MBA Candidates Spurn the Anti-Goldman Kool-Aid

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The scapegoating of Goldman Sachs among the media and general public doesn't appear to have dimmed the firm's appeal among MBA candidates at leading U.S. business schools.

A recent Bloomberg News story gives soundings from several current MBA students and career services officers at institutions including MIT, NYU, Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School. All the students voice admiration for Goldman's performance, success in wending its way through the financial crisis, and the quality of its work force. One dismissed the media campaign against the bank as "hype." Another said Goldman does "a lot of good work that doesn't get a lot of attention."

And while some of the story's sources cited investment banking's high pay, compensation figures from Harvard suggest the gap over alternative career choices isn't terribly wide - initially at least. New Harvard MBA holders who joined investment banks last year began with a median $95,000 salary plus $40,000 signing bonus. For those who joined consulting firms, the median salary was $125,000 and the median signing bonus was $20,000. Even nonprofit and government jobs paid new Harvard MBAs a median $90,000 salary.

At MIT's Sloan School of Management, 11 percent of last year's 295 MBA graduates went to work at investment banks - including five hired by Goldman Sachs.

A Goldman recruiting officer told Bloomberg that the number of MBA students asking about or applying to join the bank is the same as last year, notwithstanding wave after wave of negative publicity. And Universum Group's widely quoted annual survey of MBA candidates' employer preferences shows Goldman ranked fourth among all employers a year ago, after placing third for the previous five years. (The three top places went to Google, McKinsey and Bain.)

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