Alumni Network Found to Influence MBA Job Search Strongly |

Alumni Network Found to Influence MBA Job Search Strongly

By Tim Dhoul

Updated July 8, 2019 Updated July 8, 2019

The value of a business school’s alumni network, in the eyes of its current students, has a strong bearing on their post-MBA job choices, according to new research from professors at NYU Stern and MIT Sloan.

In fact, in a study of 600 students’ MBA job search across two years at a leading business school, newly minted graduates were found to be four times as likely to accept an offer of full-time employment when it came through their business school’s faculty or alumni network than if the offer came through on-campus recruiting without any such connection to their place of study.

They were also more likely to accept less money – the researchers found lower total compensation packages for those MBA job offers emanating from the alumni network, causing them to conclude that students believe the long-term prospects of these jobs will be better than those on offer through prior employers, on-campus recruiting or even summer internships without this alumni link.

Alumni can vouch for job prospects says NYU Stern professor

“Students look to and trust an alumnus from their school who ‘looks like them in three years’ to provide inside information about growth opportunities within the firm,” said Jason Greenberg, coauthor of the study and a management professor at NYU Stern with a particular interest in social networks. Indeed, when asked what led them to accept an MBA job offer, the number one choice in the sample was ‘growth potential’.  Although the study’s sample left business school between 2009 and 2010, this finding matches the top reason given by MIT Sloan’s latest crop of graduates as to why they had accepted a specific MBA job offer.

Prioritizing growth over money also ties in with QS’s annual research into the ambitions of those applying to MBA programs. Improving career prospects and learning new skills were the top two reasons given for wanting to pursue an MBA in the 2015 edition, while boosting salary earnings was only the sixth most-given reason out of a total of eight. Here, the desire to build professional connections by joining a business school’s alumni network also tested higher than salary growth.

‘The Strength of Weak Ties in MBA Job Search: A Within-Person Test’ is to appear in Sociological Science and is coauthored between NYU Stern’s Greenberg and MIT Sloan’s Roberto Fernandez, who previously headed up teaching on the school’s MBA core course on organizational processes – one of the program’s five required courses.  

The study, meanwhile, has a strong focus on what these findings mean for recruiters, making the suggestion that companies looking to hire high-potential MBA graduates would do well to invest time and resources in identifying and developing connections, through existing employees, they might already hold within an MBA alumni network. 

65% of MIT Sloan MBAs last year found jobs through an internship or on-campus interview

Of course, the findings are not meant to devalue summer internships or on-campus recruiting as a means through which students secure post-MBA job offers. After all, members of a school’s alumni network can use these avenues of recruiting just as much as those outside it when representing their companies. Among the most recent graduating class at NYU Stern, for example, 42% of students landed their new job following an internship, compared to 30% at MIT Sloan, while on-campus recruiting interviews were behind jobs taken up by 21% of the NYU class and 35% of the class at MIT.

This article was originally published in April 2016 . It was last updated in July 2019

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).


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