Forget Wall Street. M.B.A.s Want to Work for Amazon
By Kelsey Gee
Elite business-school students once set their sights on a Wall Street or management-consulting career, but today's M.B.A.s have a new desired destination: Amazon.com Inc.
The Seattle-based retail giant is now the top recruiter at the business schools of Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University and University of California, Berkeley, and it is the biggest internship destination for first-year M.B.A.s at the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College and Duke. At the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Amazon took in more interns than either Bain & Co. or McKinsey & Co., which until recently were the school's top hirers of interns, according to Madhav Rajan, dean of the Booth school.
All told, Amazon has hired roughly 1,000 M.B.A.s in the past year, according to Miriam Park, the company's director of university programs. That's a drop in the bucket for a company planning to add 50,000 software developers in the next year, but at business schools, the scale of Amazon's hiring has upended campus recruiting and stymied other companies that rely on B-school hires.
Business students understand Amazon's customer-obsessed ethos and tend to be "risk-oriented," scrappy and analytical, Ms. Park said. Many fill the company's future leadership ranks as a senior project manager, a role that typically pays $120,000 to $160,000 a year, according to career website Glassdoor.
M.B.A.s' shift from consulting and finance comes as tech companies, once reluctant to hire PowerPoint-loving B-school grads, have learned to embrace them.
Amazon's recruiting tactics can seem like a microcosm of its larger business strategy to other firms vying for M.B.A. talent. The company's recruiters descend en masse on campus and stay in touch with students constantly; for instance, eight or 10 alumni might attend large events or host coffee meetings for one-on-one conversations with students, compared with a typical one or two presenters from other companies, according to Abby Scott, assistant dean of Berkeley's Haas school. "It's been a huge volume play."
The talent wars begin virtually as soon as classes begin and sometimes sooner. Amazon in June sponsored an event for 650 soon-to-be first-year and returning women M.B.A. students at its Seattle headquarters, some of whom left with internship offers for summer 2018.
Scott DeRue, dean of University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, urges employers to hold off on recruiting until at least the end of the first week of classes.