MBA Employment Report Reveals Return to Pre-Pandemic Outcomes

Stanford GSB students and graduates find success in a strong job market, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

January 19, 2022

A student works outside at Stanford GSB. | Credit: Elena Zhukova.

Among members of the MBA class of 2021, 18% started a new venture. | Elena Zhukova.

Despite the continuing public health crisis around the world, employment numbers for the Stanford GSB MBA Class of 2021 rebounded to pre-pandemic levels across several measures, with 96% of students receiving job offers within three months of graduation.

“More than other classes, the Class of 2021 learned how to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, and to be adaptable and resilient,” said Dean Jonathan Levin. “We are thrilled to see how they are applying what they have learned, going on to incredible roles in numerous industries.”

Within three months of graduation, 91% of the Class of 2021 had accepted a job offer, up from 85% for the Class of 2020 and 88% for the Class of 2019. The mean and median starting salaries for the Class of 2021 were $161,831 and $158,400, respectively. Both mark an increase for the seventh consecutive year.

“The Class of 2021 weathered the initial shock of the global pandemic as they pursued their summer internships in 2020, demonstrating grit and resilience,” said Jamie Schein, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center (CMC). “Those students then graduated into a robust job market where they found opportunities aligned with their values and where they could make an impact. Outcomes for the class are in line with previous years, and show a return to pre-pandemic offer timing with strong salaries.”

Prepared to Pivot

Kyle McAndrews, MBA ’21, worked in investment banking and in a strategy and business operations role at Survey Monkey (now Momentive) before coming to Stanford GSB. Through his MBA, he hoped to develop the skills necessary to transition into product management to bridge the gap between software engineers and end users, and he worked with the CMC to position his resume and story to be relevant for product management roles.

But, as he began interviewing for his summer internship early in 2020, COVID-19 “threw a wrench” in his plans. Three of the smaller companies he applied to paused their internship programs in the face of the uncertainty. McAndrews then broadened his search to larger companies. Through an internship opportunity shared by a Stanford GSB alum, McAndrews secured a product management role at Snap, Inc., the Snapchat parent company.

“I was fortunate that they had a later process,” he explained. “Ultimately, the opportunity I had at Snap allowed me to learn if product management was the role I wanted after business school. It was a great summer experience.”

Still, McAndrews knew that pivoting into a full-time product management role after graduation would be challenging: The positions are notoriously hard to transition into, especially in the smaller companies that McAndrews was drawn to. Nevertheless, by thoughtfully researching and targeting companies and diligently preparing for interviews, he ultimately secured two product management offers. He joined Common Room, a community platform startup for software companies.

“I was looking for places with rapid growth opportunities and during my interviews with Common Room, I became impressed with the team, the opportunity they offered, and the market they were going after,” he said.

Focused on Impact

Neha Dalal, MBA ’21, came to Stanford GSB in part to explore how to create large-scale social impact through the private sector. She had experience in government, having worked at the White House as an economist focused on economic opportunity, and in education-related nonprofits. At Stanford, she wanted to explore alternative paths to change, including philanthropy and impact investing.

During the summer of 2020, in addition to working on the Biden presidential campaign, she explored her interests in philanthropy and impact investing through internships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Innovations for Impact, an impact investing fund founded by Stanford GSB alumni Mike Dorsey, MBA ’11 and Charles Froland, MBA ’83.

“I had the opportunity to explore three different career paths,” she said. “It was one of the silver linings of COVID. When you don’t have to go anywhere, you have more time to test out your interests.”

Upon graduation, Dalal fielded job offers in government and philanthropy. Ultimately, she accepted a position as vice president at Jasper Ridge Partners. Her work focuses on philanthropic and impact advisory services, and integrating the firm’s impact investments and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) considerations.

“The role they created for me there was just so unique relative to the other opportunities I had,” she said. “I wanted to be in a space where impact was the main mission.”

Stanford graduates pursue roles in industries around the world. The industries attracting the highest percentages of MBA Class of 2021 graduates were finance (33%), technology (29%), consulting (18%), healthcare (5%), and media and entertainment (4%).

