M.B.A. Grads to Dot.coms: No Thanks

June 1, 2003

New M.B.A. recipients from some of the nation's top business schools, including Duke's, will turn their backs on dot-coms and Internet companies after graduation in favor of "career advancement" and personal fulfillment at established companies, according to a nationwide survey of more than 800 students by Duke's Fuqua School of Business.

The results of this year's survey, "The Fuqua Report," conducted periodically by Fuqua's Center of Decision Studies, indicate that 6 percent of M.B.A.s were actively pursuing employment with dot-com and Internet companies, versus 24 percent in 2000, the last time the survey was conducted. In addition, only 1 percent had accepted positions with those companies, down from 14 percent in 2000. Fuqua queries M.B.A.s from ten of the country's leading business schools to gauge their attitudes and career plans.

" The burst of a dot-com bubble has been reflected in M.B.A. graduating students' preference for pursuing a career with more traditional companies," says Dan Nagy, Fuqua's associate dean for recruiting, admissions, and business development. "The 2000 survey, conducted during the height of the Internet start-up explosion, revealed that, although the majority preferred more traditional jobs, there was more willingness to pursue dot-com job opportunities."

Other survey results:

-Advancing or switching careers, rather than receiving a larger paycheck, was the main reason that M.B.A. students chose to attend business school. In addition, 80 percent of survey participants felt that the M.B.A. experience had fulfilled their expectations, either "completely" or "to a large extent." Students view their M.B.A. degrees as a key to long-term career advancement.

-M.B.A. degrees continue to contribute toward narrowing the salary gap between men and women. According to the survey, female M.B.A. students still make 4 percent less than their male counterparts; however, before earning their M.B.A.s, women made 9 percent less than men. "We believe the M.B.A. compensation differential is more a reflection of their career choices than a gender bias," Nagy notes. While both male and female M.B.A.s indicate marketing and management as their top career field, a greater percentage of men than women chose investment banking.

-General Electric Company was the most admired company, replacing Cisco Systems, Inc., which did not crack the top-twenty list this year. Microsoft Corporation came in second place, followed by Johnson & Johnson. The U.S. military was among the top-ten most admired organizations for the first time in the survey's fifteen-year history.

-Far more M.B.A. students are willing to work for tobacco and alcohol manufacturers than in previous years. In 2000, only 6 percent of surveyed students expressed willingness to work at a tobacco company; in 2003, the number jumped to 42 percent. This year, only 15 percent said that political, social, or ethical concerns would prevent them from accepting a job with an alcohol manufacturer, compared with 26 percent in 2000.

-Four percent of respondents said they would not work for government, while 3 percent said the same about accounting.

In other findings, San Francisco remained the most desirable city in which to work and live. Chicago came in second. Continuing previous trends, M.B.A. students listed their fathers as the individual they most admire. Warren Buffett, who did not make the top-ten most admired list in 2000, came in second place. Bill Gates, third in 2000, slipped to fifth.