What Does the Future Hold for MBA Candidates?: Darden Business School Q&A | TopMBA.com

What Does the Future Hold for MBA Candidates?: Darden Business School Q&A

By Niamh O

Updated October 16, 2020 Updated October 16, 2020



After a difficult year, the MBA job market is finally bouncing back.


But what does the future hold for MBA candidates and business schools?


TopMBA spoke with Jeff McNish, Assistant Dean of the Career Development Center at The University of Virginia Darden School of Business to find out more.


How has the job market changed this year from last year?

We saw a slight retraction in full-time hiring (for the Class of 2021, this fall 2020) as many companies secured talent out of the summer 2020 internship pool. 


We have seen companies scale back and even cancel interviews this fall, noting that they achieved their hiring targets from internship conversions.  And we've seen companies come back to our on-grounds recruiting with full schedules and enthusiasm to hire students who will graduate next May. 


As of now, internship interview schedules (for summer 2021) look healthy, and we see no change in interest. 


What is the recruitment process like at Darden? Would you say it's difficult to earn a place on the MBA program?

Our Career Center runs a full on-grounds recruiting process with about 130 corporate partners where we collaborate on networking opportunities, interview sessions, and other recruiting events.


We are particularly strong in the financial services, general management, tech, and consulting areas.  We also have a dedicated Senior Director who supports a job search process that is not related to on-grounds.  This team member coordinates experiences for those students who seek a specialized role or a role that does not show up in our on-grounds operations. 


Darden is an incredible place to obtain an MBA degree. The strong community, the world-class teaching, and of course, a best-in-class career center all combine to make us one of the best. And, I don't want to forget to mention, Charlottesville is a beautiful city with a vibrant college town feel.

Our weather is moderate, and there is a lot to do outdoors. Right now, the fall season, there's hiking in the mountains and apple picking in our orchards under the brightest blue sky! 


What do you look for in Darden candidates?

Darden seeks intellectually curious candidates who have strong leadership skills.


We seek future leaders who seek to make a difference around the world. And, equally importantly, we seek leaders who want to make a difference in our community!      


What special resources does Darden have for business school students when it comes to careers? How do you prepare them for life after graduation?

Our career center and our student career clubs partner together to prepare our students for the MBA summer internship, the post-MBA job and a life-long career. 


We primarily do this through one-on-one coaching, workshops and company events. We also count on our 17,000 alumni (across 90 countries) to assist with networking, interviewing and hiring!


Our alumni are always willing to jump in and help, whether they support a student explore a career path or mock interview in advance of an upcoming interview.  Darden alumni, in my opinion, are the most loyal, and they are a critical part of our career preparation.   


How successful are Darden MBA graduates at landing a job after graduation? What is the success rate? And what are some of the notable companies?

Our students are very successful in the job search. We see 91 percent of our students reporting that they have accepted a post-MBA job within three months of graduation. 


Why should students choose to study an MBA?

The MBA degree offers flexibility; it is recognized and appreciated in every sector and builds both hard (or technical) and soft skills.


Knowing how to analyze a large data set and then having the ability to sell an idea from that data analysis – as one example – leverages both types of skills. Employers tell me they seek candidates who have a nice balance of both. 


What are the benefits of an MBA?

Two benefits of the MBA include mastering business knowledge and building a network.


The MBA allows you to develop and expand on a professional network. Students can create connections throughout the Darden experience – studying, collaborating, celebrating, or debating – and these relationships, in many cases, last for a lifetime.


Why should students choose to study an MBA at Darden?

Simple – we have the world's best education experience. We have a robust and inclusive community that values diverse backgrounds! Our teaching, our faculty, and our community are second to none. 


What do you think the future holds for the MBA?

I think the MBA is timeless. Curriculum and business research advance, and organizations seek to hire talent with the latest knowledge.


We may see more online and experiential learning in the MBA. I predict more analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence in graduate management education. I also see a need for skill-building in crisis management and operational/organizational disruption.


A classic degree with modern subjects and a delivery that meets the student's needs – that's what I see. 


How confident are you in the value of the MBA in the current job market? Do you expect to see more positive trends in the upcoming months?


I'm very confident in the value of the MBA.


The Darden MBA offers a general management education that allows for flexibility. This flexibility gives our alumni the ability to pivot when they want to – to obtain a new role and expand skills, or when they have to – when the job market forces a change.


I am very optimistic about the future job market. There's great enthusiasm for Darden MBA!

This article was originally published in October 2020 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), 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.