Going beyond the $150,000 exit salary of Columbia MBA grads

Everybody wants to make an impact on the world in their own little way. With an MBA, you’re giving yourself a better opportunity to make a bigger impact. We spoke to Michael De Lucia from Columbia Business School to learn how their MBA program gives students the tools they need to make that impact.

In short

What happens before you start the Columbia MBA?

What comes to mind when you think of Columbia Business School? It’s one of the oldest and most famous business schools in the world, with a long list of famous alumni. Despite its global reputation, Columbia remains laser-focused on each and every student that walks through its famous doors.

Michael De Lucia is the Executive Director of International and MS Career Management at Columbia. He told us a little more about the school’s process for getting to know Columbia MBA candidates.

“I work closely with all students, but very closely with international students,” he says. “We’re very invested in the students that we meet. We consciously try to meet them early and provide advice to support them prior to their arrival at the school.” (00:44)

From these initial meetings, the seeds are planted for a student’s entire time at Columbia. Once Michael and his team have learned about the interests, skills, and motivations of each student, it’s about setting them on the right path and watching them flourish.

“We learn a little bit about their career goals, what they know, what they don’t know, how to think about what’s coming up, and how to best prepare,” he explains. “It’s also about watching that incredible journey over the course of their time at Columbia Business School.” (02:14)

The exit salary of Columbia MBA grads

Given the huge investment of an MBA, many students understandably focus on the salaries they’re likely to receive after graduation. After all, it’s important to make sure you’re able to recoup the costs of your investment. Michael says that Columbia MBA graduates obtain lofty exit salaries. However, he cautions that there are many more factors to consider when it comes to choosing an MBA.

“The median base salary of the 2021 graduates was $150,000. For many, there are also signing bonuses of a guaranteed compensation on top of that, and you can very much see how the ranges may differ by industry or maybe even function,” he explains. (09:21)

“Compensation coming out of business school is absolutely one element that may be to some degree a driver, but I would say Columbia Business School students have a variety of other lenses that they look through when they’re thinking about what to do after the degree,” he adds. (07:37)

A school like Columbia doesn’t gain the reputation it has by only focusing on salaries. The school prides itself on providing those intangible benefits of an MBA that Michael touched upon; the type of things that you can’t put a number on. Let’s delve a little deeper into that.

The benefits of an MBA that you can’t calculate in a spreadsheet

Columbia is a melting pot of people from different countries, working across various different industries and roles. The potential advantages of that are huge. By connecting with this range of people from all over the world, you’re opening doors that will benefit you throughout your career.

“What you choose to do immediately out of business school will be wonderful,” Michael tells us. “But the real benefit of an MBA is that it allows you to make career transitions along the way. You can leverage the network that you develop here at the school, as well as those career development tools you learn that are always going to be valuable in life.” (01:02)

If you’re trying to work out the return on investment of your MBA, then this isn’t necessarily what you want to hear. But, Michael says this network-building is something that will benefit you for the rest of your life – even if you can’t work out its value just yet.

“An MBA is also about the network that you build,” Michael states. “So from the people that you meet at the school, but also the network that you will be creating at your next employer. It means the return on investment isn’t always going to be something that you can calculate in a spreadsheet.” (11:57)

What to expect after the Columbia MBA

There’s no doubt that an MBA from Columbia helps to raise your career prospects. However, as with anything in life, there are never any guarantees. Michael says that to get the most from your MBA, you need to prepare for it as best you can. That means coming to Columbia with a reasonable idea of what you want to do after you graduate.

“Do some of your due diligence,” he urges. “Talking to people across different industries before you arrive is going to be really helpful. I wouldn’t recommend coming in and saying ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ – try to have an idea of some potential areas that you may want to explore further.” (16:48)

The financial aspect of an MBA is important. The network that you develop during an MBA is important. But, Michael says that Columbia graduates are looking for one thing above all else after they graduate: impact.

“Our students want to make sure that their values align with those of the organization,” he explains. “But the thing that strikes me most, and something I constantly hear about, is their desire for impact. Our students want to work at a place where they have a seat at the table, where what they do actually has an impact on the world in some way.” (06:36)

Perhaps it is that desire – and ability – to make an impact in the world that makes an MBA one of the most valuable degrees in the world. Armed with a global network of contacts, a solid knowledge of business fundamentals, and international exposure, MBA graduates are more equipped than most to make a difference. That’s really what motivates us in life and at work – and it’s what an MBA can help you do.

Share this article: