Last fall, nearly two years after Brian Padworski began his career as an audit associate, he asked a colleague at KPMG to be his mentor. "The economy is not where it was a year ago, especially in the last three months, and having a mentor helps you," says Mr. Padworski, 23, who was looking for ways to shore up his future.
Mr. Padworski's mentor has encouraged him to become more aggressive, volunteer for extra assignments and to earn his CPA designation. "He helps me to assess my skills [and] gives me a better idea of how to get to the next level," says Mr. Padworski.
Known for frequently changing jobs either because senior managers haven't invested the time to engage them or because they haven't felt committed to their companies, workers in the millennial generation (born between about 1978 and 2000) have an incentive for staying put now: a shrinking job market. Indeed, employment experts say they're seeing fewer millennials ready to make a leap simply because they aren't receiving enough attention.
"Most young professionals never planned on staying in their first job for more than two years," says Terri Scandura, a management professor and dean of the graduate school at the University of Miami.
Finding that they can't move as easily from job to job, these young professionals will have to adjust to the new reality of working in one place for the long haul. To do so, they have to find ways to connect with senior managers in a less-needy way and actively seek out mentors. "Without as many opportunities ... mentoring becomes a more strategic avenue for career development," says Beth Carvin, CEO and president of Nobscot Corp., a retention-management consulting firm in Honolulu.
Yet with layoffs throughout corporate America -- and more likely to come -- how does an eager young professional connect with managers who are overworked, understaffed and stressed out? The best place to start is with the resources an employer already offers. "Most employees are surprised to discover that their companies have mentoring programs that they didn't even know about," says Ms. Carvin.
About 70% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs. The human resources or training and development department at your company can tell you what's available. At International Business Machines, for example, every employee is assigned a "connection coach" before their first day; after they join, workers are assigned a formal mentor.
Still, finding and developing a relationship with a career sage takes more legwork than it did during boom times. During economic upswings, managers feel positive and less hassled about taking on a mentee. You need to be more thoughtful and strategic when times are tough. First, take a personal inventory of your mentoring goals. What would you like to gain? Do you want to learn more about project management? Are you interested in learning about the people side of the business? Do you want help navigating corporate politics? Make a prioritized list of your goals.
Armed with a good understanding of what you're trying to achieve, seek out a colleague who has those skills or experiences you would like to acquire. "But be very careful about whom you select," says Ms. Carvin. Try to get a sense of how the person you would like as mentor sees the process; ask someone who knows their style.
You should also consider whether the potential mentor can guide you on the path you'd like to follow. The Women's Alliance at Xerox uses Mentor Scout, a Web-based automated mentor-matching program, to help connect young employees with higher-ups. The program came up with a number of matches for Carole Bakhos, a 25-year-old electrical engineer at the company. She says she chose a mentor "who started as an entry level engineer and is now a vice president of marketing," because Ms. Bakhos plans to also segue out of engineering.
Remember, mentoring is a two-way street -- even more so during a recession. You're much more likely to work well with someone if "you're seen as someone who understands the pressures [a manager is] experiencing," says Thomas J. Delong, an organizational behavior professor at Harvard Business School.
Consider teaching a mentor how to use Twitter, setting up a page on Facebook or helping a manager figure out how to get the most out of a LinkedIn page. And take stock of skills you have that match your mentor's workload.
Then approach your potential counsel in a way that offers help. You can tell a respected manager that you admire his work and ask him to coach you on specific things like how to close on a big sale or how to engage colleagues on a project. In return, offer up a skill you have to help on a project he's responsible for. "A short-staffed, smart manager today will take all the help they can get," says Ms. Scandura.
Last summer, Lisa Harrell interviewed a candidate for a director job who offered a list of impressive accomplishments. But during the 60-minute meeting, the Ivy League candidate never paused long enough for the recruiter to ask just how he executed on them.
"In the end, he took a breath and said, 'After my first 90 days, what is my next step?'" recalls Ms. Harrell, vice president of human-capital development at UnitedHealth Group Inc. in Minnetonka, Minn. His bravado cost him the job, she says.
When it comes to self-promotion in the workplace, hiring managers say some people go too far and block their path to the next level. You might call them the corporate world's "American Idol" wannabes. Like many contestants on the reality TV show who extol the greatness of their singing abilities and then end up sent home, corporate idols sing praises about their abilities without delivering tangible evidence to back up the claims.
