We’re thrilled to share some exciting news released earlier this week about the career outcomes for the Class of 2020. Despite the widespread economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic at the exact same time the Class of 2020 was preparing to graduate and begin their post-MBA careers, the class earned the highest average starting base salary in school history. The impressive average of $139,945 is up about $4,800 from the Class of 2019’s average salary, which was also a school record.

Top employers of 2020 graduates include:

  • Boston Consulting Group (25)
  • Bain (17)
  • McKinsey (17)
  • EY (15)
  • Amazon (11)
  • Dell Technologies (8)
  • Deloitte Consulting (8)
  • Wayfair (8)
  • Accenture (7)
  • Google (7)
  • Microsoft (7)
  • Capital One (6)

Employment prospects for international students also remained strong – 91 percent of students without permanent U.S. work authorization received a full-time employment offer within 90 days of graduating. Additionally, 91 percent of Class of 2020 students accepted a job offer within 90 days of graduation, further demonstrating the resilience of Darden students, the Career Center and the commitment of employers.

On a recent episode of Experience Darden, Jeff McNish, assistant dean for Darden’s Career Center and Casey Floyd, director for employer engagement and recruiting shared insights on Darden’s Career Center philosophy, what each attributes to Darden’s record-breaking career outcomes and how the virtual recruiting process has looked (including an incredible example of a virtual pig roast — a much anticipated annual on-Grounds event hosted by one of the recruiting employers). Listen to the full Experience Darden episode to hear all the details.

McNish is in his fifth year serving as the assistant dean for the Career Center. “I love my job, I love what I do, I love watching students achieve their career goals,” he said.

When asked how McNish views his role at Darden, he said, ”I’ve worked at other business schools in my time in higher education,

Casey Floyd, director for employer engagement

Darden and the University of Virginia are by far at the top — the talent we have, the talent we see in our students, the strong connections we have with employers, it just makes this job and the opportunity to serve really top-notch.”

Floyd (GEMBA ’17) leads the Employer Engagement Team within Darden’s Career Center, and works directly with the approximately 120 companies that engage with and recruit from Darden. Floyd also does works closely with the Center’s Career Coaches and helps to coach students as they progress through the recruiting process. On her coaching role, Floyd shared, “It’s very rewarding to see them on their career journey and land offers and be successful in getting that job.”

On their approach to career support at Darden:

McNish: “First, we really want to inspire a Darden student to pursue their passion and to pursue why they want the degree – if you are getting an MBA for a particular purpose or a particular career path, we will partner with you to help you achieve that goal. Second, once we’ve figured out what that goal is, we hope we have learning opportunities where we can teach you to excel in the job search process. Many people have multiple careers over their lifetimes and knowing how to do the job search, and knowing how to do it well is key and sets you up for long term career success.

Floyd: “We want to create a customized, individual approach with each students. Everyone’s career goal and aspirations are different and personal to who you are and where you want to go. Whether we’re starting from scratch in the beginning or you’re that student that comes in knowing exactly what you want to do and has experience networking – we want to meet you where you are and provide that experience and career satisfaction.”

On what has led to Darden’s record career outcomes:

Floyd: “The career outcomes are a testament to the type of student Darden attracts and who comes in the door. These students are top talent — very intelligent, thoughtful, humble students who are willing to put in the work, work within teams, and want to be challenged. Starting with that canvas makes it easier — employers know that they can come and get that level of talent and continue to foster that relationship. And I have to give recognition to our alumni network — so many alums are in these organizations and they want to come back and recruit more Darden talent because they know the value that Darden grads provide in their organizations.”

McNish: “We’ve also worked hard to develop a coaching model where the career coaches are organized by industry or sector and that provides the coaches with an opportunity to get really close to the trends and issues in each of those sectors, whether it’s healthcare, real estate, consumer packaged goods or the traditional sectors like investment banking or consulting.”

Jeff McNish, assistant dean for the Career Center

On how fall 2020 has played out:

In a fall unlike any other, the Career Center team (and the Darden students) have all pivoted to an entirely virtual recruiting landscape. Some things seem to stay the same, though. Floyd said, “Our employers have tried to remain as consistent as possible, especially when it comes to recruiting events and engagements and networking. When I look at the calendar year over year, I see a lot of the same company briefings and interviews. It’s been similar but it’s looked different. Our employers and alum loving coming to Charlottesville so of course we heard a lot of people saying that they were missing being on Grounds at Darden but at the same time we’ve gotten feedback from employers who felt like they were still able to build strong connections through the events that they hosted.”

Pictured in feature image: Liana Abbot (Class of 2021)

Read the summary on the Darden Report to find out more about the Class of 2020 career outcomes.

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