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File photo Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (AP)
File photo Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (AP)

Amazon changes the way it recruits MBAs

  • The tech giant is hiring fewer graduates from elite schools, curtailing some campus visits and putting a heavy emphasis on virtual meetings

The tech giant is hiring fewer graduates from elite schools, curtailing some campus visits and putting a heavy emphasis on virtual meetings

Amazon.com Inc. is no longer hiring as many M.B.A.s from top-ranked U.S. business schools, as it seeks to recruit a new wave of management talent from a broader array of institutions.

In the recent past, the Seattle-based online retailer and tech giant has hired as many as 1,000 full-time and intern M.B.A.s each year, concentrating on a couple dozen elite programs, some school administrators say. It would blanket campuses like MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Texas A&M’s Mays Business School with employees and executives to hold face-to-face meetings with students.

Now, in its quest for recruits with a combination of technical skills and business acumen, Amazon says it has broadened its scope and has extended offers to students from 80 M.B.A. programs, curtailing some campus visits and putting a heavy emphasis on virtual meetings. Other companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bain & Co. have also increasingly opted to expand the scope of schools from which they recruit to pull from a greater diversity of backgrounds and talents.

As in-person interviews and coffee meetups evaporated, MIT's Sloan school and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management reported declines of more than 60% in the number of M.B.A.s headed to Amazon from the Classes of 2019, compared with 2017. The number of M.B.A.s Amazon hired from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, fell by half over the same period. Columbia Business School and NYU's Stern School of Business each reported a nearly 40% drop in Amazon-bound M.B.A.s in that time.

The University of Michigan's Ross School of Business stopped releasing its employment numbers after 2017, the year Amazon was the top employer of Michigan's M.B.A. graduates, with 38. The school sent fewer graduates to Amazon last year, said Heather Byrne, managing director of the career-development office. The school declined to quantify how many graduates from the Class of 2019 took jobs at Amazon.

The company plans to hire more than 1,000 full-time and intern M.B.A.s this year, and aims to recruit from a wider variety of programs, said Jaci Anderson, an Amazon spokeswoman. It has extended job offers to candidates from 80 schools in North America. Ms. Anderson declined to name which schools were new additions to Amazon's broader hiring base.

“While we can’t have a physical recruiting presence everywhere, we’ve worked hard to scale our recruiting efforts to help us engage and assess talent around the world," said Albert Kim, head of Amazon student programs in the Americas said.

Amazon employs half a million people in the U.S., from $15-an-hour warehouse workers to six-figure-salary software engineers. Its M.B.A. recruitment is a drop in the bucket in terms of overall hiring, but Amazon is closely watched as a technology company bellwether.

Once Amazon started recruiting virtually, fewer students wanted to work for the company, some school administrators said. Susan Brennan, assistant dean of career development at MIT's Sloan school, attributed part of the school's Amazon drain to decreased face-to-face chats.

Number of MBA students recruited by Amazon
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Number of MBA students recruited by Amazon

"Students are drawn toward an opportunity where they have a direct connection," she said, adding that many students now opt to work for tech startups and consulting firms that send representatives to campus.

Amazon M.B.A. recruiting at Berkeley peaked in 2017, said Abby Scott, an assistant dean of career management at the Haas school. Since then, the company has shifted to hiring from more-technical fields of study at Berkeley, such as engineering and data science, she said.

At Texas A&M's Mays Business School, which typically attracts students with engineering and other technical backgrounds, Amazon's shift to virtual recruiting was a bit of a shock. For years, the company sent five to 10 employees and executives to scout at Texas A&M, said Kim Austin, director of the Mays career-management center.

In 2018, the company switched to virtual recruiting and stopped sending physical representatives to campus, she said.

“I first thought, ‘Woah, are they mad at us?’ but I got together with other schools and everyone had the same experience," Ms. Austin said. “It was more difficult for students to accept, but I think they are starting to accept it. Times have changed."

Texas A&M is one school where more M.B.A.s are headed to Amazon this year. The Mays school had one M.B.A. from the Class of 2019 accept a job there, and at least three are headed there after graduation in May, Ms. Austin said.

Amazon started using virtual interviewing at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but also sends several representatives to the school each fall to meet M.B.A. candidates. Kevin Stacia, an M.B.A. career coach and corporate-relations manager at Georgia Tech, said the number of M.B.A.s it sends to Amazon hasn’t dropped, in part because the school has a history of graduating business students who did undergraduate work in the hard skills of technology and engineering.

“I think that gives us an appeal as a target school, as having the type of profile of student they look for," he said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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