MBA Recruitment Now Happens Earlier in the School Year, Sometimes Even Before Classes Start

At many MBA programs, the notorious recruiting process for summer internships now begins before the school year does. The trend for corporate networking events has been skewing earlier and earlier in the academic year, to the point where first-year MBA students arrive on campus with their summer internship plans in place.

Business schools have responded in kind, pushing forward the dates they allow companies to host such events as corporate presentations, cocktail receptions and other recruiting opportunities on campus. MBA programs have typically restricted on campus early recruiting so as not to overwhelm new students, but more and more schools are amending that policy to keep up with recruiter demand. Though the trend speaks to the demand for MBAs, school administrators worry that students with unclear career goals will take the first offer, rather than the right offer.

“We worry that students are out there and don’t know what they’re doing yet,” Regina Regazzi, executive director of corporate relations at the University of California, Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management told the Wall Street Journal. According to Ms. Regazzi, her office is still working with recent graduates over the summer and simply does not have the time to prepare new students for corporate introductions.

One of the few holdouts, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business prohibits on campus recruiting before six weeks of the school year have passed in the interest of allowing first-year students to concentrate on academics and narrow their professional paths without external pressure from recruiters. Unfortunately, this causes the recruitment process to bottleneck.

“We typically start engaging students proactively as soon as the schools allow us,” saidKeith Bevans, a partner and head of Bain & Co.’s Global Consultant Recruiting, adding that it takes time to build relationships with candidates. Oftentimes relationships are begun at conventions and events held over the summer geared toward students with clear career goals. One of the biggest opportunities for early recruiting is a June event held by the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, in which 400 students meet in New Orleans to network with future classmates and interview with about 65 companies, including Kraft Foods Group Inc. Despite schools’ restrictions on early recruiting, many companies cultivate relationships beyond these events through “coffee chats,” as opposed to actual interviews.

“I wish we could ask the companies not to engage with our students as early,” said Wendy Tsung, associate dean of MBA career services at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “But companies are either going to go around us or they’re going to work with us. We’d much rather they work with us.”


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