Stanford’s 2020 Employment Report Is Good News For MBA Graduates |

Stanford’s 2020 Employment Report Is Good News For MBA Graduates

By Niamh O

Updated January 21, 2021 Updated January 21, 2021

Stanford Graduate Business School’s MBA Class of 2020 embarked on their MBA studies in September 2018 – when the economy was healthy, and the world wasn’t so uncertain.

Two years later, they’ve graduated at the height of a global pandemic, and it’d be fair to assume that employability rates might have suffered, but the Stanford MBA 2020 Employment Report reflects strong results. The job market for MBA graduates might not be so bleak after all.

Paul Oyer, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Stanford GSB, says the most notable impact of the pandemic for graduates’ career journeys was related to timing.

GSB students usually interview later in the academic year to fall in line with the recruitment cycle of small and high-growth companies. Oyer said: “For some students still in the search process, the pandemic put a temporary pause on their efforts, but in the end, their perseverance and patience paid off.”

By 90 days after graduation, 91 percent of students reported at least one full-time job offer, a slight dip from 94 percent in 2019 – with 85 percent of students accepting those offers, down slightly from 88 percent.

However, average and median salaries hit a new high for the sixth consecutive year, peaking at US$159,544 and US$156,000, an increase of US$7,041 and US$6,000 respectively.

Summer opportunities

Jonathan Levin, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean, Stanford Graduate School of Business says if there was one constant this year, it was change.

He said: “In times like these, you want to have a network of supporters who can be a safeguard against potential negative shocks. Thanks to our generous and close-knit community of alumni who provided that wonderful safety net, we sourced around 200 summer opportunities and some 100 full-time positions as well.”

Stanford GSB and alumni worked together to create new job opportunities through the Botha-Chan Summer 2020 Innovation Fellowship, which provided entrepreneurial options for students such as Caroline Ling, whose summer internship in sustainable apparel was among the few suddenly canceled.

Caroline said: “It was like the ladder was suddenly pulled away from the wall, and I had to climb with my bare hands.

“The whole world was being reshaped, and there was no business as usual, but that forced me to let go of the structured path I’d imposed on myself and made me realize I was set free and could explore.”

Through the Botha-Chan program, Ling began an independent study project in St. Louis focused on waste management and the circular economy. She has since rallied a team of like-minded waste enthusiasts, and the team is running a pilot study on one of their concepts — a reinvention of the milkman model that delivers local beverages to your doorstep in reusable containers.

A relentless effort

2020 saw months of ever-shifting safety rules, hiring freezes, and more, to which GSB demonstrated resilience, patience and resourcefulness in finding positions where they could make a difference says Jamie Schein of the Career Management Center.

He said: “There was a rise in interest in health and wellness in light of the pandemic crisis [with the Class of 2020]; students either pivoted away from impacted fields like tourism and retail or found a tech route to those sectors; and because of the sudden shift to remote work, we saw the continued spread of tech into all sectors of commerce.”

Entrepreneurship on the rise

Although 2020 was a tough year for business, it didn’t stop Stanford GSB grads forging their path – with 18 percent of grads launching their own ventures, a three percent increase from 2019, and equal to the previous all-time high rate of entrepreneurship among the Class of 2013. 

Aaron Kappe was one such entrepreneur who joined forces with three other Stanford grads in starting Prairie Health, a subscription tele-psychiatry service that uses genetic testing and deep learning to provide customized medication to those suffering anxiety and depression.

He said: “There are a lot of new opportunities. The world is changing. Historically, some of the most successful companies have been founded after economic crises. There’s some comfort in knowing that you have a bit of a safety net, that you can always work in big tech as a Stanford GSB grad. But you can’t always begin a startup at a time that may be better suited for starting a company than any time in history.”

Schein said: “Our graduates remained focused and determined, finding careers that allowed them to make a difference in the world around them, despite the turmoil in the economy and global health crisis.

“The strong outcomes in this employment report are a testament to their value in the marketplace.”

This article was originally published in January 2021 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  


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