A Day in the Life of an MBA Recruiter

KFoxby: Karen Fox, University and Recruiting Partnerships, Vanguard Human Resources

It’s close to 6am.

The sun is not quite up, but I’m greeted by an anxious dog and a mischievous cat. It’s as if they know know how to tell time. Who needs an alarm clock?  We take care of business.  First a quick walk, some morning chow and then the day begins.

Breakfast for me is a must, two bowls of cereal and a dessert.  Yes, dessert.  Who doesn’t have dessert with their breakfast? Next, it’s time to get my two teenagers out the door and off to school. After dropping them off I come back and check some email, both personal and work.  I want to make sure there is nothing hot that needs immediate attention.

After that I get a quick run in. If time is on my side and all is going well, I can do 4 or 5 miles.  If I’m rushed, I’m thrilled to get 3 miles in. When I get home, it’s time for  a quick shower, I pull my hair back, find a dress to suit the day and off I go!

As soon as I hit my desk after about an hour commute in the car and a catch up on the news of the day (thanks satellite radio), I have a quick huddle with my team and then head to meetings. My day is usually a blend of interactions – in-person management meetings, touch points with internal clients and conference calls with schools or organizational partners. On this particular day, my first meeting is a team calibration with senior leaders. It’s performance review season, and Vanguard is very focused on evaluating its crew fairly and equitably. It’s a great session with cross-functional leaders that helps to ensure people are recognized and rewarded appropriately.

After that, my next meeting is with an internal campus resource who “champions” MBA recruiting at one of our target schools. I need to inform him of our updated strategy, new marketing materials and adjusted recruiting approach for the season.  After that, I head to a special initiatives meetings. This year I’m the divisional Relationship Manager for the “Vanguard Gives Back” campaign, which is an organizational charitable giving program that raises over $7 million a year.  Usually around 2 or 3 p.m., I forget that I didn’t eat lunch and remember that I ran earlier in the morning so I indulge in a soft pretzel and/or tastykake and a piece of fruit at my desk. (Can you tell I’m from Philly? Lunch of champions!)

Later in the afternoon, I jump on a vendor call. We are exploring technology that will completely automate our university recruiting process, which means no more paper collection at campus events. I can’t wait!  More time savings and cost efficiencies.

My last meeting for the day is a summit planning meeting. I’m leading efforts around a Talent Acquisition Learning and Engagement Summit for 2017.  It’s been exciting work so far – lots of brainstorming around program content, key speakers and other team building ideas. Once 4 p.m. comes around,  I’m headed to class.  I teach a Professional Development Strategies class at Temple University. If I’m not headed to class, it’s usually an evening reception of networking with a school or other partner or a sporting event for my kids.

After a fun-filled day of work and activities, I look forward to getting home (typically around 8 p.m.) to be greeted by my furry friends, the dog and the cat. (Oh…by the way their names are Stella and George ,and I forgot to mention the kids names are Abigail and Walter – I have to work on putting them and the husband before the animals.)

When I get home I’m usually ravenous, so I eat much too late in the day. I guess everything somehow balances itself out. While eating we have family time, but it’s not traditional. All of us are grabbing something different to eat or snack on. We hang out in the kitchen checking email and tying up loose ends from the day while we talk about our special and sometimes frustrating moments. Believe me, if I asked the kids to do “family time” it wouldn’t happen, so what I’m talking about kind of happens organically. It’s my favorite time of the day.  The kids share so much, but it’s not forced. They are just doing their thing – homework, email, texting, etc., with no table rules and no required dining etiquette.

After we get everything out, my husband heads to work (yes, the graveyard shift), and we all race to our beds to rest and get ready for the next day – not before walking Stella one last time of course.  Admittedly, I lay in bed checking more email and scoping social media – definitely a no no, but I’m proud to say no TV for me.   I don’t really like it and I feel like I waste precious time.  So that’s it.  I wouldn’t just call this a typical day, I’d call it a near perfect day!

The Need for Collaboration

WTsungBy Wendy Tsung, Associate Dean MBA Career Services, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

A few months ago I had the pleasure of representing MBA CSEA at the AACSB Co-Lab: Connecting Business Schools with Practice conference in Atlanta. The conference was hosted by Erika James, Dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, board member of AACSB, a.k.a. my boss. This topic was chosen because AACSB membership, made up of mostly deans and program directors of business schools, believes that there is an increasing need for collaboration with the business community. Schools from as far away as Australia, India, and Thailand were present at this conference to discuss the need for better and more relevant collaboration, sharing best practices on successful partnerships in research, in the classroom, and on co-curricular activities to advance the goals of education and business.

