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Stanford GSB Employment Report: MBA Class of 2020, Achievement Through Creativity

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The Stanford Graduate School of Business 2020 MBA employment report shows few signs of economic disruption or pandemic uncertainty. This year’s graduates reported record salary numbers and fostered the highest level of entrepreneurship since 2013. GSB’s communities of students, alumni, and faculty worked to ensure the success of the Class of 2020 by focusing on their goals and being creative in reaching them.

The timing of offers and acceptances was slightly off from last year: 91 percent of students received a job offer within three months after graduation, and in that timeframe 85 percent accepted offers. “The big surprise was there was no surprise. Our outcomes were strong, and there wasn’t that much change,” says Jamie Schein, Assistant Dean and Director of the Stanford GSB Career Management Center. “We saw things that you might expect in some industries like tourism and entertainment, but students got creative, getting into their chosen industry through the tech angle, for example. What we saw is the pandemic pushing everything out. We’re not seeing offers and accepts dropping, we’re seeing that they’re just coming in later.”

As COVID-19 spread in the spring of 2020, Stanford GSB held an alumni panel featuring members of the Classes of 2008 and 2009 who had graduated at the onset of another crisis, the Great Recession. The message shared with students at the panel was that entering the business world in a time of upheaval would impact them in the short term, but that it was both possible and beneficial to take a more circuitous route to their goals.

“There were absolutely moments when I was not sure I had the right perspective,” says 2020 MBA grad Allegra Tepper. Tepper took a calculated risk in choosing to keep her targeted focus on the job she wanted through the faltering economy, marketing her passion for storytelling as a valuable asset. She landed her desired role as a product manager at Apple. “I do not take the investment that I and my classmates made in the last two years very lightly. We put time, resources, and energy into this experience that I felt changed who I was professionally. I felt like I owed it to myself every single day of the Stanford experience to see that through, to do everything I could to hit the goals I had set over the course of my time at Stanford.”

Stanford GSB Employment Report:
Top MBA Industry Placement

Finance 34%
Technology 28%
Consulting 15%
Healthcare 4%
Consumer Products 4%

Stanford GSB Employment Report:
MBA Regional Placement

West 60%
Northeast 20%
Southwest 5%
South 3%
Midwest 2%
Mid-Atlantic 1%

Stanford GSB Employment Report: Industry Placement

The Stanford GSB employment report reveals that finance took the top spot for GSB MBAs in 2020, with 34 percent of the class joining the industry. Twenty-eight percent took jobs in the technology sector and 15 percent went into consulting. Healthcare and consumer products rounded out the top five industries, with each seeing 4 percent of students find jobs in those sectors.

Stanford GSB Employment Report: Regional Placement and Salary 

Eighty-nine percent of graduates stayed in North America to begin their post-MBA careers. Sixty percent remained in the West, while 20 percent went to the Northeast, where the highest reported median salary came in at $170,000. Four percent moved to the Southwest and 3 percent to the South, wherein both regions the reported median salary is $165,000. Two percent went to the Midwest, and just one percent went to the Mid-Atlantic. 

2020 is the sixth consecutive record-setting year for Stanford GSB MBA salaries. The reported median salary hit $156,000, and the mean salary came to $159,544. Median signing bonuses also increased from $25,000 to $26,500. 

A Community Effort

The University facilitated 51 percent of job offers. Jack Armstrong, GSB MBA Class of 2020 and Chief of Staff at Amplity Health, was fortunate to arrange his position well in advance and advocates for more students to utilize the Career Management Center (CMC), a resource to which he credits much of the year’s success. “Community is a word we use a lot at the GSB, and I would say the community rallied,” he says. “The student community rallied, people used their own networks, experience, and knowledge to help people think through, identify, and ultimately land opportunities; the alumni community did the same, and then the GSB community of the CMC, professors, faculty, and the international advisors–everybody really came through.” 

Tepper speaks fondly of the counselor she worked with at the CMC and the relationship they forged while working together. “Grace, and everyone at the CMC, is very good at both the pragmatic and the emotional pieces of the job search because really, it’s both.”

“One of the things we encourage students to do when they get to GSB is to think about their career, life goals, values, and priorities, and put together several career hypotheses they want to investigate at the GSB,” says Schein. “This year, it paid off to have multiple career hypotheses for the Class of 2020, and for the Classes of 2021 and 2022, we’re focused on safety, target, stretch: hypotheses are super important.”

GSB sent out an alumni appeal, resulting in 200 summer internships and 100 full-time opportunities being posted. While some were pre-existing opportunities that needed sharing, many were created by alumni for GSB grads. “It was really heartening to see the alumni community come together in support of our students who they recognized were graduating in a time of great uncertainty,” says Schein. The school also offers its Botha-Chan Summer 2020 Innovation Fellowship, which provided potential entrepreneurial options for students. 

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Pays Off

Despite the economic downturn, civic upheaval, restricted travel, and mostly virtual interaction required, 18 percent of students launched their own venture after graduation, a 3 percent increase over 2019, and the highest level of entrepreneurship since 2013. A third of these businesses were in technology. Twenty-one percent started up finance firms, and another 12 percent went into healthcare.

“Stanford is so rooted in that entrepreneurial spirit,” remarks Tepper. “It’s about tenacity, believing in yourself, and taking bets on yourself and the impact you want to have on the world. I spent two years building up that muscle, that confidence to focus on potential rather than setbacks. And so, when this enormous setback emerged, it was an opportunity to bet on my potential.”

Armstrong saw this same spirit in his classmates viewing disruption through a lens of opportunity, taking the time to reassess goals and direction, and take advantage of the tools and resources they had been building while at the GSB. “More things were up for discussion: location, what’s important to me, the type of role I want to take, whether it needs to be flexible, and so on. Then there was the long-term conversation around what the impact will be if I don’t get the role that I want, or if something doesn’t work out, more about the unknown. That was part of it, pausing to reflect and either double down or say, this is an amazing opportunity. While it was risky, it also felt risk-free at the same time. I think, fortunately, because of the CMC and the alumni, everybody ended up in a really amazing place.”

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.