A Boot Camp For Unemployed Business School Graduates

Bentley's Len Morrison

Bentley’s Len Morrison

IN GENERAL, THE JOB MARKET ISN’T GREAT FOR UNDERGRADS — BUT MUCH BETTER FOR BIZ MAJORS

“Though there has been some improvement since the unemployment rate for young workers peaked in 2010, job prospects remain dim,” the authors of the paper wrote in the report. ”Thus, the Class of 2014 will be the sixth graduating class to enter the labor market during a period of profound weakness.” The picture for business undergrads is much better, but not everyone can always connect with a job (see Robust Job Market For Business Undergrads).

That’s all the more reason that alums need to be proactive and aggressive in order to get the attention of busy employers, said Barbara Hyle, Bentley’s director of alumni career services, who ran the boot camp. That means primarily staying away from the large online job boards, and instead focusing on making tangible connections with alums and employers that are more likely to lead to a job.

“Job boards are frustrating,” Hyle said. “You can use job board to find positions, but first you need to look at who you know in the company and who do you have contacts with. That is what makes a difference in the job search.”

HOW BENTLEY’S BOOT CAMP WORKS

Hyle structured the boot camp with that philosophy in mind. The first day the students did a self-assessment of their skills and confidence levels, then spent the afternoon in brainstorming sessions on industries and companies that would be a good fit for them. They were expected to come in the next day with a resume and cover letter targeted to a job they were interested in applying for. All the resumes and cover letters were then posted on a wall, and analyzed by career services staff to see how closely they aligned with the job description.

The next step was making sure the alums were comfortable using LinkedIn to find alums and other people who might help them connect with potential jobs. By the third day, they needed to make five cold calls to people they’d found on LinkedIn or through their personal networks, asking them if they had time for a 20-minute informational interview. On the last day of the boot camp, they were doing mock in-person mock screening and second-round interviews with alums from companies such as Staples, PwC, Forrester Research and State Street who volunteered their services.

The intensive structure of the boot camp is already paying dividends for students, making them feel empowered about their job searches and more comfortable using networking as their primary job-hunting tool, said Hyle. Before the boot camp began, about 60 percent said they had no experience making “cold” calls to alumni, while about half said they didn’t feel confident placing the calls, a school survey showed.

ONE RESULT: ‘AN ACTUAL PLAN OF ATTACK’

Fast forward four days, and nearly all of the participants reported improved confidence levels, the school said.

Stanley, the alum who revamped his workspace, said he has gained some concrete skills from the bootcamp that he applies every day while doing his job hunt. He sits at his desk from 8 am to 11 am, scouring LinkedIn for Bentley alums who work in research analyst positions. He has no qualms about calling them or sending them a note, and estimates that he now has 15 valuable people in his network that may help him land a job.

“Before the boot camp, I was just basically just sending out resumes and hoping for the best,” he said. “Now, it is completely different. My job search is regiment and I have an actual plan of attack.”

A boot camp success story is Janine Velutini, a 2014 Bentley graduate from Venezuela who recently landed a job as a market development associate at Admirals Bank. She’d applied to about 100 companies before starting the boot camp, and only received a response from ten. As an international student, her job search was even more complicated because she needed to find work within three months of graduating in order to stay in America in order to keep her work visa.

‘THE BOOT CAMP WAS KIND OF MY LAST CHANCE’

“After you get turned down so many times, you say something must really be wrong with me,” she said.

On the first day of the boot camp, her adviser encouraged her to follow up with a the chief administrative officer from Admirals Bank, a woman she’d met at a networking event a few months back for Latino professionals. Velutini sent her a note on LinkedIn to check in, and a day later she got a call from a human resources representative inviting her in for an interview.  She spent the next few days prepping for the interview at boot camp, and by the time she went in she was feeling at the top of her game, she said. Her confidence and self-assurance impressed the employer, who invited her for a second-round interview the next week, ultimately offering her the job.

“The boot camp was kind of my last chance. It was either I was going home or getting that job,” Velutini said. “It really gave m the confidence going into the interviews.”

DON’T MISS: ROBUST JOB MARKET FOR BUSINESS UNDERGRADS THIS YEAR

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