And recruiters and employers say they're seeing the behavior more frequently in the current bad economy, as some candidates try harder to impress interviewers and workers go out of their way to hang on to their jobs.
"A lot of people are selling themselves hard," says Mark Angott, president of Angott Search Group, a recruiting firm in Rochester, Mich. Out of desperation, many job hunters convince themselves they're qualified for positions that don't match their backgrounds, he says. "They want to try anything and everything," he says.
And like "American Idol" rejects, corporate idols who lack the skills and knowledge they claim to have often handle criticism or rejection poorly. "We've had guys use every expletive in the book," says Dave DeMink, an executive-search agent in Roseville, Calif., referring to the reactions he has received from job hunters he has declined to present to clients.
Even in the current recession, some job hunters are still unwilling to bend. Brian Rhonemus, a managing director at Angott Search Group, says several former big-bank executives recently refused to consider job opportunities at small community banks and credit unions. "They balked because they didn't want to go backward," he says. "It's amazing. Some candidates just haven't wrapped their arms around reality yet."
In more robust economies, some corporate idols take their cockiness to extreme levels by demanding above-average salaries, custom job titles and other forms of special treatment. Consider, for example, the candidate for a senior communications job who told New York recruiter Bill Heyman that he would accept the role only if he would report to the large company's chief executive officer. The position reported to the head of human resources, and Mr. Heyman strongly urged the candidate "to play by company rules." Ignoring the recruiter's advice in an interview with the employer, the candidate lost out on the job, he says.
On the job, corporate idols often spur resentment among their peers. John LeBlanc, vice president of product management at Jefferson Wells International Inc., a professional-services firm, says he once worked with a colleague at a former employer who regularly puffed up his job title when talking to clients. "This same [person] routinely would tell anyone willing to listen how he was doing the same work -- and doing it better -- than his boss and his boss's boss," says Mr. LeBlanc. "He showed a great lack of self-awareness, which hurt his working relationships."
An unwillingness to accept help from a boss or colleague is another sign of a corporate idol. Case in point: When Lee B. Salz was a vice president at a small outsourcing company, he says, an employee who reported to him repeatedly turned down his offers to show her ways to improve. "She thought she knew everything and [in reality] she wasn't that good," recalls Mr. Salz, now president of Sales Architects, a sales-management consulting firm in Minneapolis.
What causes these unaware workers' heads to swell? According to Brooks Holtom, an assistant professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, employees in certain fields like customer service have no solid way to measure their performance. By contrast, sales professionals can add up the revenue they generate and compare figures over time. As a result, some people are more susceptible than others to developing false impressions about their skills, he says.
Poorly designed reward systems are sometimes to blame for overinflating egos, says Roy Saunderson, president of Recognition Management Institute, a New York provider of workplace-consulting services. "If you read the criteria, they're so loose, almost anyone can get" rewards, he says.
Of course, career experts say that some self-promotion can be helpful for moving up the corporate ladder. "A lot of times, managers have a tendency not to think about how much work went into an accomplishment," says Jo-Ann Gastin, senior vice president of human resources at Lockton Cos. LLC, an insurance brokerage firm in Kansas City, Mo. "When an employee does go above and beyond, they should make it known to their supervisor."
Likewise, it can be advantageous for job hunters to engage in a little spin-doctoring to show recruiters they're confident in their ability to handle a position, say career experts. But it's also critical to demonstrate modesty. UnitedHealth's Ms. Harrell says she hired a director last year who described himself as a technically competent leader and provided two detailed examples to illustrate his point. "He showed that he could efficiently instill a vision and accomplish major tasks, and whether he did them himself or through other people," she says. Giving credit to others and showing his team mentality helped seal the offer.
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Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation -- mathematician -- has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S.
"It's a lot more than just some boring subject that everybody has to take in school," says Ms. Courter, a research mathematician at mental images Inc., a maker of 3D-visualization software in San Francisco. "It's the science of problem-solving."
The study, released Tuesday from CareerCast.com, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. (CareerCast.com is published by Adicio Inc., in which Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. holds a minority stake.)
The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of "Jobs Rated Almanac," and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz's own expertise.
According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions -- indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise -- unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren't expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching -- attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.
The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job's median income and growth potential. Mathematicians' annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.
