Behind Employers’ Favorite Career Services Office

Indiana University Kelley School of Business Career Services Director, Susie Clarke (far right) and her team at a Habitat for Humanity volunteer build day. Photo courtesy of Kelley School of Business

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Director of Undergraduate Career Services, Susie Clarke (far right), and her team at a Habitat for Humanity volunteer build day. Photo courtesy of Kelley School of Business

The climate for recruiting business students—especially those from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business—is hot. According to Kelley’s Director of Undergraduate Career Services, Susie Clarke, top companies are banging down the school’s door to court freshmen at their orientation. Clarke tells the sophomores, juniors, and seniors to come to school armed with polished resumes. Within two weeks of the first day, the school is hosting career fairs for them with top consulting firms, banks, and manufacturing companies, among others.

And Clarke would know. Her office has played a vital role in Kelley’s ascension to the top of Bloomberg Businessweek’s employer rankings of business schools in the past two years. A Kelley product, herself, Clarke spent two decades at Fortune 500 power generation manufacturing company, Cummins, rising the ranks to director of their international human resources before returning to Kelley to help students find careers. Now she heads up the undergraduate career services where she and her team have developed a full-court press-style of finding their students jobs.

From the moment students step onto campus as freshmen, they are assigned career coaches. As they progress through their four years, they can seek industry-specific career coaches who often have extensive job-related experience. Kelley’s career services office also provides multiple workshops, events, and action plans for students. Clarke and company even sought an outside source to help develop a job posting app specifically for Kelley undergrads because they believe “if you don’t innovate, you die.”

Employers are obviously taking notice. In 2014, 93% of Kelley students who used the career services office and were actively seeking jobs found full-time employment. The statistics of that class also put to rest any notion Kelley is a regional school. Graduates went to work in 26 states, Washington D.C., and five different countries. The office also helped place 90% of the class of 2015 into internships during the summer of 2014. Depending on industry, average hourly wage for those internships ranged from $16 for management and marketing positions to $24 for summer jobs in information systems.

In an exclusive interview with Poets&Quants, Clarke delves into details about what industry she sees as booming for business students to the extensive efforts her office puts in getting top companies to the Bloomington, Indiana-based campus to how she thinks career services offices should be evaluated.

What trends are you seeing in the demand for business majors?

The demand is strong. We’re seeing them start earlier and earlier. We just had a welcome for our freshmen and there were a lot of companies that wanted to be involved in it with our Kelley Living Learning Center. The big four [Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG] were there, Salesforce was there, Kohl’s—so from all different industries. Originally, it was the service firms that were coming earlier, but now I see all firms coming earlier, starting to recruit. It’s looking very good for our students right now.

Can you give any more specifics on the demand for Kelley students over the past few years?

I think everybody after the 2009 economy slump has watched it come back up. The strength of consulting, investment banking, [and] financial service industries are very strong and are coming back. In manufacturing, I’d say they are very steady in their recruiting needs, too.

A lot of them have increased from an internship standpoint. A lot of them want to come in and have an intern join them early and have a chance for not only them to get to see what the student can do, but for the student to understand if that’s where they want to belong and where they want to go. Then they don’t have to come back for full-time recruiting later. I’ve seen a real increase in the number of interns that companies are starting to consider so they don’t have to come back on campus.

How competitive are you seeing students with one another when going after the good internships?

It’s extremely competitive. And it starts so early. It starts as soon as they get back on campus. You need to have your resume ready because the career fairs are here in less than two weeks. We really encourage students to focus and not try to go after every possibility. When we see students collecting offers, so to speak, we really discourage that and get them to focus on what they want to do so they open up more opportunities for others. It’s natural in the business school to be somewhat competitive. But I think Kelley students are also very collaborative and they want everybody to get opportunities. In that regard, there are always prime companies and jobs that they are trying to get. And that will never disappear—whether it’s Bain, or Boston Consulting, or McKinsey from the consulting end or the key investment banks—they’re very competitive at getting those top jobs.

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