Top MBA grads are choosing Silicon Valley over Wall Street

Breanna Deutsch | Contributor

America’s top MBA students are loosening their ties and heading to the office in jeans and a causal t-shirt.

A rising number of graduates from the nation’s leading business schools are choosing jobs in the technology sector instead of accepting high-paying jobs in the finance industry, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The percentage Harvard Business School graduates who took jobs in the tech sector rose from 12 percent in 2012 to 18 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the number of Harvard MBA students who decided to start a career in finance dropped from 35 percent to 25 percent in the past year.

Other leading business schools are experiencing a similar trend. Yale and Cornell also saw the number of MBA students interested in working for tech companies double since 2012. At the MIT Sloan School of Management, the financial sector only grabbed 16 percent of its 2013 graduating class, a big fall from last year’s 27 percent.

Things did not look any better for Wall Street at the nation’s West Coast Ivy, Stanford University. A growing number of Stanford MBA students decided to stay in the Valley, with 32 percent taking tech jobs and 26 percent leaving for finance. Two years ago only 13 percent of students wanted tech jobs and 36 percent were hired by firms in the financial sector.

Why are students choosing Silicon Valley over Wall Street? In most cases, it is not for the pay.

Last year Stanford graduates who started working for tech companies made a median salary of $120,000, plus an additional $38,000 in signing bonuses and other guaranteed compensation.

For most recent graduates this would seem like a very cushy salary, but it is just a chunk of what students from top school make in finance. The average earnings for a Stanford student at an entry level finance job last year was $150,000, with an additional $135,000 in guaranteed compensation and signing bonuses.

Derrick Bolton of Stanford Business School told the WSJ that students are asking, “Where’s the place that I can drive innovation? Where’s the place that I can have the most impact?”

While Wall Street firms may not offer young grads as much opportunity for creativity and do not have slides like they do at Google’s Mountain View headquarters, some firms are attempting to create more of a work-life balance.

Goldman Sachs is making an effort to limit its junior employees’ weekend hours and Barclays PLC recently instituted a casual Friday dress code.

A Morgan Stanley spokesperson told the WSJ that the firm intends to grow its recruiting operations in 2014.

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