Understanding MBA Employment Reports

Kellogg released its 2015 employment report on Monday. Pretty glowing report as usual but that’s not what was interesting. What I found interesting was how this report got me thinking about a similar report that I read two years ago, and the conclusions I arrived at from reading the report which were mostly wrong.

I decided to take three examples from Kellogg’s current report to clarify what I mean by wrong conclusions:

1. Median Salary: The median salary for the full time class of 2015 was $123,000.

Conclusion: I’m a smart and pretty capable guy. In my worst case scenario, I should be able to hit that median. Therefore, I can use that number as a good benchmark for projecting my post MBA earnings.

Reality: The very definition of a median suggests that about 50% of the class earned less than $123,000. Furthermore, breaking this number apart by industry will reveal very wide variations in salary, with consulting and investment banking coming out at the top end of the range . If you’re not looking to get into any of these two industries, you may want to adjust your projections accordingly.

2. Industries by percentage: 35% of the full time class of 2015 went into the consulting industry.

Conclusion: If Kellogg has 35% of the class going into consulting, and Darden has 15% (made up number), and I want to go into consulting, I should go to Kellogg.

Reality: A significant number of Kellogg students who came from consulting – and are returning to consulting after graduation – make up a big part of that 35%. Also, while consulting firms usually have ‘target’ schools, they don’t come to schools seeking a specific quota. They interview as many people as they can find, and pick who they want. Therefore, if you go to pretty much any top business school, and do your homework, you will probably be able to interview with the top consulting firms. To be fair, the quality of consulting interview prep does vary across schools, but for the most part, getting that job is more about you, and less about your school’s ranking.

3. School Facilitated Offers: 80% of offers were school facilitated.

Conclusion: Once I get into Kellogg, all the recruiters at these big companies are going to beat a path to my door.

Reality: Recruiters do beat a path to your door in the first quarter when you attend a top business school like Kellogg, and it is such a flattering experience! In the second quarter though, when recruiting starts, some of these same firms that seemed to want you at all costs may drop you like a hot potato. Be prepared.

Even though I misinterpreted a decent amount of stats, I still ended up attending a school that I loved and would gladly attend again given the chance. I don’t know if others were as lucky, but my hope is that aspiring business school students take the time to actually understand the data they use to inform the process of picking their dream school.

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