Graduating MBA? Tough luck

April 27, 2009

GraduatesThe bear market’s message to MBA graduates – tough luck.

MBAs who graduate during a bear market may never get the chance to start a Wall Street career, which means they would earn significantly less over their lifetime than those who graduated when things were rosy around them, a Stanford business school study shows.

The proportion of graduating MBAs who manage to get hired into lucrative investment banking positions shrinks or expands depending on how well the stock market is performing in a given year, according to the study by Paul Oyer, an associate professor of economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The study is based on the long-term career choices and salaries of the school’s graduates over 35 years.

More than a quarter of Stanford MBAs who graduated two years before the stock market crash of 1987 became investment bankers, but only 17 percent graduates two years after the crash took that career path. And investment bankers were estimated to make a lot more over their lifetimes than those who went on a different path.

(Photo: Graduating student Abel Charron displays a “Hire me” sign before the 2007 USC School of Cinematic Arts commencement at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, in this May 11, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files)

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