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The NYU Stern School of Business has a new sheriff in town. Dean Peter Henry took office on January 15th and he has his work cut out for him, as described in a recent BusinessWeek piece. Because of the school's strong ties to the finance industry and Wall Street in particular, employment opportunities and recruiting really suffered in the past year. Traditionally, high numbers of NYU Stern graduates pursue careers in the finance industry each year: 44 percent of 2007 graduates joined the Masters of the Universe on the Street, but by 2009 that percentage was less than a third (32 percent). Not surprisingly, overall class employment numbers dropped as well. Employment for 2009 graduates was significantly lower than 2008 grads: 18 percent of grads were still unemployed after three months, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.
Luckily, NYU Stern has a made headway in the past few years, building connections in the media and entertainment industries and expanding its international reach. Opportunities are there for Stern MBA students and Dean Henry is working on creating more, using his experience conducting research on emerging economies to inspire students to look abroad. And at the beginning of the last decade, NYU Stern created a new career counseling initiative to help students and recent graduates survive the dot-com bust. The school is ready to respond to a crisis--but is that enough?
The hardest battle for NYU Stern will be changing its reputation and thereby the students who matriculate and the careers they persue. Diversifying an MBA class' career goals is harder than just bringing new recruiters to campus and adding new classes. Individual MBA programs are known for their specialties--HBS is general management, Stanford is high-tech and venture capital, and NYU Stern is (was?) finance. Changing the public perception and reputation among prospective students will take years. But will changing its specialty from finance hurt NYU Stern once the economy recovers? Only time will tell.
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