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M.B.A. graduates in high demand for top jobs


Masha Dorozhkina graduated from Loras College in 2002 with a degree in international business. But rather than head out into the working world like most of her peers, she chose the academic route and enrolled in Iowa State University’s M.B.A. program.

“I didn’t think I was going to have a tough time finding a job, but I just realized that I needed that higher education,” said Dorozhkina, who left Russia in 1997 to attend school and has recently begun a career with the Firestone Agricultural Tire Division in Des Moines.

That approach has left her and other 2005 M.B.A. graduates in high demand, and in a position to demand higher salaries and better compensation packages. The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2005 M.B.A. Benchmark Survey estimates that employers will hire 24.9 percent more new M.B.A. graduates in 2004-2005 than they did in the 2003-2004 academic year. By region, M.B.A. hiring is expected to increase most sharply in the Midwest, up 35.9 percent from last year.

“Economically, we’re certainly experiencing a recovery,” said Mark Peterson, director of M.B.A. and Graduate Business Career Services at Iowa State. “The recruiting and hiring managers whom we work with are optimistic again. Over the last few years there have been a lot of layoffs and budget cuts, and maybe even some companies that weren’t experiencing that were still wondering what was over the horizon. So many were hesitant to add staff and replace vacant positions.

“We’re just not seeing that anymore. Companies are adding staff fairly aggressively, and several companies are anticipating quite a bit of growth over the next several months.”

On average, employers who responded to the survey said they expect to offer new M.B.A.s a base salary of approximately $72,930. More than half of employers plan to pay more than $75,000 a year, and 58 percent expect to offer a signing bonus. When benefits and other perks are included, the overall compensation package for an M.B.A. hire averages $93,770.

Dorozhkina, whose specialty is supply-chain management, is two weeks into a full-time position as a business analyst in Firestone’s export sales office, having spent nearly one year with the company as a general export sales intern. After completing the required core classes during her first year at Iowa State, she was able to take specialized classes in her second year and apply those lessons to her work experience.

“After the first year, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Dorozhkina said. “But after having this experience and specialization in supply-chain management, it was easier to look for a job, and I saw there is a huge opportunity for (transportation) logistics (an element of supply-chain management). A lot of these positions require a master’s degree, and I don’t think I would have been able to get the job I have now if I didn’t have an M.B.A.”

Her classroom and work experience in the manufacturing sector have put her in even higher demand, as manufacturers project a 29 percent increase in hiring this year, the biggest increase in hiring among all employers.

Last year, manufacturers accounted for 47 percent of the accepted offers for Iowa State’s full-time M.B.A.s, and Peterson expects similar numbers among this year’s 40 full-time graduates. Companies such as Deere & Co., Rockwell Collins Inc., Caterpillar Inc., IBM Corp. and Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd. continue to heavily recruit the university’s M.B.A. students.

“There has been solid growth in the manufacturing industry,” Peterson said. “Manufacturing seems to be up this year and is projecting growth for the next year as well, so we’ve seen real solid recruitment.”

Peterson has also observed a recovery over the past year in the information technology field, which has led to an increase in demand for students with expertise in that area. Each student in Iowa State’s M.B.A. IT program was employed by graduation last year.

Companies such as Principal Financial Group Inc., John Deere Credit, AmerUs Group Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Ernst & Young have all been consistent recruiters of ISU M.B.A. students as well.

Tony Brownlee, who graduated from Central College in 2002 with a degree in economics, enrolled in the M.B.A. program at Iowa State in order to round out his business experience and launch a career that could contribute to Iowa’s economic development.

“I liked the theory, but I really wanted to see some functional applications from an educational experience,” he said. “I just knew that my past experiences and skill set should equip me to handle just about any situation.”

Brownlee was offered an internship with Kingland Systems Corp. in Ames in May 2003, and in August of that year was offered a full-time position as an associate business analyst. He transferred to Iowa State’s part-time M.B.A. program and since then has balanced classes and a blossoming career. He has been promoted to staff business analyst and will remain with the company following graduation.

“I thought the degree itself would open a couple of doors, but my goal was the skill set,” he said. “I wanted the knowledge and capabilities, and with that as a base, after a year or two, I knew that experience would prove itself in my performance.”

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