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Tech Companies that thrived during the pandemic hiring MBAs in record numbers

Coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard and consequently affected their hiring. According to a survey of nearly 100 business schools by industry group MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance it has been a lackluster recruiting season at business schools as nearly half reported an overall decline in opportunities for students.

According to an article by Patrick Thomas in the Wall Street Journal, sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, such as retail and energy, have pulled back their MBA recruiting.

Industries hit by the Covid Pandemic

That is especially the case for companies in the hospitality industry, which 61% of business schools said have cut back job opportunities.

Nearly half the schools also reported a decline in recruiting from consulting firms traditionally some of the biggest hirers of MBA graduates every year. Several of those firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Bain & Co., said last year that they planned to make fewer hires among second-year MBA candidates, beyond those who interned in the summer.

Tech companies come to the rescue

However, there’s one industry that is helping offset hiring pullbacks by industries hit harder by the Covid-19 economy. You guessed it right, we’re talking about the Tech industry. Openings for tech positions rose at 57% of full-time Masters of Business Administration programs this past fall.

According to Megan Hendricks, executive director of the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, some of the biggest recruiters have been tech companies whose business have boomed during the coronavirus crisis, including Amazon, Zoom, and Netflix Inc.

Amazon plans to recruit more than 1,000 MBA students for full-time jobs and internships this year, a company spokeswoman said, while Zoom said it intends to hire more MBA graduates as part of a new, global emerging-talent program. 

How have tech companies performed during the pandemic?

The tech industry’s titans were already huge before Covid-19, the subject of soaring valuations and snowballing antitrust investigations. The pandemic has only made them bigger. A lot bigger.

How Big Tech Got Even Bigger - WSJ

International student’s experience

Akintayo Abiodun, a 38-year-old Nigerian in the second year of his MBA at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, had originally planned to pursue a career in the oil-and-gas industry. But he said he reconsidered after discovering many companies outside the tech industry weren’t sponsoring international students this year.

PHOTO: AKINTAYO ABIODUN

After a summer internship with a regional bank didn’t lead to a job offer, Mr. Abiodun accepted a role with Amazon’s finance leadership-development program in Seattle once he graduates this spring.

“Being international, your options are already restricted,” he said, adding that finding a job “would have been more difficult without Amazon.”

What do business schools say?

Business school graduates have increasingly gravitated to careers in technology in recent years, often starting and moving up in product-management roles that combine elements of marketing, design, and problem solving. Business schools, in turn, have responded by fashioning more graduate degrees with training in tech skills such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice’s business school, said some of its MBA graduates typically used to go to major energy companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. Now, though, more of its students take jobs in tech than in energy, he said.

This year, he added, will be the first he can remember in which the school won’t send any MBAs to Exxon.

At SMU’s Cox School of Business in Dallas, Senior Assistant Dean Jason Rife said a similar trend is underway.

In 2018, the top three industries recruiting its graduates were financial services, consulting and real estate, and about 5% of its graduates went into tech, he said.

That is changing as more tech companies move to Texas, including Oracle Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprises Co., or expand there, such as Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. Last year, 17% of Cox students accepted roles with tech companies.

This year, Mr. Rife added, employers in tech, venture capital, private equity and green energy have continued their hiring sprees as others, such as airlines, have pulled back internships and job offers.

“Flexibility is the name of the game,” he said of business students’ willingness to shift their career sights from one industry to another.

First year MBAs share their experience

Julie Pollok, a 25-year-old first-year MBA student at SMU, said she came into the program looking for a role in brand management at a consumer packaged goods company but is now looking at marketing jobs in tech. She plans on interning with Samsung Electronics Co. this coming summer.

“The recruiting in tech was just more optimistic,” she said.

PHOTO: KEVIN GADDIS JR. 

Some companies that cut back MBA recruiting in fields such as hospitality or consulting could still pick up their hiring later this spring as the U.S. economy improves said John Helmers, associate director of graduate career management at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance president.

A fall survey of corporate recruiters from the Graduate Management Admission Council found that most companies expect MBA hiring to return close to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

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