Bethany Godsoe has been at New York University for over 17 years. She started out at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service as the Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Student Services and Director of Admissions. After four years, she moved to become the executive director at the school’s Research Center for Leadership in Action, and in 2013, she became Associate Vice President for Student Leadership Initiatives at NYU. Today, Godsoe is the Associate Vice President for Career and Leadership Development, helping students at the Stern School of Business take all the necessary steps to get to their dream careers.
“My work is to equip them (students) to thrive in today’s economy and job market with my exposure to industries and stakeholders,” Godsoe, who worked in the nonprofit sector doing program work before getting into higher education, says. “Stern students have consistently been bright, eager, and really liked by employers, and increasingly so. Our placement rate has consistently been around 98%.”
Godsoe adds that at Stern, she often reminds students that there is no prescribed path to success, and that success is defined differently by different people. The key, she says, is to help a student pursue their passion, whether it’s getting their first job in investment banking, or biking across the country to raise awareness about a cause.
P&Q: What major changes have you seen in the students at Stern in terms of career development?
Godsoe: We received a record 75,000 applications to our freshman class this year and things are increasingly competitive. The students coming here are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, but what I’ve noticed in this new role is that Stern business students are set apart from other business students because of the strength of the liberal arts here. Many students develop competencies in a variety and range of areas, including tech, entertainment, media, and finance.
Our students also graduate really savvy after having to negotiate life in New York City, and with expert communication skills. They’re comfortable communicating with people across the university and with employers in different industries.
The shift over time that has happened is that NYU has grown in prominence as a global network university, with campuses all over the world, and students are offering employers intercultural experiences at a very young age. More students are studying away from home, and the students are increasingly global.
Student success today is also very different. We are training students for more diverse industries, dynamic workplaces, and economies. Students need to be more adaptive and global in outlook than ever before, and it’s exciting for me to bring my leadership development skills to NYU. Having a global orientation will help the student to succeed not just in college, but all throughout their career in a rapidly changing environment.
How have employers changed over your time in higher education, and what are they looking for in Stern graduates?
Employers today are looking for students to hit the ground running. They’re still looking for employees who are skilled and reliable, but the workplace is changing so rapidly, coupled with the earlier recruiting timeline, they’re now looking out for students with raw intelligence and competence who will be a good fit for their company. It’s not all about the traditional checkboxes anymore.
Employers are also now using a variety of predictive analytics as tests to predict which students will best learn and grow in their environment. This way, they can identify early candidates. They’re also using more virtual interviewing, and what’s really important is that students practice and get familiar with great technology. Record and practice for interviews and get feedback. The important thing is to remember that all the same rules apply as if it were an in-person interview.
Some companies are also giving applicants different kinds of aptitude tests, and by comparing how current employees did to candidates, they can get an idea of which individuals display similar traits that the company is looking for.
Students need to practice articulating their meta skills, and what they have learned that can be applied across contexts. They need to articulate it through resumes and interview, know their story, and be able to communicate it effectively to employers, whether it’s in a networking session or formal interview setting.
We encourage our students to think about the needs of the industry, and how their story fits. One of the things we do is help freshmen figure out where they belong in the industry.
Can you share with us some of the innovative approaches you’ve taken at Stern, and why they work well with students?
One of the main keys to our success is about doing work collaboratively, not just within my team, but in partnership with others. We are not the only place where career development happens for the students. Rather, we work with faculty and employers to provide a holistic student experience.
We work closely with our faculty, many of whom are still involved in their industries, and make connections with employers. The employers often come on campus, not only to promote and recruit, but also to do full-day conferences and one-off workshops. They are involved not only in the recruiting our students, but in their education as well.
Employers are also engaged in providing mentorship sot some students, specifically first-generation students, in an ongoing program we have. It’s a win for employers as they raise their visibility on campus and develop close relationships with the student body, helping them better understand student experiences, and what motivates them. In return, these students get invaluable guidance on choosing and developing their careers, and we as a university develop deeper relationships with these employers.
Have you noticed any trends in what students are looking for in their employers and companies they are thinking of joining?
Employers are maintaining relationships with students throughout their undergrad career, and seeing the power of peer-to-peer connections and students as ambassadors on campus and employing that strategy.
Beyond the traditional measure of opportunities for growth, compensation, challenges in the role, and the way it will enable the students to bring their strengths to the organizations, students have started looking beyond those consistent criteria. Over the years, they’ve begun to look more at, and take more interest, in companies that reflect their personal values, regardless of the industry. To meet this interest, some employers are doing volunteer events alongside students to recruit them while talking about their community impact efforts.
Particularly to NYU, our students are increasingly excited by employers who create space to encourage entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking. Our emphasis on entrepreneurship in the university attracts students who are seeking out opportunities and creativity, and here, they find that they have lots of opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial interests. From here, they want to move into an environment that will support their ongoing engagement in entrepreneurial activity. It’s not necessarily about starting a company, but about being encouraged to think within the company.
What advice do you have for business students who are about to step into the world of business?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Be authentic in your approach because it’s not always about what you think the company wants. Think about how you will thrive in the long haul, and the value you bring to them. Find the common thread between all your experiences, develop it into a powerful narrative, and bring it to the company.
We remind students to make connections with people, even during virtual interviews, using eye contact and body language. Keep your responses focused, concise, and on pointe. The advice to students is to remember that it’s still a professional interaction, even though it may feel like a conversation with a friend or family member.
And in one sentence, the golden rule is to remember that there’s always more to learn, so ask questions, find mentors, and stay humble.