The companies and business schools at the conference would all like more engagement and collaboration but believe that there are substantial barriers to accomplishing this. Companies want quick, relevant research that can inform or guide their decision making and have a bottom line impact. Researchers want deep, long-term studies on a focused and narrow research area that can be published in leading research journals. These goals and approaches are rarely aligned. While there are ways to engage companies in student experiential learning activities, broader faculty and corporate collaboration may be out of reach until business schools begin to change how the criteria used for faculty tenure evaluation, the faculty compensation structure, and how rankings publications evaluate the reputation of schools using publications in leading journals. Another challenge that was identified was finding the right person within the corporation and the school to contact and respond to these efforts for collaboration.

While many hurdles were surfaced regarding collaboration on knowledge creation and research, much more progress has been made in the classroom and on co-curricular activities. The corporate representatives shared the need for schools to develop not just the technical, hard or required skills but also the soft or differentiating skills around communication, curiosity, and adaptive thinking. These skills can be best practiced through experiential projects and engagement with solving current, corporate problems.

Of course, the members of the MBA CSEA already know the value of collaboration with businesses and live it on a daily basis. In fact, many of the deans and program administrators recognized that the career services office has many of the relationships with companies that the school can build on to expand their collaboration efforts. Career services already foster relationships with students and businesses to help each other realize their goals. There is an opportunity for career services to work in close partnership with other parts of our schools to build relationships and expand our collaboration efforts with companies for the entire school.


Farewell and Thank you to MBA CSEA President

MBACSEA-Day2-217As Damian Zikakis, Director of Career Services at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, concludes his second term as President of the MBA CSEA Board of Directors, we wanted to take this time to thank him and reflect on his service and contributions.

Damian has seen the organization through many changes, growing pains and milestones, including…

  • Record attendance at our International conferences in Asia and Europe and continued growth at our Global Conference
  • Brand new Regional Forums in cities such as London and San Francisco
  • Ongoing webinars that pushed the envelope in both size and scope
  • A Vendor Standards Compliance Program to ensure our members that technology providers are producing Standards-compliant reports
  • A new partnership with AACSB to expand and enhance employment data collection and research
  • Expansion of staffing resources with the addition of our Administrative Assistant and Standards Consultant
  • Increased knowledge and thought leadership across the industry

This kind of growth requires a strong leader and continuous focus on results. Below are just a few reflections some of the board members have about Damian:

“Damian, as President of the MBA CSEA board you have been a great conciliator. I never saw you losing your composure during our discussions and you always found a way to steer our group towards a constructive solution. I am really glad that you will continue working with us!”

“Damian has been amazing to work with.  He’s fun to hang out with, great to talk things through with when there are issues and he’s always willing to help.  He will be missed as President.”

“Damian is a natural leader who puts a great deal of thought and effort into the decisions he makes. He always encourages us to consider all perspectives and stakeholders before taking action. He has been a pleasure to work with.”

DZikakisbowtie“The best dressed president who rocks a bow tie!”

Damian, we appreciate everything you have done for the organization and look forward to your continued service. And, keep rockin’ the bow tie!


How MBA CSEA got me more money, more time and more staff. (Or: In my day, we didn’t have AUP.)

MBACSEA-Day2-180by: Jamie Belinne, Assistant Dean, Rockwell Career Center
C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston

MBA CSEA President and Founder Jamie Belinne reflects on MBA CSEA’s roots and how far we’ve come.

When I first got into MBA career services back in the early 90s, it was a fairly small, but growing community of frustrated and overworked professionals whose lives were dominated by unrealistic expectations from Deans, unreasonable survey questions from the media, and giant MBA recruiting budgets.  So you’re probably thinking, “not much has changed except the recruiting budgets.”  But you’re wrong.

Have you ever said to your kids, “When I was your age, I had to go to the library and check microfiche, so don’t complain about your wifi problems.”?   That’s how I feel when people complain about the challenges of MBA career services today.

Let me tell you about walking to school uphill both ways (with bricks tied to our feet for warmth) prior to MBA CSEA …

When I first got to UT-Austin in 1992, they handed me a team of two people, one of whom was a faculty spouse placement with no work experience and the other was a full-time actor/yoga instructor.  We served 900 full-time MBAs and 300 campus recruiters.  Oh, and we were doing resume drops manually with weekly FedEx shipments of resumes to employers.  The entire process was manual.  (Yay!  Lots of late night bonding time for the team!)  Every rankings media outlet asked different questions about our outcomes, and we never knew what they would ask, so most of the time the data they wanted didn’t even exist.  So for many schools, (not mine, of course, right?) the Dean or Communications Director would just . . . make something up!  <gasp!>  And the invented number became your new baseline to beat in future data collections.  (Yay!  Manual data collection, too!!)  And if the real number wasn’t as good as the invented number the following year, and if coincidentally your school dropped a place or two in the rankings, then guess what position was blamed?  That’s right.  Career center directors around the country were constantly being fired as sacrificial lambs to the media rankings gods just prior to satisfaction surveys being sent to graduating classes.  (“Yes, we know our school was imperfect, but it was clearly career services’ fault, so we fired them all and fixed the problem.  Remember that when you complete your satisfaction surveys that help us in the rankings!”)

