More Paid MBA Internships Anticipated for 2012, Though MBA Salary Levels for Most Will Remain Flat

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This year could be better for MBAs than last year in terms of hiring opportunities, a new survey finds.

Twenty-two percent of employers responding to the latest Graduate Management Admission Council survey are planning to increase the number of paid MBA interns they hire this year as opposed to last. The new global study adds that another 39 percent—nearly three quarters of whom were U.S.-based—plan to offer paid MBA internships at the same rate as last year.

Salaries Stay Flat for Most

Hiring opportunities may be going up, but what about salaries? For most, not so much. Some 65 percent of companies plan to keep starting salaries for MBAs at the same level as those offered in 2011, while a third (32 percent) expect to increase their annual base salary of new MBA hires compared with 2011, the study reveals.

GMAC’s annual survey was conducted from November 2 to November 16, 2011. It is designed to provide graduate business students and schools themselves with an advance look at the 2012 job market and to offer participating employers a look at anticipated hiring practices.

GMAC received a total of 229 responses from employers at 216 companies. Seventy-four percent of those firms are located in the United States, 10 percent are in the European Union and 7 percent are Asia-Pacific based.

Among the respondents were The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, Citigroup, TD Bank Financial Group, HSBC, Bain & Co., MetLife and Deloitte.

Improved Employment Picture

Findings were optimistic with regard to MBAs and other anticipated hiring patterns for graduate students this year. The survey states that “Graduate business school students earning their degrees in 2012 are likely to face an improved employment picture,” given all of the following findings:

  • Seventy-four percent of employers plan to hire MBA candidates, up from 58 percent of companies that hired these graduates in 2011.
  • More companies (59 percent) plan to hire graduates with a specialized business master’s in 2012; a notable increase from the 38 percent that did so this year.
  • Master in Management (MiM) candidates will find that 51 percent of hiring companies plan to seek them out in 2012, an increase over the 36 percent hired in 2011.
  • The vast majority of employers surveyed will offer paid MBA internships (69 percent) this year, and, as mentioned above:
  • Most companies offering paid internships plan to have the same number or more opportunities available in 2012 than they did in the past.

Among the survey's conclusions: “In the 2012 job market, more companies plan to increase hiring" and about a third say they plan to increase salaries for new hires. The climate is competitive, and in addition to their educational background, employers want a candidate with experience, either from internships or pre/post-degree work.

Similar to last year, this year’s respondents report that their companies’ top organizational goals for 2012 are to continue improving performance and productivity, expand their customer base and launch new products, while at the same time reducing costs and overcoming economic challenges.

Seven out of 10 (71 percent) companies reported that improving performance and productivity is a primary organizational goal for 2012. More than half of participating companies also aim to reduce costs (59 percent) and expand their customer base (57 percent).