When Alumni Speak, It Pays to Listen

Jan 23, 2012
Tags: Alumni, Choosing the Right School, School Selection

Who better to give you the inside track on job hunting and career advancement than b-school alumni? Whether from the class of 2011 or 2001, alumni know: The job search and planning for career advancement begin the moment you first set foot in a classroom.

Take this on the authority of nearly a thousand global alumni from across graduate management programs in the class of 2011 who recently shared details about their job search expectations, strategies, and outcomes in securing that first job out of graduate business school. The good news is that 86% of last year’s grads had jobs when surveyed shortly after they left campus—an outcome that required many hours of searching, networking, out-of-the-box thinking, and advance planning on the part of those grads. The extent of job search efforts varied, of course: Details like the degree program completed, the industry and size of the company where they sought work, the job level applied for—entry or senior—and often the amount of past work experience were often dependent. 

The table below shows the job search methods most frequently used by class of 2011 grads. On the whole, top choices for pursuing the job search included tapping into their network of contacts (20%), leveraging school career services (20%), and participating in on-campus interviews (17%).


Network to Expand the Job Search 

Alumni surveyed from the class of 2011 reported that engaging in networking activities was the most time-intensive and most frequently utilized element of their job search process—averaging 157 hours per respondent. But those hours paid off in employment—37% cited networking as the most successful means of finding a job. 

Certain networking activities also influenced the decision of many a class of 2011 alumni to consider expanding their job search or switching careers, including: 

• Opportunities to meet with industry representatives and recruiters (42%), 

• Networking with peers and classmates (28%), and 

• Networking with alumni (22%).

Intern School For a Strong Footing at Graduation 

In terms of job placement upon graduation, those with prior work experience have the clear edge. One of the best ways to acquire that experience is by participating in an internship while earning your degree. Nearly one-fourth (23%) of alumni who completed a two-year full-time MBA program last year successfully transitioned from an internship to a full-time job upon graduation. Overall, 13% of alumni from the class of 2011 held internships and continued working for the same employer once they graduated. Their average starting salaries for a first job after graduation were also much higher at more than US$86,000 than the average starting alumni salary of US$72,000.

Network Again for Career Advancement

The same networking strategies that aid alumni in securing jobs after graduation continue to facilitate upward career momentum for alumni in upper-level managerial roles who may have been working for a number of years. Many of these successful alumni engage in self-directed career development strategies that are networking-based and use project-based approaches to taking their careers further. More than half (53%) of three-thousand-plus alumni from the classes of 2000 to 2009 who contributed to our April 2010 survey revealed that building relationships with upper management was the most common networking strategy they used to help build their careers. Fifty-four (54%) percent of this group also reported that becoming involved in high-profile projects was the most popular means for career development. 

Learn More About Alumni Job Search Strategies and Career Satisfaction 

To help fine tune your goals for graduate management education and learn how more than 4,000 alumni transitioned from classroom to career, check out two new Data to Go reports on alumni job search strategies and career levels, as well as our recently published 2012 Alumni Perspectives Survey report, which highlights all of our major findings.  As a recent blog post advised: It’s not just about the degree; it’s what comes after. Keep your “eyes on the prize” and plan now for the career you wish to have.