The first few gatherings of career center directors in the early days before MBA CSEA reminded me of what it must have been like during the advent of a new religion being formed.  The 30 or so schools in the Top 20 (you know who you are), had annual meetings, but for most schools, it was unofficial meetings in dark corners at NACE, AACSB or GMAC to compare notes and provide emotional support.  We were all like-minded, but we needed to carry our messages of consistency, transparency, professionalism, ethics and accountability to the masses (or at least to the Deans and the rankings).  NACE turned us away, because they didn’t see a real need for what we were doing.  (Seriously, it was so much like “No room at the Inn” that I just have to go back to my new religion analogy.)

Fortunately, both GMAC and AACSB saw value in what we wanted to accomplish, and they were wonderful partners in helping us organize, focus and then promote our message to their members and the world (or at least the media).  They even helped us host our first few conferences and hired the consultant that walked us through the incorporation process.  We wouldn’t be where we are now without the support both groups provided us in the early days.

Fast forward more than 20 years and it’s a brand new profession, whether or not you realize it.  It may seem extreme to say that MBA CSEA has done for MBA career services and recruitment what the internet has done for my kids’ homework, but I’m sticking to that story.  The Standards for reporting and the AUP process have given me the legitimacy and authority to have more autonomy and resources to collect and analyze our employment data completely and accurately.  Nobody messes with my numbers, because now somebody is (finally) paying attention to how schools all do this.

The CSEA benchmarking reports have allowed me to grow my staff levels and my budgets, because I can show HR and the Provost’s Office how our staffing and spending compares to other schools.  But most importantly, we’re no longer having secret meetings in dark corners of other groups’ events.  We are a recognized and respected profession with three annual conferences around the world and a strong organization to support us.  How cool is that?  When I talk to the founders of the group, we’re all thrilled, and somewhat amazed, that this has come as far as it has.

I used to spend hours agonizing and researching how to help students who wanted to work in specific areas of the world where I had no experience or expertise.  Now I can e-mail a member from that region to ask for their advice – and they’re happy to share their ideas with me!  I love that when a department chair surprises me with a new degree program to support (that never happens, right?), I can call up friends around the country to see how they’re marketing and placing that degree program at their schools.  (Or sometimes I can just sit on the phone with them and cry or laugh, depending on how far I’ve fallen into complete hysteria.)  Best of all, the organization provides not only a great resource for recruiting new leaders in my organization, but also an ideal way to train my new hires.  And all of this is while we’re networking with employers and career services professionals to learn best practices that make my life easier and my efforts more effective.  And I haven’t even mentioned the networking benefits of karaoke!

By the way, nobody ever asked me to hire a yoga instructor to do MBA career counseling again, because they take the work we do way too seriously now.*  So, thanks to MBA CSEA, we all lived happily ever after (except for the recruiting budgets, which would still be nice to have back at their 1990s levels).

*(Note to yoga instructors: I’m not disrespecting you.  I’m a former aerobics instructor (Yay 1980s!).  But seriously, that was the only paid work experience the guy had.)

Not enough time to deliver your MBA career curriculum? Low student attendance at workshops? Use a Slingshot!

Isabella PinucciBy: Isabella Pinucci, SDA Bocconi School of Management

This is one of the reasons I have been crossing the Atlantic every June for the past three years to attend the MBA CSEA Global Conference: to be inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness of fellow career service practitioners.

This great session delivered by Julia Zupko of the Yale School of Management impressed all attendees, who left their business cards to receive additional info about the ‘Slingshot’ project.  With 650 full-time MBA students, Julia and her team have been experiencing lately some “pain points” in their career curriculum delivery: time and facilities constraints, decreasing attendance, lack of confirmation/ measurement of effective learning. Sounds familiar? (Yes, I feel that pain too!)

And here is their Slingshot solution: a hybrid career curriculum. Julia realized that students prefer on-demand learning tools they can access 24/7, plus some interactive live sessions with career experts where they can apply and customize what they learned to their individual situation.

