From the Fall 2012 issue of Reaching Higher: The Binghamton University School of Management Magazine
By Steve Seepersaud
For four years, Randi Huff was director of recruitment and development for Northwestern Mutual in Binghamton. Although she still wears her "recruiter hat," it's now in a different role — as an MBA student in the School of Management and part-time graduate assistant in the school's Career Services office. Huff meets one-on-one with students, giving advice on cover letters, résumés and interviewing skills. In addition, she manages the office's social media sites.
"Helping students with their career journey is fun and rewarding," Huff says. "I remember how much better I felt about the internship and job search after simply talking to someone about it. Up until this point in their lives, everything has pretty much been dictated for them with a logical next step, so I'm happy to help make that process less scary."
Fueled by a $200,000 gift from Barry Goodman '79, the school's Career Services office has grown from a single director of placement to a staff that includes a director, assistant director, secretary and two student assistants. Christina Whitney, director of SOM career services, has 17 years of experience in education. Previously, she was associate director of career services at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa.
The office is open every business day, serving as a vital resource for students seeking assistance with résumés, cover letters and skills in networking and interviewing. The staff provides students with guidance through individual sessions and small-group workshops. Programs such as the Executive in Residence series that bring executives
to campus for one-on-one sessions with students provide opportunities for current students to build connections with professionals in their areas of interest. The noncredit career curriculum that each student participates in, beginning freshman year, includes 13 contact hours with staff.
Twice a year, the office coordinates visits to firms in New York City, taking groups of students to various businesses for presentations and information sessions. The visits give students a firsthand look at firms and their cultures while educating them on how to effectively position themselves for future opportunities. The office arranged 25 visits in January 2012 and conducted 13 visits in the summer.
By maintaining existing relationships and building new ones, SOM Career Services is a key link between students and employers. In the past 18 months, SOM has established relationships with large corporations including HSBC and IBM as well as smaller high-tech startups. An online platform for recruiters to share jobs with SOM students will roll out this academic year.
Strong demand for services
Whitney says both the services offered and client base served have increased dramatically since she started. During its first semester of operation, the office worked with 400 students. In the spring 2012 semester, more than 600 students sought assistance.
"There is nothing I enjoy more than watching students evolve in their career paths," Whitney says. "As freshmen, they are unsure of what to do and how to navigate the next few years of their lives. My favorite day is graduation, when they walk by me and I know how far they have come. I've been watching students graduate for years and it never gets old."
In addition, Whitney says she has seen a steady increase in the number of graduates providing job postings to be distributed through SOM's alumni listserv.
"My Rolodex has exploded," says Whitney with a laugh, admitting she still uses one. "One of the best tools is the alumni job postings e-mail. We send one out, and it begets three postings, then three more. Alumni reply saying 'my company is hiring, too.' We have to change the culture with students. This is a place they can come to and use as a resource. It's not just a one-stop; it's a continuing relationship."
Alumni making an impact
Engaging alumni is a priority for SOM Career Services, as it creates opportunities for graduates to give back to the school and provides valuable connections for students seeking internships and jobs.
Denise Manukian '10, media sales planner for Madison Square Garden, has remained connected to the school since graduating in 2010. Manukian has met with students at MSG during winter break and also at the Metro Career Night networking event in Manhattan.
Being involved with SOM Career Services is beneficial for students, says Manukian, because they gain insight into a major company and interact with industry professionals. She says she's always willing to share knowledge on how students can effectively transition into the workplace as new alumni.
"My e-mail box is open to any student who wishes to ask for advice," she says. "It's very important for students to be prepared for the real world and to learn how to interact in a business setting by participating in these career service programs."
Paul Cho '10, MS '11, who works in the risk consulting area at KPMG in New York, has been engaged with the school for several years, participating in a number of recruiting and networking events. He mentors several students and helps them prepare for on-campus interviews through mock phone interviews or, when possible, in-person interviews.
"I believe that having a strong Career Services office is crucial to helping the strength and overall reputation of the school," Cho says. "The office is the major liaison between the firms coming to campus to recruit students and SOM. Although student organizations and alumni facilitate professional events, the Career Services office is the strong foundation that maintains relationships with the firms."
Although staff are careful not to use the words "placement office," it's certainly no secret that placement rate is a clear measure of success. In May 2012, 46 percent of SOM undergraduates received an offer by graduation; last year's figure was 39 percent. Whitney says that 71 percent of MBA graduates had an offer by spring 2012 Commencement; that figure was 67 percent for graduates three months out in 2011.
"Our surveys have a response rate of more than 90 percent and that is huge," Whitney says. "It speaks to the relationship the students have with the school. It's hard to compare us to other schools because not everyone uses the same methodology. Their response rates are usually lower, and they're only hearing from the alumni who get jobs."
Huff is hoping to receive an offer prior to May 2013, when she completes her MBA. As she enters her second year of the program, she's considering three career paths: human capital consulting, human resources or higher education. While those are very different options, she feels that her experience working for SOM Career Services has positioned her to be successful at any of the three.
"The knowledge I have gained regarding social media branding and marketing will be very helpful," Huff says. "Prior to working in the office, my knowledge of recruitment practices was very narrow — sales in a financial services environment — so this has opened my eyes to the recruitment practices of companies with various foci, whether it be marketing, finance or accounting."
Last Updated: 10/29/12