Strategy and business operations roles, whether internal or external, were a big draw for members of the Class of 2021. 20% of graduates accepted consulting jobs while 26% went into business operations and management positions.

Support for Entrepreneurs

Other Stanford graduates sought to make their impact as entrepreneurs or in startup organizations. In part to address the downturn in the market at the start of 2020, GSB ’00 alumni Roelof Botha and Huifen Chan created the Botha-Chan Innovation Fellowship. The award made it possible for students to explore entrepreneurial ideas over the summer of 2020. The fellowship has been extended for the next three summers.

For Ted McKlveen, MBA ’21, and Bav Roy, MBA ’21, the fellowship gave them the opportunity to investigate opportunities in hydrogen storage. The pair met before the start of the fall quarter in 2019 at the Energy@Stanford & SLAC conference for incoming students. There, they learned about the promise of hydrogen and heard people talking about hydrogen production and use, but they didn’t hear anyone mention hydrogen storage.

That led them to form Verne in the spring of 2020, just as the pandemic was taking hold. With the Botha-Chan Fellowship, they could work on their idea through the summer.

“Botha-Chan provided us with the resources that we needed to solely focus on further developing the idea and testing it,” Roy said.

McKlveen agreed. “That summer was really a pivotal time for our company,” he said. “We were doing a lot on the business side as well as progressing the technology, and we wouldn’t have been able to do that without the support from Botha-Chan.”

McKlveen also received a 2021 Social Innovation Fellowship, which, in addition to a financial stipend, provides personalized entrepreneurial support for one year, including communications and leadership coaching. In addition, both McKlveen and Roy were recently named in Forbes’ 2022 30 Under 30 in Energy.

Of Class of 2021 graduates starting a new venture, about 7% did so in the energy sector as McKlveen and Roy did. Most startups were in the finance or technology sectors, with 17% and 37% of graduates launching companies in those spaces, respectively. The next biggest industry for entrepreneurs was healthcare, with about 8% of graduates pursuing ventures in that field. In total, 18% of the Class of 2021 graduates started a new venture and are pursuing it full-time post-graduation.

Summer Internships Returned

For members of the Class of 2022, internship opportunities were again available as they approached the summer of 2021. Employers and employees were comfortable with a virtual or hybrid work environment and could offer a meaningful experience for MBA interns.

That was the case for Tessa Denning, MBA ’22, who left a finance career in her native London to pursue her MBA with a goal of using investments as a catalyst for positive change in the world. Her original plan was to find a way to make impact investing a reality for “everyday people.”

“After considering different paths through the CMC, I landed on fintech as what I wanted to do because it aligned with my vision of using finance and investment as a force for good,” she said. Denning noted the ways technology was advancing rapidly and driving change in the world. It was a space that she wanted to learn more about.

Denning had internship offers from traditional finance and technology companies but chose to join the stock-trading app Robinhood in a benchmarking and strategy role, as she wanted to explore opportunities at the intersection between the two sectors. She was also drawn to the company’s commitment to making finance accessible, which to her was where a lot of innovation was happening.

Denning was at Robinhood during the firm’s initial public offering and a few months after its customers made headlines for running up the shares of companies such as GameStop.

“It was like no place I’ve ever worked before,” she said. “They had a very strong focus on being culturally relevant, and I think that came across in how they operated. It was an exciting place to be.”

Denning said the pandemic didn’t negatively impact her experience at Robinhood, in part because by then everyone was accustomed to working virtually.

“A lot of the people I worked with also joined the firm remotely, so it wasn’t like I was the odd one out,” she said. “They had nailed remote onboarding, too.”

“The pandemic has made the MBA experiences for the classes of 2021 and 2022 very different from what they imagined when they arrived at Stanford. I am thrilled that the rebounding economy has provided them with opportunities in traditional MBA roles as well as in new and disruptive organizations,” said Professor Paul Oyer, senior associate dean for academic affairs. “Our 2021 graduates are well positioned to make an impact in their post-GSB careers.”

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