In an economy with nearly 9 percent unemployment, the outlook for fulltime Master’s of Business Administration students at the Carlson School of Management is encouraging — most have job offers directly after graduation.
Camila Hallemeier, landed a job as an associate marketing manager at General Mills as soon as classes ended this spring.
“It’s a great fit,” Hallemeier said.
While unemployment is high, the market in mid-management positions for MBA grads has remained fairly stable, said Michelle Chevalier, the director of the Graduate Business Career Center, which oversees job placement for MBA candidates along with other Master’s programs. Still, people may be surprised by the news, she said.
“All they hear is negative economic news and here we have 97 percent placement and people making in the mid-90’s in term of salary with $20,000 signing bonuses right out of school,” Chevalier said. “People are always surprised.”
Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Carlson School No. 1 in job placement for 2011 full-time MBA graduates, with nearly 97 percent landing a full-time job within 90 days of graduation. That’s up from 91 percent in 2010.
The median starting salary jumped up by more than $5,000 from last year, to $95,507. Students earned an average starting bonus of $20,000.
Hallemeier said many of the career coaching programs at Carlson School helped her gain job offers, even while still in school.
During orientation, full-time MBA students go through a mandatory career leadership academy program –– a weeklong boot camp to prepare them for finding an internship or job, Chevalier said.
“It’s pretty intensive and it’s like that intentionally because it is a lot to manage while you’re in school and juggling other obligations,” Chevalier said. “It’s my mission to make sure our students are the best they can be.”
Hallemeier said the networking events the school hosts helped her gain contacts within many of the Twin Cities’ major corporations, including Target, 3M and especially General Mills.
“Even before I interviewed, I felt like I had an advantage,” Hallemeier said.
Career coaches within Carlson School will review résumés or set up mock-interviews for students, which current MBA student Tom Paluta said was particularly helpful.
He said he didn’t think he’d be nearly as successful as he is if he hadn’t taken advantage of programs within Carlson.
Of the 71 people in Paluta’s class, the majority have used the career center, he said.
“They’re really helpful,” Paluta said. “But to a certain extent, it’s on the student to come in and get what they need.”
Experience with the Enterprise Program at the school is also a major selling point in many interviews with students from the University, said Sarah Beaty, the director of university recruiting at General Mills. General Mills was the top employer for 2011 MBA graduates.
The Enterprise Program at Carlson School allows students to work with businesses or nonprofits in the community in areas like branding, consulting, funds management and venture capital projects.
Paluta works in the funds enterprise section of the school’s Enterprise Program, where he helps manage nearly $19 million given by local companies like Piper-Jaffey and Thrivent, and invests it in stocks and small companies.
Paluta said it sets him apart in interviews. He will graduate in May, and already has a position at Dish Network set up after graduation.
Finding a great fit
Carlson considers its relationships with major corporations a vital asset in its mission to help land job offers for its graduates, Chevalier said.
“I think it’s the two parts of our organization working in tandem that help lead to the success of our students,” Chevalier said.
Employees work to develop relationships with corporations in the area, such as Target, Cargill and Medtronic, along with national companies.
Beaty said employees from General Mills come to Carlson School once or twice a week in the fall semester to interact with students.
“We work early and often with Carlson MBA graduates,” Beaty said. “Our goal is to help them understand the different positions within our company — what could be a great fit for them.”
Hallemeier interned at Kraft Foods over the summer after the career center helped her choose between four offers.
She said that experience really helped set her apart from other candidates for the General Mills position.
Beaty said internships usually mirror the work that newly hired MBA graduates would be doing. Many interns at General Mills are offered jobs at the end of their internship.
General Mills hires about 60 MBA graduates nationwide each year, in different positions across the company.
Paluta said the work he did at Ecolab, a sanitary supply company, over the summer break rounded out his résumé.
“I was able to do work that would translate into almost any company.”