McKinsey & Company, Google, Cambridge Associates Lead MBA 11 Hiring

If bookings for interview rooms could be read as an economic indicator, Lisa Feldman, executive director of the MBA Career Management Group, forecasts another strong year for Berkeley MBA students in the job market.

All 11 rooms dedicated for on-campus interviews of Berkeley MBA students are booked solid – in fact, are overbooked – for the first few weeks of spring, when top investment banks, consulting firms, and other companies will be coming to campus. (No worries, more interview space is arranged as needed.)

A robust start to spring could mean the fourth consecutive semester of the turnaround in interest from employers and a nice continuation of the strong market enjoyed by the class of 2011, according to Feldman. Ninety-one percent of the class of 2011 accepted job offers within three months of graduation.

In contrast to high unemployment in the overall economy, MBA students enjoy a somewhat unique niche marked by active hiring, according to Feldman. “2011 was a good year for MBA hiring,” Feldman says. “We know there is suffering on the overall employment landscape, but our MBA graduates are finding success in their job searches.”

The class went to work for an average annual salary of $114,232, compared to $107,451 in 2010. The median salary was $111,000 and students collected an average signing bonus of $22,344.

Fifty-five students, or 27 percent of the class, went to work in consulting, up from 24 percent last year. Sixteen of those students are at McKinsey & Company, which doubled the number of Berkeley MBA students hired above the previous year and made McKinsey the top hiring firm of graduates from the MBA class of 2011. Deloitte Consulting was the No. 2 hirer.

Large numbers of students also went to work in the technology industry, with 32 percent heading off to such top hiring firms as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. The 16 percent of students who went to work in financial services joined such top hiring firms as Cambridge Associates and Citibank.

Berkeley MBA students continued to show strong interest in energy, health care, and biotechnology, with 7 percent of the2011 class joining each sector. Top hiring firms in these industries included Pacific Gas & Electric, Bloom Energy, Genentech, and McKesson.

Consumer products companies attracted 4 percent of the class, while 3 percent went to work in real estate and 1 percent in the nonprofit sector.

The majority of the class of 2011 stayed in the western United States. Those who ventured farther afield headed for Asia (7 percent), the northeastern U.S. (6 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (5 percent), and Europe (4 percent).

“The number of global companies that have approached us for recruiting has increased this year,” Feldman notes. Chile’s LAN Airlines, Brazil’s Itau Unibanco, and Chinese medical device firm Mindray have already been to campus for recruiting events and interviews.

Kitty Sullivan, MBA 11, took a job at Bain & Company in Amsterdam, where she helps with due diligences on potential investment targets for private equity firms. “I really love living in Europe–all the different cultures, so many countries a one-to-two hour plane ride away–and wanted to try a new city after having lived in London and Barcelona,” she says. “My job search took a lot of twists and turns but what helped me most was talking to as many people as possible in all the industries and roles I was considering. I probably spent one to two hours a day most days of the week on networking, researching, chatting, etc. for the majority of my first year.”

Meanwhile, during their first year, students in the class of 2012 spent 10 weeks this summer working at internships in such organizations as Visa, Facebook, and the San Francisco Unified School District. On average, they earned a monthly salary of $6,646. Firms that hired the most Berkeley MBA interns included Google, Apple, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, and The Boston Consulting Group.