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Grads Enter Finance, Consulting

Survey Shows 33 percent of ...06 Graduates Accepted Jobs in These Sectors

By Joyce Kwan

More MIT graduates, including those who majored in science and engineering, are accepting jobs in the financial and consulting sectors. Thirty-three percent of 2006 graduates — undergraduate and graduate students included — entered either the financial or consulting industries, according to the 2006 Graduating Student Survey conducted by the Careers Office. This is an increase from 19 percent of graduates in 2004.

Of the top 10 employers that hired the most MIT graduates, seven were finance or consulting firms, and at least a few students in nearly every course entered the financial or consulting industry. (For more details, see the table and graph on page 11.)

The 2006 survey received 1,550 responses, or 74 percent of the graduating class.

Jobs in the financial and consulting industries are appealing because they provide both intellectual challenges and opportunities to work on real-world problems, said John B. Nonnamaker, associate director of the Careers Office.

“You know exactly where you’ll be in five years,” said David H. Friend ’07, a physics and electrical engineering double major who has accepted a consulting job for Bain & Company. “[A job in finance or consulting] gives more developmental security.”

Friend is one example of science and engineering majors at MIT pursuing careers in the world of finance and consulting. The general consensus among students and recruiters is that as disparate as the fields seem, both require strong analysis and quantitative problem-solving skills.

“Science and engineering students take up very quickly because they have quantitative skills,” said Joanna B. Moody, a recruiter for JP Morgan Chase & Company. “We’re always looking for a diverse class,” she continued. Science and engineering majors are regarded as highly as majors in more immediately relevant fields, Moody added.

“Any quantitative major is going to be helpful in the financial world,” said Scott F. McDermott ’79, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who received both his SB and PhD in physics from MIT. “The physics curriculum tends to develop an intuition for problem solving. Any MIT curriculum does.” Along those lines, Nonnamaker said, “[MIT] students are highly desired.”

Christine L. Nee ’07, a chemical engineering major and the president of the MIT Science and Engineering Business Club, mentioned that in addition to the immediate gratification that jobs on Wall Street offer, such jobs also exude an aura of glamour. Already offered a position by Morgan Stanley, Nee said that acquiring experience in finance would empower her with more dimensions were she to join research companies later in her career.

Also according to the 2006 Graduating Survey, the top destinations in the United States for working graduates were Massachusetts, New York, and California, with the United Kingdom and Japan topping international destinations. “Job content” and “creative and challenging work” were listed as the top two factors contributing to students accepting their job offers.

Of the undergraduate students who responded to the 2006 survey, 68 percent responded “yes” to a question asking whether they accepted jobs related to their majors, while 26 percent responded “no,” and 6 percent responded “don’t know.”

Data specific to gender has not been compiled. “Anecdotally, there has been no gender preference,” Nonnamaker said.

Both Friend and Nee cited peers as an influencing factor in their decisions to enter their fields of interest.