Strong Tech Hiring, Surge of Interest in CPG for Class of 2016

Technology, consulting, and finance remained the top three career fields for the Full-time Berkeley MBA Class of 2016, with a notable tripling of positions in CPG and retail.

The 245 graduates launched new careers in a robust hiring market fueled by strong salaries. About 90 percent reported that they had accepted job offers within three months of graduation. Pay is strong this year, too, with an average salary of $122,488, a median salary of $125,000, topped off by an average sign-on bonus of $24,777.

Technology was again the most popular field, pulling in 39 percent of those who accepted offers, and with Google, Adobe, Facebook and Amazon among the top employers. Nineteen percent took jobs in consulting, with McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Deloitte Consulting representing the top hiring firms. Twelve percent of grads took positions in finance.

Jenn Bridge, senior director of employer engagement & operations Berkeley-Haas Career Management Group (CMG), noted a surge of interest among the graduates in jobs in CPG and retail, which increased from about 4 percent to 11.5 percent of those who accepted offers.

“Every year the students’ interests change,” says Bridge “This year there was excitement around retail, and we were able to respond to that and hire an industry specialist to help students find those kinds of jobs. We develop workshops and hire industry specialists when it makes sense to help them find the best possible fit.”

The CPG/retail trend is continuing among this year’s class, which also shows a big interest in food, Bridge says.

Some students say they held out for dream jobs this year.

Jake Qian, MBA 16, turned down a lucrative offer from Google to take a position at baby food company Plum Organics for about half the pay. It was a difficult choice, and could have gone either way, he says.

“It was close, but this was the job I was more drawn to based on company culture,” says Qian, a product innovation manager. “It was a tough decision but I didn’t feel right taking a post-MBA job that I was less drawn to based on money.”

Though Plum is owned by Campbell’s Soup, it has the feel of a small, mission-driven startup, he says. As a former Target buyer with a quantitative bent, Qian says that working at a small-scale, mission-driven CPG was just one of several possibilities on his radar when he arrived at Haas. “I liked the multiple-bottom-line, B-corp concept,” he says.

But when he found out that internships in the sector were in short supply, he followed his budding passion for design into an internship at IDEO. It was in his second year, in Lecturer William Rosenzweig’s Food Venture Lab course, that he got excited about the high level of innovation driving the food industry. He could see himself as part of it.

“This feels like the right industry for me. It’s really interesting, there is lots of positive change in how people eat and how food is delivered, and there are many environmental ramifications,” he says. “My longer-term plan is to go even deeper into the industry, and set myself up as a thought leader.”

Caitlin Fitzpatrick, a retail marketing manager at Lucy Activewear, interned at Apple after her first year at Haas, analyzing education customer engagement with Apple devices and content. While working for Apple was a great experience, Fitzpatrick—who grew up swimming and skiing and now runs, rock climbs, and does yoga—was determined to work in sports retail.

Fitzpatrick began her job search in March 2016, working closely with Wendy Pratt, a CPG industry specialist with CMG. Pratt introduced her to Patrice Christensen, a former marketing manager at both Lucy and The North Face (both are owned by Alameda, Ca.-based parent company VF Corp.).

“Wendy had us practice our pitch before we interviewed every time,” she said. “I had my stories memorized for my first coffee with Patrice. All of that practice and having someone who really takes what you want to do seriously and helps you follow your dream has really helped,” she says.

At Lucy, where she has worked since last July, Fitzpatrick is responsible for the marketing strategy in all brick and mortar stores. She sees it as “an opportunity to create things,” and to market the brand to women of all shapes and sizes.

“I love this job,” she says. “It’s strategic and creative and we’re a women-focused brand. It’s a very interesting time to be working on that.”

Read the full hiring report for the Full-time Berkeley MBA Class of 2016.