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What Does the Future Hold for MBA Candidates?: Michigan Ross School of Business Q&A

michigan ross school of business faculty interview by MichiganRoss via Wikimedia Commons

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

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

We’ve caught up with Heather Byrne, managing director of the Career Development Office at the Michigan Ross School of Business, to find out.

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

MBAs from top-tier business schools continue to be in demand. The message we are giving to students is to be patient and stay connected.

As we talk with companies, we recognize this is an ever-changing situation. If you put yourself in a company's position, and you look back at the last eight months and how everything in the world has changed, you can see how they might wait a bit longer to do their hiring this year vs. prior years. That said, we have seen that internship hiring is staying steady with previous years.

During the financial crisis, some firms realized they were left with not enough talent when the market improved, so we are seeing firms be cautious, but also being ready to pivot when they need to. We are encouraging students to keep networking, so they will be ready for the rebound and be able to quickly take advantage of existing relationships.

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

We have a holistic review process, and we encourage everyone to apply who is interested. 

Our process is designed to assess for the fit for our program and culture. We are looking for a wide variety of students with different backgrounds who will contribute to the student experience.

Ross’s Admissions Office said: “In updating our admissions process each year, the Admissions Committee thinks very critically about: (1) what we need to know about an applicant to evaluate whether they will be successful in our program; and (2) whether the questions and materials we ask for give us the information and insights we need. A candidate’s potential for “success in our program” is evaluated in three areas: ability to handle the coursework, ability to be a positive and contributing member of our community, and ability to get a good job (through a combination of prior experience, coursework and interpersonal skills).

“Our philosophy in developing our questions and requirements is to give applicants a platform to reflect on and surface their unique experiences, thought processes and goals while making the application process as applicant and recommender-friendly as possible. That’s the thinking behind requiring only two short answer essays (100 words each) plus a short career goals essay, as well as requiring only one recommendation letter.

"We look forward to learning about candidates’ backgrounds and experiences and developing a relationship with them over the course of the admissions process. By the time students start their MBA at Ross, many of them feel like students we’ve known for a long time.”

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

At Ross, we focus on using an individualized approach to ensure we meet each student’s needs. We start preparing students as soon as they are admitted with an online career prep course and a launch appointment with one of our coaches before school starts. In addition to individualized coaching and workshops, we also provide weekly small group meetings for every MBA1 student to help guide them through the recruiting process. These are called Functional Accountability Career Teams, or FACT. Given the process for recruiting may have important nuances by function, the FACT groups are a great way to receive tailored recruiting support with fellow classmates.

Through our AlumniAdvantage program, Ross also provides free career support for life. We offer dedicated alumni coaching services and access to tuition-free executive education courses to ensure our graduate’s personal and professional development continue and that they are supported for life.

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

Ross has proven success with its graduates landing a job after graduation. It can vary slightly year-to-year, but last year 96 percent of our graduates landed jobs within three months.

Why should students choose to study an MBA?

There are many important reasons why students should choose an MBA. A high-quality MBA program prepares future business leaders to succeed by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in an increasingly complex world of work.

In addition, pursuing an MBA is a great way to make a career change, whether that’s changing function and industry or seeking a higher-level role. Ninety-five percent of Ross students are career switchers, and they all have great success making that transition. We teach students how to articulate their transferable skills so that recruiters see their potential.

From a recruiting standpoint, another great reason to get an MBA is to gain leadership skills. Recruiters want to know you can lead a team and work well with people from different backgrounds.

Why should students choose to study an MBA at Ross?

An MBA from Ross enables students to be highly desirable candidates by providing them with the opportunity to get hands-on, real-world experience. 95 percent of Ross students are career-switchers, and we offer students the largest action-based learning portfolio to prepare for the pivot they want to make.

Recruiters tell us our students immediately contribute on the job and can easily work up and down an organization with a diverse group of people. We believe our action-based learning approach best prepares students to have that immediate impact in their future careers.

Recent GMAC figures show that MBA recruitment and salaries might boost again in 2021. 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?

The value of an MBA is here to stay. In fact, I might argue that in turbulent times like now, the value of an MBA may be even higher. Companies are looking for agile and adaptable employees who can solve problems and manage ambiguity. A top-tier MBA curriculum, especially our program at Ross where students learn by doing, is the best foundation for being ready to lead in challenging situations. The lifetime ROI from an MBA continues to be exponentially positive, particularly as we see salaries and bonuses outpace inflation.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

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.  

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