A Boot Camp For Unemployed Business School Graduates

Bentley University's undergrads are benefitting from a novel boot camp to help them connect with the job market

Bentley University’s undergrads are benefitting from a novel boot camp to help them connect with the job market

Shortly after participating in a boot camp this June for unemployed graduates, Travis Stanley e-mailed a photo to his career advisor at Bentley University.

It was a picture of his home office, a cramped bedroom in the attic of his parent’s house in Arlington, Mass., which had recently undergone a complete makeover.

Stanley, a management major with a knack for construction, had freshly painted the room, and knocked down two walls, allowing sunlight to stream in through two windows. A search on Craigslist yielded him two used computer monitors and a bookshelf. The piece de resistance? A desk he bought off a recent MBA graduate from Harvard Business School,

“I’m hoping that some of his good luck will rub off on me,” Stanley said.


He’s applied for 85 jobs in the financial sector since May, but Bentley is not letting him flounder in today’s competitive job market for college students. Rather, they are keeping close tabs on him, monitoring his progress  — he was awarded two points for sending in the photo of his work space — and conducting weekly job status checkups with him on campus.

This summer marks the school’s first ever Job Boot Camp for recent graduates, a four-day intensive workshop held a few weeks after graduation, with the aim of radically changing the way college students approach the often drawn-out and frustrating search for their first job out of school, said Len Morrison, director of career services at Bentley, which has one of the largest undergraduate business programs in the Northeast.

The program had 18 participants this June, who received a crash course in how to write effective resumes and cover letters, use LinkedIn to build their networks, make cold calls to potential employers and strengthen their interview skills.  The goal of the program? Get students off the job boards and be more proactive and effective in how they approach their job hunt, Morrison said.  After the boot camp, the school continues to work with alums, meeting with them once a week and reinforcing the boot-camp skills in a Fast Track Job Search Group, which awards points to student based on the tasks they complete that week (sending in a photo, like Stanley did, of your home workspace gets you two points, while attending a networking breakfast gets you ten).


The boot camp has already had impressive results.  About 25 percent of alums have found jobs, and the other 25 percent are in their second round interviews, the school said. The remainder are still making calls and sorting out what it is they want to do, Morrison said. Bentley is hoping that the boot camp will eventually become a model other university and colleges can replicate for alums, Morrison said. He hopes to make a presentation on it at next year’s National Association of Employers and College’s annual conference. Plans are already in the works for another boot camp that will launch next January.

“At a university like Bentley employers are here nine months out of the years looking to hire, so students don’t have to reach out to alums or strangers to make connections,” Morrison said. “But once they leave here it is a totally different ball game and we need to introduce those skills early and often.”

The weak economy and lukewarm labor market has made finding employment a daunting task for recent college graduates, and the most recent graduating class is no exception, according to a May report from the Economic Policy Institute on the class of 2014.