Of 200 Jobs studied, these came out on top -- and at the bottom:
|The Best||The Worst|
|1. Mathematician||200. Lumberjack|
|2. Actuary||199. Dairy Farmer|
|3. Statistician||198. Taxi Driver|
|4. Biologist||197. Seaman|
|5. Software Engineer||196. EMT|
|6. Computer Systems Analyst||195. Roofer|
|7. Historian||194. Garbage Collector|
|8. Sociologist||193. Welder|
|9. Industrial Designer||192. Roustabout|
|10. Accountant||191. Ironworker|
|11. Economist||190. Construction Worker|
|12. Philosopher||189. Mail Carrier|
|13. Physicist||188. Sheet Metal Worker|
|14. Parole Officer||187. Auto Mechanic|
|15. Meteorologist||186. Butcher|
|16. Medical Laboratory Technician||185. Nuclear Decontamination Tech|
|17. Paralegal Assistant||184. Nurse (LN)|
|18. Computer Programmer||183. Painter|
|19. Motion Picture Editor||182. Child Care Worker|
|20. Astronomer||181. Firefighter|
Her job entails working as part of a virtual team that designs mathematically based computer programs, some of which have been used to make films such as "The Matrix" and "Speed Racer." She telecommutes from her home and rarely works overtime or feels stressed out. "Problem-solving involves a lot of thinking," says Ms. Courter. "I find that calming."
Other jobs at the top of the study's list include actuary, statistician, biologist, software engineer and computer-systems analyst, historian and sociologist.
Mark Nord is a sociologist working for the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C. He studies hunger in American households and writes research reports about his findings. "The best part of the job is the sense that I'm making some contribution to good policy making," he says. "The kind of stuff that I crank out gets picked up by advocacy organizations, media and policy officials."
The study estimates sociologists earn $63,195, though Mr. Nord, 62, says his income is about double that amount. He says he isn't surprised by the findings because his job generates little stress and he works a steady 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. "It's all done at the computer at my desk," he says. "The main occupational hazard is carpal tunnel syndrome."
On the opposite end of the career spectrum are lumberjacks. The study shows these workers, also known as timber cutters and loggers, as having the worst occupation, because of the dangerous nature of their work, a poor employment outlook and low annual pay -- just $32,124.
New protective gear -- such as trouser covers made of fiber-reinforcement materials -- and an increased emphasis on safety have helped to reduce injuries among lumberjacks, says Paul Branch, who manages the timber department at Pike Lumber Co. in Akron, Ind. Still, accidents do occur from time to time, and some even result in death. "It's not a job everybody can do," says Mr. Branch.
But Eric Nellans, who has been cutting timber for the past 11 years for Pike Lumber, is passionate about his profession. "It's a very rewarding job, especially at the end of the day when you see the work you accomplished," he says. Mr. Nellans, 35, didn't become discouraged even after he accidentally knocked down a dead tree and broke his right leg in the process four years ago. "I was back in the woods cutting timber in five weeks," he says.
Other jobs at the bottom of the study: dairy farmer, taxi driver, seaman, emergency medical technician and roofer.
Mike Riegel, a 43-year-old roofer in Flemington, N.J., says he likes working "outside in the fresh air." Since he runs his own business, which he inherited from his father, he can start and end his day early in hot weather or do the opposite when it's cold.
The study estimates roofers earn annual incomes of $34,164, which Mr. Riegel says is consistent with what he pays new employees. Roofers also ranked poorly because of their hazardous working conditions. "You obviously can't be afraid of heights," says Mr. Riegel, who once fell two stories while working on a rooftop in the rain but luckily landed safely on a pile of soft dirt. "I missed some cement by 10 feet."
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Home Depot Inc., citing the tough economic climate, has ended its much-ballyhooed program that gave Olympic athletes part-time jobs, flexible hours and full-time pay and benefits to help support their training.
In the 16 years that Home Depot has sponsored the U.S. and Puerto Rico Olympic and Paralympic teams, it has employed 600 athletes who have won 145 medals. Home Depot's sponsorship amounted to a $15 million to $20 million commitment over four years, said one person familiar with the matter.
"At this economic time, we are looking more closely at all our programs and marketing sponsorships," said Jean Niemi, spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based home-improvement chain, whose sales and earnings have been hammered in the housing downturn.
Home Depot informed the U.S. Olympic Committee yesterday that it was ending its sponsorship effective immediately. It also held a conference call with the 98 athletes currently enrolled in the Olympic Jobs Opportunities Program.
