These are trying times if you’re a member of the career development personnel within a top business school. Your duty to prepare undergraduate students for jobs and internships is being invaded by a new and unnerving phenomenon: accelerated recruiting, early pipelining, or early identification efforts. However you phrase it, it’s making life extremely difficult for undergraduate career advising pros everywhere.
While the trend is just getting started — and is mostly confined to the banking and financial services industries — business schools report that they don’t see it letting up anytime soon, leaving them scrambling to adjust their curriculum and career readiness activities for their undergraduate students.
These challenges become intensified when you’re a two-year program like the one found at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. At Goizueta — ranked 14th on Poets&Quants’ most recent list of Best Undergraduate Business Programs — students spend a required two years gaining a liberal arts education at the university. This liberal arts foundation is a key differentiator that eventually helps Goizueta students stand out in the job market. Still, Jane Hershman, director of the business school’s career management center, speaks candidly about the challenges that accelerated recruiting poses for a program where students don’t step foot into the business school until they’ve reached junior year.
In the interview that follows, she shares her fears for disruption caused by rapid recruiting practices and the creative ways Goizueta — with the help of students — is mitigating such disruption. She also shares some of the employer feedback the school receives from companies about Goizueta grads and how — despite accelerated recruiting trends — Goizueta still fares well in the job market as evidenced by starting salaries that continue to climb year after year.
P&Q: What’s Goizueta’s approach to prepping students for today’s job market and rapid recruiting given that it’s a two-year program?
Hershman: In essence, we try to open the door a little sooner so our students have a chance to be market-ready and competitive. We’re saved by the fact that — at least for now — it’s only banking that’s doing the accelerated recruiting.
The most success we’ve seen has been in partnerships with student organizations and the BBA office. We’ve been very fortunate in that we have a group of engaged student leaders in student clubs; those in finance specifically. Because we have student leaders, we also have open dialogue. We talk to them all the time then we push information out to those leaders and they push it out to the students. It’s special because they’ve also developed a peer-to-peer curriculum and academy-like structure to talk through job and internship experiences and how to prepare to get them.
We had a great student leader in 2015 who had this vision. He essentially said, ‘Let’s not just have a finance club with meetings and speakers, but let’s teach each other.’ He came together with other student heads of other clubs and that was the genesis of it. It’s all peer-driven and peer-led. They’ve developed the curriculums and we’re there to give guidance and give advice. Our student group that’s focused on consulting has started a similar academy structure so students can gain that more granular knowledge there.
Peer-to-peer knowledge is the best information for our sophomores trying to figure out what a particular experience really looks like. If you’re a student who has an upcoming Super Day at Morgan Stanley, I can tell you generally what it’s going to be like, but the senior who interned there last summer can tell you exactly what it’s like.
It also does a nice job of reinforcing messages of collaboration, networking, and working as a team. You don’t have to be a business school student to participate so it’s also a good way for us to reach out across the college.
P&Q: What’s happening in the industries outside of financial services?
Hershman: For accounting, early recruiting has always existed in the form of summer leadership programs. That’s a well-established program and you also take into consideration that accounting is a very rigorous curriculum with a lot of hours that are needed.
As far as other industries, we haven’t seen any active early hiring, but we have seen early engagement. Certainly in diversity programs targeting underrepresented minorities and LGBTQ students. We’ve seen an explosion of those the last few years.
We had some recruiters come to campus this spring to do presentations. These presentations were for summer 2019 internships. So they’re talking to the Class of 2020 about internship programs a year and four months in advance. I’m not opposed to them coming early and talking about what their company does as long as they’re not going to force students to make decisions really early.
I think the exploratory piece is valuable, but as a two-year program, there’s no time for exploration. It’s like, go get the job then decide if that’s the job you want. That’s kind of the environment we’re in.
P&Q: What are some early results or outcomes you’re seeing from accelerated recruiting?
Hershman: We do have a handful of students assigned for next summer already. That’s new for us, obviously. Usually, at this juncture, our very first group of students are starting to get bites for interviews, but that’s not the world we’re in anymore. I will say, our students have stepped up to the plate. This year, we held our banking trek three months earlier in May right after graduation and they rocked it. I couldn’t distinguish between them and a junior coming in in August. That’s heartening. It indicates we’ll have another successful year in banking.
Another outcome — the most difficult one — is our sophomores are feeling more pressure than they ever have. There’s a feeding frenzy the first semester of their junior year where students feel pressured. Even if you want to be in advertising, you’re feeling this pressure. You feel like you should be doing something even if you don’t know what that something is. There’s this frenetic energy and it’s tough because our students want to do well and and they want to be prepared.