The base pay of newly minted Harvard MBAs continues to rise. Where they’re going after graduation is changing, however:
A near-record 29% of Harvard’s class of 2012 headed into the still-booming consulting industry, according to the school’s employment statistics. That’s a full five percentage points higher than the year-earlier class of Harvard MBAs and nearly matches the record 30% of graduates who chose consulting in 2003.
Grads entering the financial services industry, on the other hand, slipped by four percentage points to 35%, compared to 39% for the class of 2011. Ever since 2008, when 45% of Harvard’s graduating class went into finance, the numbers have been declining, largely the result of cutbacks on Wall Street and at other large financial institutions. The biggest hit was in investment management jobs, which attracted only 4% of this year’s class, versus 12% of the class of 2011. Investment banking jobs for Harvard MBAs fell to 7%, from 10% a year earlier.
Not all finance jobs were down. At 15% of the entire class, Harvard MBAs who took private equity jobs hit a new record. Last year, 14% of the class of 2011 headed for jobs in PE, up from 9% a year earlier and the highest since 2006, when 13% of the class took PE and leveraged buyout jobs.
The lowest median salaries were in government and the non-profit world. Harvard MBAs who entered those two fields reported median starting salaries of $90,000 — 50% lower than MBAs who went into consulting — with no signing bonuses or other guaranteed compensation. Harvard said about 3% of the class of 2012 went into the non-profit and government sectors, up from 2% last year but still well down from 6% in 2010 and one of the lowest recorded percentages in the past 10 years.