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September 18, 2008

"B-Schools Wary on Lehman, Merrill Impact"

The September 17th BusinessWeek article, "B-Schools Wary on Lehman, Merrill Impact," makes for somewhat grim reading, especially for those graduating in Spring 2009:

How bad will it be? Most business schools contacted this week say it's too early to tell, but Alan Johnson, CEO of Johnson Associates, a compensation consultancy. predicts hiring will be down by as much as 50% this fall, with students entering what will be one of the most fiercely competitive job markets in recent years.

"While most banks will not admit it, we expect to see few people hired in the fall and banks waiting to see how the environment evolves," Johnson said on Sept. 16.

The article goes on discuss the steps that schools are taking now to address this.

If you are planning to apply for Fall 2009, I would draw your attention to the following paragraphs:
In the meantime, career services officers are advising students to cast a wide net as they conduct their job and internship hunts this fall, especially those who intended to go into investment banking. They should consider jobs in other areas of the financial services sector, such as corporate finance or internal auditing, and consider jobs at small boutique investment firms, said the MBA Career Services Council's Harrell.

"We're being very honest and upfront with our students," said Harrell, also the associate vice-president of Thunderbird School of Global Management's career management center. "They're asking lots of questions, but we're telling them that New York may not be the best place to look right now. For those counting on investment banking, they are going to need to beef up their plan B."

My two takeaways relevant for MBA applicants are:

(1) Think creatively about where you might want to work after you finish your MBA and don't assume saying you want a position at a brand name firm is good idea. Unless you are company-sponsored, returning to your family business, have a very high likelihood of being able to enter a specific firm, and/or are returning to a very stable job market, don't focus very much or perhaps at all on a specific organization that you want to work for. Discuss more about what you want to do rather than where you want to do it.

(2) When thinking about your Post-MBA goals, especially if you are focused on a career in finance (and not company-sponsored) have a "plan B." I talked about a "plan B" yesterday. Effective hedging in today's job market will be seen as a sign of your realism, not a lack of passion. Stay focused on what you want to do and be passionate about that, but think flexibly about how and where you will be able to do it.

Finally, as I mentioned yesterday, stay positive!

P.S. Now if someone could just let me know when the major stock markets hit bottom, I would be ever so grateful.

Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

-Adam Markus
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