Penn graduates enter financial services and consulting industries at higher rates than any other Ivy League university — and the numbers are ticking up.
According to an analysis of Ivy League post-graduate outcome surveys by The Daily Pennsylvanian, 50% of Class of 2022 graduates pursuing full-time employment went into finance or consulting jobs, compared to the next-highest rate of 40% at Harvard University.
Among Ivy League, Penn has highest percentage of full-time job seekers entering finance or consulting
The rate of graduates from Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences going into finance or consulting — 47.5% in 2022 — remains higher than all recorded data from other Ivy League schools. In the same year, Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science alone sent 34% of its full-time job-seeking graduates to those two industries — a higher rate than Cornell University, Columbia University, or Yale University.
Penn’s overall rate of full-time job seekers entering finance or consulting has topped other Ivies since 2018, the first year for which the postgraduate outcome reports were available from Career Services.
Nearly 80% of Wharton students work in consulting or finance immediately after graduation
Wharton senior Erin Feng said there are several factors at Penn that may contribute to the high rate of postgraduate career outcomes in finance and consulting.
“In the social scene … the clout within clubs is pretty pronounced,” she said. “All we see are these massive clubs that are all finance and consulting related — and those are two buzzwords I think every underclassman would say that they have heard millions of times.”
The massive presence and competitive nature of finance and consulting clubs at Penn have been an ongoing topic of discussion over the years. To alleviate this competitiveness, some clubs such as the Wharton Undergraduate Finance Club and the Wharton Marketing Undergraduate Student Establishment have created events and spaces where anyone can participate, regardless of application results.
Additionally, Feng said she has noticed administration trying to address this homogeneity in career pursuits by promoting “more diverse roles, whether that’s increasing the concentrations or bringing in a lot of guest speakers.”
“As you get into junior and senior year,” Feng said, “I think people start to diversify from there.”
Even excluding Wharton students, students at Penn still tend to go into finance and consulting at high rates, with a percentage equivalent to that of Harvard’s in 2022: 40%. This rate has increased slightly in the last five years, mirroring Penn’s overall increase in the rate of full-time job seekers entering finance or consulting.
Even excluding Wharton, Penn is tied for highest rate of full-time job seekers entering finance or consulting
“I think Wharton has a very big influence on many things that people do on campus,” College junior Michael Li said. “[There is a] pervading culture at Penn where you tack on a business thing, even if you’re not majoring in business, for a more practical application.”
Li added that in general, the “allure of mystery” in industries such as consulting coupled with the idea of money can be “very attractive for some people,” especially students who are undecided about their career paths.
Wharton majors most popular for students entering financial services and consulting — but the ranks are changing
Past data show that the dominance of finance and consulting at Penn has been consistent from 2011 to 2018, and the top career paths for Penn graduates have remained the same in the last five years as well. Even accounting for students who pursue higher education or are otherwise without a full-time job, graduates with positions in finance or consulting made up 36% of all recorded student outcomes in 2022.
Among all graduates, finance and consulting are the most common paths pursued at Penn
The pattern of outcomes has remained fixed, with finance, consulting, continued education, technology, and healthcare being the most common by far. The next most common industries tend to be education, nonprofit, and media, journalism, and entertainment, but these industries each make up around 5% or less of the industry composition.
“The industries Penn students tend to go into have remained quite consistent,” Executive Director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt said, noting that the slight increase in finance and consulting employees from Penn could relate to companies beginning to recruit earlier in the year.
Consulting and financial services firms often recruit on campus for students from all Penn schools. Class of 2022 graduates in certain majors — especially in the College and the Engineering School — reported above-average outcomes in consulting and financial services compared to the past five years of data.
For example, 65% of full-time jobs among cognitive science graduates in Class of 2022 entered these fields — 24% above the average of the past five graduating classes. Other majors that have seen an uptick include communications, English, and environmental studies.
Hewitt said that some fields have different timelines than others, which could impact the data.
“They’re kind of telling students why their opportunities are attractive earlier,” she said of consulting and financial services firms. “There are many things you can do with a Penn education, and the timelines are going to differ. That’s the stuff that I think is important for students to think about.”
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