More than half of MBA grads appear to be concerned about paying off student debt according to the 11th annual Training The Street MBA Employment Survey conducted at the nation’s top business schools.

The survey adds MBA graduates at top business schools are extremely confident about their job prospects and nearly three quarters (72.4%) of MBAs report feeling either very or somewhat optimistic about employment opportunities compared to a year ago.

However, the survey also shows student debt is a key concern even for high earners going to Wall Street. More than half of those surveyed (56.2%) said the ability to pay back their student loans would affect the type of job they plan to accept, indicating that even MBAs, many of whom will be starting out with salaries in excess of $125,000 (42% of survey respondents), are concerned about student debt.

“The US economy is strong, unemployment is near an all-time low, and that’s fueling a tremendous sense of optimism among MBAs,” said Scott Rostan, founder and CEO of Training The Street, a corporate training provider for Wall Street firms and top-tier business schools in the news release. “But MBAs also realize that even with strong salary prospects, student loans can be onerous. Choosing the best career path to help pay those loans off is an important priority.”

Investment Firm: Temporary Choice

Other findings in the report reveal a traditional Wall Street career at an investment banking firm may be only a temporary choice. A mere 29% of respondents expect to be at bulge bracket or boutique advisory firms in five years. On the flip side, nearly three quarters of respondents (71.5%) expect to be working in private equity, venture capital, at hedge funds, or in a corporate or industry position in five years, the release added.

While salary and financial concerns are top of mind, MBAs are also focused on long-term career goals. In evaluating the most important factors when selecting an employer, 73.6% of respondents cited career growth opportunities as their number one priority. Second highest in consideration was salary at 59%.

Culture at the Workplace

Workplace culture is also important, the news release said. In deciding on potential employers, culture came in third after growth opportunities and salary, with nearly half (49.6%) of current students listing it as a priority.

“Financial decisions are framing the beginning of a financial services career,” Rostan said in the newsrelease.  “But culture and career path are also paramount. Traditional Wall Street firms have an opportunity to retain talent, especially as they continue to evolve their cultures and provide career growth opportunities in what is a highly competitive environment.”

The survey was conducted via SurveyMonkey in Q2 2019. To collect the data used in this release, 522 students currently enrolled in a Business School pursuing an MBA were surveyed, the released said.

Source: Training The Street