Darryl Seibel, chief spokesman for the USOC, said the committee is sorry to lose Home Depot as a sponsor. "They have been a fantastic partner and have done a great deal for America's athletes," he said.
Home Depot is the first top-level sponsor to leave the USOC since General Motors Corp. dropped out in 2007. Mr. Seibel said 16 other major sponsors have renewed for the 2009-2012 cycle.
The athletes now employed by Home Depot can continue working flexible hours on a part-time basis and retain health benefits, but their salaries will be halved. The athletes can apply for full-time jobs at stores with available openings. No new athletes will be accepted into the program.
"This is being done with some sadness," Home Depot's Ms. Niemi added.
Athletes were required to work about 1,000 hours a year to maintain a salary of about $25,000, said Brock Kreitzburg, a member of the 2006 U.S. bobsled team. Mr. Kreitzburg has had two hip surgeries in recent months after winning the 2007 world cup title as part of the four-man team. He is taking this season off in hopes of returning for the 2010 Olympics but might not be able to get there without the Home Depot sponsorship. Other potential sponsors are notoriously hard to find for his sport.
"With the economy, everyone is going through a tough time," said Mr. Kreitzburg, 32 years old, who lives in Calgary during the off-season. "It's hard for me to ask someone who is struggling themselves to help me."
In late 2000 and 2001, several dramatic events occurred simultaneously: the dotcoms became the “dotbombs,” the economy took a steep downturn, and the tragic events that occurred on September 11th pushed the country into war and significantly impacted the already battered economy. Corporate layoffs were announced daily. Companies stopped hiring, cut spending on marketing and training, and placed restrictions on travel and other non-essential spending. Some companies shut down their campus recruiting programs entirely.
Sound familiar? This is not unlike what we are seeing today. According to the newly-released Michigan State University 2008-2009 Recruiting Trends Survey, total college hiring will decrease by 10% in the coming year. While belt-tightening during an economic downturn is unavoidable, we argue that campus recruiting activities should not be eliminated altogether. We have been in the staffing business for 25 years and run large-scale campus recruiting programs at Fortune 500 companies, such as Agilent Technologies, Ernst & Young, CIGNA, and Honeywell. We have experienced as many down-markets as we have market upswings.
When faced with tough financial conditions, here are five reasons why smart companies continue to recruit on campus.
While other companies are licking their wounds and shutting down their campus recruiting machines, smart companies use this time to recruit at better schools than they have in the past to attract the best of the best. Because fewer companies are recruiting on campus, these smart companies know they can have their pick of the talent litter. “The current economic downturn creates a vacuum of sorts where some companies’ absence allows you to woo the best in class. A year ago, these students would have been already locked up by companies via a bidding war in September,” says Adam Ward, manager of Global Campus Recruiting at Qualcomm. Thus, tough economic times can actually open up doors for companies that seize the moment to compete for top talent.
Smart companies know that this is a great time to take market share away from competitors, and this goes for talent, too. “For a company like Qualcomm that is not a consumer-branded organization, this is an opportune time to do some real brand-building beyond the typical career week visit. We see this as an opportunity to make several return trips to campus and really maximize the time where there are not many other companies that are sharing the stage,” says Qualcomm’s Ward. Now is the time to increase your presence on campus, refine and intensify your targeted messaging to top talent, and jump into the hearts and minds of student job seekers who might have never before considered your firm.
It is no secret that the next 5 to 10 years will produce a wave of baby boomer retirements. Hiring campus talent year after year ensures that your company builds a pipeline of future leaders. Gaps in your campus recruiting intake programs can lead to gaps in your talent supply and a weak source of talent waiting on the sidelines.
As Steve Canale, GE’s US manager of Recruiting and Staffing Services, notes: “GE’s global campus talent acquisition recruitment is mission critical — entry-level talent joins our leadership development programs and helps to guarantee our future leadership pipeline. We could not protect our knowledge transfer and be thought leaders without a steady state of top campus talent joining GE every year. Talent development is a core competency at GE and is taken very seriously across the organization.” Truly strategic companies will follow GE’s lead and recruit recent graduates who will join the company, cultivate their skills, and become the future leaders of the company.
Ask IBM. During the economic recession that took place in the early 1990s, IBM took a hiatus from campus recruiting. According to Eletta Kershaw, program manager of IBM’s U.S. college recruiting program, “As I understand it, it took us some time to regain a foothold at our key schools.” Today, IBM’s campus recruiting landscape looks very different. IBM actively recruits at more than one hundred universities across the country. Its presence goes far beyond traditional recruiting events: recruiters sit on advisory boards and panels, guest lecture in classes, and partner with diversity organizations. They also show students how at IBM, they can tackle meaningful projects that help the world work better. Says Kershaw, “Students like to know that as today’s world has become smaller, flatter and ’smarter, they can make a difference, from creating new green technologies to solving food shortages through smarter distribution channels.”
Their now long-standing involvement at their key recruiting schools has enabled them to get this message across to students loud and clear, and their recruitment brand has become well known among university students. These key relationships are essential to getting the best students year after year, regardless of the economic situation.
Anyone at Procter & Gamble will tell you that campus recruiting is the lifeblood of the company. Nearly 100% of P&G’s fresh talent comes from its campus recruiting program. P&G realized many years ago that sourcing top talent from the world’s best colleges ensures that P&G can recruit a large number of highly skilled candidates while avoiding the high costs of search firm fees and excessive salaries. Moreover, these recent graduate hires are groomed and promoted from within, enabling P&G to lead the way in employee retention and realize a significant return on its investments in recruiting.
One of the best-kept staffing secrets is that employees who originally came into the company as interns feel a sense of belonging and are retained at higher rates than employees who did not start as interns. This is particularly true of employees from underrepresented minority groups, which can be the most difficult and expensive group of candidates to recruit. A strategic campus recruiting program that includes a robust internship program enables a firm to gain access to top diverse talent in a cost effective way.
However, the key to a truly sustainable campus recruiting program is scalability. Even during tough economic times, many campus recruiting programs continue to thrive, and strategic companies are able to continue to have a presence on campus because their hiring programs can be scaled to appropriate levels to fit the demand. Robin Renowden, Intel’s global college recruiting manager, says it best: “It’s prudent for college recruiting managers to have a predefined, scalable recruiting strategy that enables them to dial-up and dial-down as the external winds of change are blowing. The strategy should define a minimum level of campus engagement that continues even in the worst of times. Given today’s economic environment, we need to dial our recruiting down but not be myopic. Without a predetermined strategy that outlines how to utilize resources depending on various levels of demand for talent, college recruiting organizations run the risk of being forced to cut too far.”
The best-managed companies with visionary leaders will seize the opportunity to exploit the current economic morass. Today, students are eschewing the glamour and high earning potential of the bulge bracket firms for more stable and secure positions in government and industry. There is no better time in recent memory for your organization to swoop up top talent from universities. Timing is everything and the time is now.http://www.ere.net/2009/01/06/5-reasons-to-maintain-a-strong-campus-recruiting-program-during-this-economic-downturn/#more-5208
Scott Thomas had completed nearly half of his executive M.B.A. program when he decided he wasn't satisfied. The price tag of the Cleveland school was modest, but Mr. Thomas wondered if he would get a solid return on his investment.
So the 31-year-old dropped out and enrolled in Ohio State University's Fisher School of Business E.M.B.A. program. Though his tuition costs have more than doubled -- to $72,500 for the 18-month degree -- Mr. Thomas says he believes Ohio State does more for him in the way of career development and education. "The alumni network is unbelievably large, and they're unbelievably loyal," he says.
Ohio State comes in at No. 3 on The Wall Street Journal's first rating of the five-year return on investment of executive M.B.A. programs. The program yields a 170% return on investment. Only Texas A&M's Mays School of Business and University of Florida's Warrington School of Business did better among U.S. schools, with five-year returns of 243% and 212%, respectively.
Applications for most executive M.B.A. programs are due early next year, and many working executives are weighing whether to make such a hefty investment in an uncertain economy. As companies pull back on education spending, students are increasingly paying their own way -- making cost-benefit calculations even more important. "When someone else was paying for it, that wasn't the big factor," says Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council in Orange, Calif. Only 32% of executives are fully sponsored by their companies, he adds.
The E.M.B.A. program of Columbia University (above) had a lower return than that of UCLA (below).
To determine which schools provide the best return on investment, we dived deeper into the data we collected for The Wall Street Journal's Sept. 30 ranking of executive M.B.A. programs. Working with Management Research Group of Portland, Maine, we scoured the responses from our summer 2008 survey of E.M.B.A. graduates for data about salary, raises received after graduation, company-sponsorship figures, tuition and out-of-pocket costs.
