In recession, U.S. MBA students seek backup plan

Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:39pm EST
 
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By Scott Malone

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - For decades, investment banking was a well-worn path to affluence for business-school graduates. But as Wall Street teeters, many are scrambling to find alternate routes into a brutal job market.

Facing one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, some Masters of Business Administration students are lowering expectations. Aspiring investment bankers are looking elsewhere, while international students wonder if they will have better luck at home than in the United States.

As big banks including Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc cut tens of thousands of jobs, MBA students who just a few years ago would have been aggressively recruited by companies now expect to fight for the handful of positions available.

Meghan Gallery, 24, enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management in September with hopes of working on mergers and acquisitions at an investment bank. Now, she would consider a summer job at a start-up company, ideally in corporate finance.

"I've literally had people say, 'Hopefully, when you get out it will be different. But if not, there will still be a lot of bodies floating around who have been in finance for five to 10 years more than you'," she said.

Shrinkant Dave, 26, an MBA candidate at Boston University who is originally from India, made a similar decision, accepting a corporate finance job at a retail chain rather than holding out for investment banking.

"I knew there were not enough jobs to go around, so I had to improvise," Dave said. "It's slightly disappointing, but not too bad. It's still in line with my goals."

MBA students face a radically changed job market.   Continued...

 
<p>The exterior of the world headquarters for Morgan Stanley &amp; Co. Incorporated is seen in New York, in this May 19, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files</p>