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Olin graduates fare well despite tough economy

| Contributing Reporter

Despite the economic downturn, 91 percent of 2009 Washington University business school graduates who sought employment received at least one job offer.

With a weak financial market, Olin Business School graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree, like their peers at other institutions, found it more difficult to receive a job offer this year. In the spring of 2009, however, as the economy began to recover, many employers realized they needed more interns.

“We got a little bit of a bump [as] we began to find a lot of just-in-time hiring,” said Mark Brostoff, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center at Olin.

The reason why BSBA jobs have been relatively stable is that companies tend to cut middleman jobs during economic challenges, Brostoff said. Companies desire to maintain “a talent pipeline,” which creates a continued need for entry-level jobs.

Brostoff said the figure has not changed from 2008.

The biggest difference for students this year was not that they were unable to get a job, but rather that they had only one job offer as compared to three or four in past years.

Although job-offer figures remained relatively stable, the median starting salary for the MBA graduating class of 2009 remained flat this year at $90,000, while that of the BSBA decreased from $56,500 to around $55,000.

Brostoff explained the reason behind this dip is that one of the highest-paying undergraduate jobs—investment banking—took the greatest hit, which in turn dragged down the median salary figure. In addition, many students decided to go into the non-profit sector, while others joined the military.

According to Brostoff, 2009 was “a very, very difficult year.”

“There were complete industries that really skidded to a halt, and only began to hire just one or two positions,” he said. “If the economy stays at where it is today, even if it stays at a very flat level of growth, I think the number of positions and opportunities for our graduating BSBA students next year will be very similar to that of this year.”

“Companies’ requirements haven’t changed, but they’re looking for that drive, energy, commitment and proven intellectual rigor,” Brostoff added. “The companies are looking for students who are going to commit in the investment that the company is making.”

Companies have also altered their methods of hiring. Contrary to conventional methods, recruiters are shying away from on-campus hiring to reduce travel costs. They are depending more on career centers and telephone interviews, Brostoff said. Students are now more active in their searches, rather than the other way around.

Junior Adrian Githuku, a marketing and international business double major who interned with Proctor and Gamble, praised the Weston Career Center for helping with her internship search.
“I feel like the job market right now is tough. A lot of companies are hiring a lot less people,” Githuku said. “At the same time, I think the Weston Career Center does a really good job of making sure we know how to differentiate ourselves.”

Brostoff said he believes positive figures this year reflect the business school’s efforts to create and maintain relationships with employers in both good and bad markets.

The Olin Business School and its Weston Career Center made efforts this past summer to create more opportunities for their students. Brostoff and his team traveled to Shanghai and Hong Kong to meet with potential recruiters. They returned with 15 companies who were very interested in the talent pool at Olin.

In addition, the Weston Career Center recently published a new comprehensive Career Guide with nearly 50 pages of tips on résumés, business etiquette, interviews, the follow-up process and receiving and negotiating job offers.