Consulting jobs still highly prized by MBA students

Published: May 24, 2010

Topics: Consulting       

CNN and Universum have just released their annual list of the top 100 MBA employers. It's not a ranking of where most MBA students find jobs, but rather where they'd like to find jobs. According to the methodology used, this ranking is a popularity contest for companies. For this year's survey, Universum polled over 5,700 students (2,139 women and 3,575 men) from 50 top business schools around the country. Students were asked to select the five companies they would most like to work for, out of a list of 200.

Topping the list, not surprisingly with its zippy razor scooters and free lunches (and breakfast, dinner, and snacks in between) is Google, claiming over 22% of students votes. But consultants had a strong showing in the top 50; McKinsey came in second place, BCG landed at No. 4, followed by Bain (No. 6), Deloitte (12), Booz (31), Accenture (41), PwC (44) and Ernst & Young.

But the real headline is that management consulting reigns again as the most desired sector for MBA candidates. It was down two percentage points from last year, but 21% of respondents said they'd love to land a position in the field. Consulting has led the pack for the last six years, receiving between 20 and 25% of the votes each year. Broken down by gender, 23% of men ranked consulting as the most desirable industry to work in, whereas only 20% of women felt the same way, instead favoring consumer goods, marketing and advertising roles. This even keel is contrasted with the expected downward slope of the financial services industry (which has consistently come in second place behind management consulting). Financial services received just received 15% of the vote this year, after a record high posting of 25% in 2006.

Everyone likes winning a popularity contest. And if consulting firms can't offer walls lined with bulk candy bins and perks up the wazoo, the industry can offer the slow and steady growth and economic reactivity that grads continue to find attractive in an employer.