We used that information to calculate the return on investment for 27 U.S. programs and nine international programs. Costs were calculated by combining tuition payouts and the out-of-pocket expenses reported by graduates. To calculate the benefit, or return, we used the graduate-reported median raise after completion of the program as the first-year salary increase. We added a 5% annual increase over the following four years, based on the average annual increase expected by compensation specialists and executive recruiters we polled.
Most of the schools that topped the list weren't big brand names -- or the highest-ranked in our September E.M.B.A. ranking. The No. 1 school in September, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, was No. 12 in returns. Texas A&M and University of Florida, despite high returns, weren't among the top 25 in September.
At Texas A&M, low tuition and a no-frills focus are at the heart of the program. (The Class of 2008 paid just $53,000 for a 21-month program.)
"We focus on the basics," says David Blackwell, associate dean of the school's graduate programs. "What they're not getting for their money is a lot of marble and gold-plated fixtures." As a state institution, the school is under less pressure to raise revenue by accepting underqualified candidates, he says.
Texas A&M's tuition is less than half than that of New York University's Stern School of Business, the school with the lowest return on investment -- 51%. Graduates of Texas A&M's program reported receiving a median 11% raise upon completion of the program and five years after graduation were projected to earn a median $181,718 (not including bonuses). "There's more opportunity for them to advance as a result of the program, and a salary goes along with that," says Mr. Blackwell.
Not all of the earlier survey's top-rated schools delivered lower returns. The returns at University of Southern California Marshall School of Business (No. 4 in the overall ranking), University of California-Los Angeles Anderson School of Business (No. 17 in the overall ranking) and Kellogg were significantly better than those of many of their competitors. At UCLA, the five-year return was fourth-best, at 158%. At USC, the five-year return was 134%, and 2008 graduates can expect a median salary of $218,062.
With a five-year salary projection of $257,687 and a 127% return, Kellogg graduates reap significant benefits, despite its programs' average tuition of nearly $105,000. "Going back and getting your M.B.A. is an expense not only in financial terms, but in blood, sweat and tears," says Julie Cisek Jones, director of executive M.B.A. programs at Kellogg.
Even with lower returns on investment, top-tier programs had some of the highest projected five-year salaries. Columbia University's E.M.B.A. Global, a joint program with London Business School, caters to slightly older executives, and clocked in at No. 23 for return on investment, with a 69% return in five years. And 2008 graduates of the school can expect the highest salary after those five years -- with a median of $272,577.
Indeed, some schools had lower returns partly because their graduates' salaries were higher to begin with. Jaki Sitterle, managing director of executive programs at NYU, which posted the smallest return, notes that the school caters to older executives, half of whom already have advanced degrees and many who already earn high salaries.
For many graduates, the value of the E.M.B.A. is not based on salary alone. In our graduate survey, 63.3% of graduates said they received or expected a promotion upon completion of their programs, even as 31.8% did not receive or expect to receive a raise. "Increasing compensation is not always their prime motivating factor," says Ms. Sitterle.
Alex Gorsky, company group chairman for Ethicon, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, credits the E.M.B.A. degree he earned from Wharton 12 years ago with helping him achieve a top executive position. He in turn has since sponsored 12 people to attend executive M.B.A. programs, even though he says it's difficult to put a dollar amount on the return. "They have a lot of great ideas and I've always found that you get more committed employees," says Mr. Gorsky.
Some school administrators say a school's brand cachet is as important as a calculated return on investment. "We have the most selective admissions processes anywhere," says Howard Kaufold, director of the M.B.A. program for executives at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "You know when you're coming here that you are going to rub shoulders with people who are very bright and already have an excellent career trajectory." Wharton's E.M.B.A. program, which ranked No. 2 in our September overall ranking, came in at No. 24 for return on investment, with a 65% five-year return.
A school's location and access to executives also can make a difference. "We got speakers from the best companies because they were a subway ride away," says Izzet Bensusan, 32, who completed the Columbia's New York program earlier this year. The program was 26th out of 27 schools for return on investment. Mr. Bensusan, an entrepreneur who recently started a carbon-regulating company, says he paid approximately $130,000 out-of-pocket to attend the program. He says it was worth every penny. "I only paid $130,000, and I got to sit with the best people in the world," says Mr. Bensusan.
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