12 Topics, Trends and Takeaways From our 12th Annual MBA Connections Conference


Our 12th annual Connections Conference once again brought together the thought leaders in career services and talent acquisition, responsible for shaping the future of graduate business school recruitment. This year's agenda included informative breakout sessions covering today’s most pressing topics in the industry, panels covering innovative ways schools and companies are using the power of data, an interactive speed networking event, and an inspirational keynote from Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO, Patrick Losinski.

Here are some of the key takeaways and resources from MBA Connections 2017 that you won’t want to miss:

  1. Employers and career centers are finding that in today’s evolving, tech-dependent and connected world, the most successful MBA students on various career paths often have technology backgrounds and skills.
  2. Real-time labor market analytics and offer comparison tools can help career centers and employers better understand the current job market and fair compensation packages based on specific functions, industries and levels of experience.
  3. Predictive analytics are growing in popularity within HR departments as a tool to target right-fit candidates by better understanding what career experiences and skill sets are needed to be a successful employee.
  4. Many MBA students today still focus on the top finance and consulting firms so even well-known brands can find it challenging to appeal to the best and brightest candidates. Recruiters are forced to rely on virtual employment branding tools like email marketing, video advertisements, career websites, and social media to promote their company’s opportunities to students. Organizations who are successful at using social media for branding often use a unique #hashtag to continually share stories about their work environment, employee testimonials, and extracurricular programs to help people better understand their unique company culture.
  5. International student recruiting and placement of students from outside the U.S. are growing concerns and remain major challenges for both employers and career centers. One unique solution that both career centers and employers are offering to non-U.S. students seeking jobs within the U.S. is to assist their spouse or partner in finding a job as well.
  6. Each specialty Master’s program offered by graduate business schools includes unique students with unique skill sets – employers are just now starting to understand how each program’s students fit into their recruitment plans and hiring strategies.
  7. Employers continue to push for earlier recruitment of students in order to remain competitive while schools maintain that students need more time on campus to determine the right career path.
  8. Students are becoming more skeptical of employment opportunities – often questioning the legitimacy of templated job postings lacking specific details about the role. Companies need to provide more unique descriptions and scope of job duties on job postings to attract the right candidates to their company.
  9. Beyond previous experiences, education, skills, and career preferences – passion is the #1 criteria when hiring right-fit talent but also a difficult quality to screen for during the sourcing process as MBA students today are extremely good at telling you what you want to hear. Additionally, employers are looking for students with soft skills who are eager to learn and capable of building rapport with colleagues.
  10. “Diversity” means different things to different organizations but can include everything from race to gender to sexual orientation to veterans to people with mental and physical disabilities. Most employers today have specific hiring initiatives for all of these. Career centers can work with student clubs on campus to help identify these targeted candidate groups for employers.
  11. Alumni are incredibly valuable resources that can act as a bridge between job-seeker and employer. Recruitment teams need to look inside their organization and identify alumni from their core schools and use them as a means to connect with students as brand ambassadors. Career centers can also identify alumni working at companies recruiting on campus and introduce them to students looking for an insider’s view of the company’s culture.
  12. Successful organizations understand and build internal awareness around how each team member’s “20 square feet” of responsibilities helps the team achieve their goals as a whole. “Without our people, we’re just four walls and a lot of books.”  Download Patrick Losinski’s entire keynote presentation highlighting the importance of culture and how it has shaped the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

 Other Resources Mentioned at MBA Connections 2017:

  • Download our tech jargon pocket guide so you can stay updated on technology-related terminology
  • Watch the “Stuff business people say” video on YouTube for a good laugh at industry-specific jargon
  • Poll Everywhere is the real-time polling tool we used; learn how you can present live audience feedback
  • Cut through the clutter of dense, traditional business news with Morning Brew, a quick and quality daily e-mail newsletter for the millennial business professional.


Ryan Pratt

Ryan Pratt is the Vice President of Marketing and Research at GradLeaders. During his 10+ years at GradLeaders, the network has grown to have now helped over 600,000 employers and 26,500,000 students from more than 1,000 schools around the world. Ryan graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

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