56 percent. Employers’ 2021 hiring plans for Master in Management and Master of Accounting graduates are about the same as the early 2020 findings, while Master of Data Analytics and Master of Finance show a slight decline.

Confidence in business school hires remains strong

Even as the pandemic continues to shake global economies and shape the future of work, the confidence of corporate recruiters in the skills and abilities of graduate business school talent remains strong.

Before COVID-19, 90 percent of respondents indicated they were highly confident or confident about the ability of business schools to prepare students for success in their organization. That figure held steady at 87 percent in the surveying performed this summer, highlighting the attractiveness of MBA degree holders and their ability to perform in times of transition and change.

Recruiters cited strategic thinking, communication skills, and versatility as the skills they’re most confident in when it comes to a business school’s ability to prepare graduates for success in the workforce. One of the more noteworthy shifts when examining skills demand is the ability to navigate the challenges of technological disruption; this was identified by more than two-thirds of employers as becoming more important as a result of COVID-19, followed by strong communication skills.

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