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Staying Hopeful: MBA Grads on Job Hunting During a Recession

Staying Hopeful: MBA Grads on Job Hunting During a Recession main image

In January 2020, Abhishek Thakur, then-MBA student at Alliance Manchester Business School, was in the middle of the recruiting process with one of the Big Four consulting firms. However, after a few weeks, recruiters notified him that his application wouldn’t move forward as the company had issued a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future.

But Abhishek isn’t the only graduate whose future plans have been halted during the coronavirus pandemic.

An ongoing report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) revealed that, as of May 18 2020, 25 percent of employers have instituted a hiring freeze, while 37 percent are “uncertain” they’ll maintain a standard recruiting schedule in the upcoming months. In the UK, the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), found that 68 percent of firms have canceled all work experience and taster opportunities.

This has caused uncertainty in student communities worldwide: just in the UK, 40 percent of students fear they won’t be able to get a job after graduation.

“I wanted to go into consulting, but most consulting companies have stopped hiring right now,” said Abhishek. “Opportunities [at the moment] are not in line with what I wanted earlier.”

Abhishek, being an international student on a Visa scheme, found himself in a tricky situation. He says he “has to find work” before his Visa expires in August or he’ll be forced to leave the UK.

Nevertheless, he isn’t letting himself get discouraged. After he was notified of the consulting hiring freeze, he graduated from Alliance and began upgrading his skills by undertaking Project Management certifications and learning Structured Query Language (SQL).

He said: “It’s good to diversify your skillset, especially now that [recruitment] options are very few. It’s good to keep your mind open.”

Steven Sevilla Tapia, MBA graduate from Alliance, agrees with Abhishek.

He says that doing an MBA and handling a wide range of different high-pressure projects gave him the knowledge and resilience necessary to stay hopeful and proactive during the employment crisis.

He said: “Every one of us […] wants to do the triple gem and change their country, their industry and even their role. But everything can change from one minute to the other. The rules of the game have changed, the reality is different.”

Steven, who secured a job offer with a July 2020 start, says he noticed a significant decrease in job adverts both in Europe and in the US. He says it’s clear that companies have to be “conservative” at the moment to preserve a healthy cashflow, but he also believes that “many more” opportunities will arise as employers embrace the digitalization of work and recruitment – something he already experienced during his MBA.

In fact, after Alliance decided to suspend in-person classes and assignments on March 17 2020, both Steven and Abhishek had to move their projects online, including presentations with business clients.

Abhishek said: “In the last month, when the pandemic struck, we transitioned to online. We were a little bit used to it [interacting online] already on Skype and Microsoft Teams, so the transition was good. It also gave us a good foundation [to continue working online].”

While Steven is currently waiting to start his new job, Abhishek says he has “changed his strategy” successfully. After looking for jobs in other sectors, he secured interviews with two companies – one in the tech industry, the other in the energy sector.

He said: “It’s about having a diversified strategy. There are still jobs in the market, so now it’s just about staying positive and keeping a good mindset that you can get a job.

“You need to demonstrate that you’re really focused. So especially during this time, one thing you can do is learn something new. And if you have a particular goal set in mind, work towards that, build your skillset, talk to industry professionals and start networking. These are just a few of the things you can do to make sure you’re always available in the market and ready to jump on.”

Steven agrees.

He said: “This is the perfect moment for us to keep learning and keep engaging, to ensure that we have open doors now but more in the future.”

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Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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