Why Notre Dame Wants Biz Students to Look Beyond Finance

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business graduates. Photo courtesy of Mendoza College of Business

P&Q: Mostly all of the top business schools have talked to us about accelerated recruiting. How is Notre Dame responding to this trend?

Vander Heyden: Accelerated recruiting is a pretty recent phenomenon, so a lot of how we respond is still to be determined. Do I think we’ll be banning together as a group of schools to slow it down? That probably wouldn’t be very effective. I would look for a national organization like NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) to take a view on this. It’s always a fine line. Certainly we don’t want to deprive our students of opportunities, right? But at the same time we want to help them make good decisions.

I think the employers care. As far as feedback we give them, I think it’s more ad hoc feedback at this point. Certainly when employers are on campus and we chit chat and get to know them.

P&Q: You mentioned students using this time to pursue things they’re interested in. How do you advise them to balance those interests with the accelerated recruiting practices that are sweeping across business schools?

Vander Heyden: Frankly, it’s getting tougher and tougher. You have students who will say, ‘My uncle is in accounting, this is really what I want to do.’ If they’re settled on that, great. For students who aren’t as settled, you want to encourage them to take the time to discern, do job shadows, find a couple of mentors in different industries to learn more. There’s no sense in rushing anything. Yes, things are accelerated, but there’s still time. Even in junior or senior year there are opportunities, but you may have to work a little harder or network a little more.

P&Q: Are there any other recruiting trends you’re seeing at the moment?

Vander Heyden: Virtual interviewing. HireVue is a good example of that and there are others. A lot of companies are using those. Students basically talk to a blank screen. They answer questions while being recorded then companies go through those as screenings or first interviews. As for the students, they don’t like it so much. I don’t think students are against Skype or Zoom when there’s back-and-forth interaction and another person on the screen. But a two minute pre-recorded answer with no verbal cues and no body language, that’s pretty tough.

P&Q: What are Mendoza grads known for in the market? What makes them stand out?

Vander Heyden: I think they’re known for a well-rounded education. A fairly high percentage of their credits come from outside of Mendoza; philosophy classes, sociology classes, economics classes, etcetera.

Another thing is their ability to work in teams and collaborate. This is a focus of Mendoza and really Notre Dame itself. And the idea of ethics in business is very important to us and to Mendoza.

P&Q: Which industries and companies are students anxious to get into and why? What makes them so popular?

Vander Heyden: It’s a pretty good mix I believe. The top three — and in no particular order — are public accounting, financial services, and consulting, but there’s certainly a variety after that. Corporate finance, real estate, commercial retail, banking. The list goes on. I would refer you to our First Destination Report for public data about specific industries and companies.

P&Q: What are employers looking for in graduates these days?

Vander Heyden: They’re looking for the professional skills and competencies that are fundamental to working in a professional environment. The number of high school students who work during the summer has really gone down. I think this generation of students may be lacking in some professional skills. For instance, how you address people and the importance of being on time. Not saying this is the case for Notre Dame students in particular, but it’s more of what employers are looking for from any university. Also, the ability to work with teams and ask probing questions. This is not so much the case at Notre Dame since we do a pretty good job to make sure they can work well with teams and know what to expect.

P&Q: What are your students expecting from future employers?

Vander Heyden: In a 2017 study done with our business students, the top priority was work-life balance. Another top one is to be dedicated to a cause or feel they’re serving a greater good, to be competitively or intellectually challenged, to be entrepreneurial, creative/innovative. These are the top things they’re looking for in long-term career goals.

P&Q: Are students looking for jobs only?

Vander Heyden: For business students, 86% entered the workforce on graduation, 10% went on to graduate school — typically an MSA or MBA program. Some go into the service for a year or two after graduation. Others may be in entrepreneurship or become a professional athlete. As a career center, it’s not just about finding students jobs. It’s about advising them on first destination as opposed to it being about placement.


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