Earlier timelines for recruitment and an increased focus in tech skills.
These are the major changes Barbara Hewitt, incoming executive director of career services at University of Pennsylvania, says Wharton’s career services office is seeing in the new world of business.
“Employers continue to seek smart, motivated graduates who are eager to contribute to the organizations where they are working and excited to learn new skills,” Hewitt explains. “That said, I have seen an increase in the level of technical skills needed for many roles. For example, students interested in marketing can benefit from knowing how to use a variety of social media platforms effectively and knowing how to analyze big data to better understand their customers.”
Specifically, in industries like finance, Hewitt says recruiters are seeking students for internships earlier than ever.
“What used to be an activity that was focused on spring of junior year has become, in some cases, an activity that is occurring during spring of sophomore year for internships the following summer – sometimes 15 months in advance,” she says. “Of course, this extremely early recruiting is not true of all industries, but many employers even outside of finance have moved their internship timelines earlier to keep pace with financial services employers.”
Moreover, an increase in the use of technology has transformed how students are recruited. Technology, such as online assessments and asynchronous video interviews, has increased pressure on students to seek internships after freshman and sophomore years to be better prepared for the internship after junior year, Hewitt says.
Knowing how to best prepare yourself for technology-driven recruitment process and being aware of the earlier recruitment timeline can ensure that you are set to secure an internship as a B-school student.
See the below interview for insights into the recruitment process and advice from Hewitt on finding your career path.
How can a student take full advantage of what your office offers?
BH: Sometimes students mistakenly believe that they must know exactly what they want to do in terms of their careers before coming to the Career Services office. Nothing could be further from the truth. Career Services offers a wide variety of resources to help students better understand their strengths and interests and how they might align with various career paths. We offer standardized career assessments, a range of online resources to explore careers, and networking assistance to help students connect with alumni to gain a better understanding of career paths.
Once a student has a clear idea of which path or paths she or he would like to pursue, we can help with the application process — resume and cover letter reviews, practice interviews, etcetera. Of course, we also have a range of offerings to connect students with employers including an extensive job board, various career fairs, employer information sessions, and on-campus interviews. In addition, we have dedicated staff available to help students explore and apply to graduate and professional schools.
Employers continue to seek smart, motivated grads. What changes have you seen in what students are looking for in their future employers?
BH: The students I work with want to enter first jobs that will allow them to continue to learn new skills every day and to progress in their careers. They also want to work for organizations that are ethical and socially responsible – employers with whom they can be proud to be affiliated.
What are some of the most popular industries for students at Wharton? What makes those industries and employers so popular?
BH: The most common industries for Wharton students are financial services — including investment banking, investment management, private equity, and venture capital — and consulting and technology. These fields typically offer ongoing training, a steep learning curve, and attractive compensation and benefits — all appealing qualities to many of our students.
What are some of the most common mistakes students should avoid when going through the recruiting process?
BH: Students should be sure to spend some time thinking about what they are seeking in a career and what really matters to them. If can be easy to adapt the views of others including peers or parents, but this can lead an individual to go down the wrong path and wind up in a position that is not a good fit.
A better strategy is to put the work in upfront to learn about various careers and to think critically about the best way to utilize one’s talents in the world. Landing an internship or full-time role — even a prestigious one — is certainly not a win for anyone if it isn’t a good fit for the particular student.
Students should also realize that the job or internship search can take a significant amount of time and they should be careful to set aside sufficient time to prepare their applications to ensure they are well crafted and contain no easily avoidable mistakes. They should also be sure to prepare sufficiently for interviews so that they can articulate both why they are interested in the opportunity and why they would be a good fit.