The Yale team created a series of videos which illustrate the fundamentals of career management, from CV’s and cover letters to competency-based interviews. The videos are entirely home made but look absolutely professional, featuring students, professors, recruiters and career advisors as actors and speakers. At the end of each video module, students take a test to check their learning, and when successful they can attend a live lab. This way students have all the flexibility they need to master the curriculum, and career advisors get to spend more quality time with them.

That was a big project – it took 7 months for the team to complete it – but I bet it was worth the effort. It would be interesting to measure the results a couple of years down the line. Brilliant, innovative and inspirational. Brava Julia!

The Effect of the Brexit on Career Services

LBerkowitzby: Lara Berkowitz, Executive Director – Career Centre, London Business School

I thought 2007/2008 might be the defining moment in my career services career, but now I am helming a career services ship through the Brexit storm. Although the word uncertainty can send a frisson of nervous energy through any Director, what is happening in the UK at the moment is also a strangely exhilarating front row seat to history.

At the moment, the situation here is really a moving feast with just one week elapsing since the epic vote. Uncertainty creates short-term shocks, but it is much too early to know what the real impact will be.  There is this odd period at the moment where absolutely nothing has changed in reality yet behavioural economics have taken over and there is complete uncertainty. Next come the negotiations. Still no certain change. It is only at the point negotiations end and decisions are made – which could be more than 2 years from now – that certainty will return. As career services professionals, that is daunting but exciting, and forces us to practice what we preach to students trying to navigate a VUCA world.

The 2-year countdown may not even start until we get some political stability – as I write this Boris Johnson has just pulled out of the Prime Minister race! Feels like House of Cards come to life. So for now, we are focused on keeping students engaged and resilient while trying to get as much accurate market intelligence as we can.

From the employer side there is very little, if any, formal statement at the moment. Thankfully there are no reports of rescinded offers, although some late ad hoc recruitment processes (on top of an already robust year) have been put on hold. It is possible we won’t have any further concrete information until September as we start to see how the Autumn recruitment calendar is building and what is happening with offers for summer interns.

Frankly, I think most employers were genuinely shocked. As of June 30, a rolling poll of organisations conducted by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Professional Development) showed that 56.38% of 1,880 respondents answered “Not at all – it took us by surprise” to the question: “How prepared was your organisation for the “leave” decision in the UK’s EU Referendum”. Only 10.11% were “very prepared with a contingency plan in place” while 33.51% had just “discussed possible implications.”

On the student side, we are proud to have a truly multi-cultural community with 92% international students on the MBA. There are no immediate changes to the immigration status of current and prospective EU students, and while this issue will take some time to resolve, I am hopeful that the ability to maintain the rich diversity of the UK’s higher ed institutions and workforce will be at the top of the list of negotiations. As for those students still seeking employment, we are focused on standard advice regarding career transitions during times of uncertainty – stay in the moment, be proactive, be flexible.

So it truly is too early to tell and thankfully there have been no knee-jerk reactions yet from employers or students. As a School, we just celebrated our 50th anniversary and are feeling especially agile, having adapted to and thrived on many political, social and economic changes over these last 50 years.

The Importance of Volunteers

socialmediapicby: Megan Hendricks, Executive Director, MBA CSEA

As our annual business meeting and Global Conference comes to a close and we near the end of our fiscal year, we always take this time to think back on what we’ve accomplished as an association. Taking a look at our 2015/2016 Annual Report, we’ve done a lot!

26622046262_12a62168a4_kWe hosted three major conferences on three continents, with over 600 combined attendees – in addition to three Regional Forums and 10 webinars. We conducted three major research projects, partnered with GMAC on the Corporate Recruiters Survey, maintained and promoted the Standards for Reporting MBA Employment Data and continued our partnership with AACSB for employment data collection. Our online community is thriving with 700 members and weekly discussions, and we recently launched a mobile app for the community. We awarded the Mel Penn New Member Service Award to three hard-working individuals, increased our social media footprint, and launched a new Ambassador Club to continue to grow our membership.

MBACSEA 2016 Picture Conor McCabe Photography

None of this would have been possible without our volunteers. When we say volunteers are the lifeblood of the association, that’s an understatement! 170 people devoted their time and talent to this alliance during the past year, going above and beyond the daily responsibilities of their full-time jobs to contribute to the organization they love. I am constantly in awe of the amount of work and dedication our volunteers put in day in and day out, and their importance to the organization cannot be underestimated. From the Committee Chairs who manage large and small teams to execute major programs and events, to the people who help with on-site registration at the conferences – each and every person is an integral part of the team, without whom we would not be able to function.

MBACSEA-Day2-70I often receive comments about how passionate I am about the association and the work I do, to which I respond: “How can I not be?” When I look around me at the collective knowledge, experience, talent and passion our volunteers are putting in, how can I not respond with the same amount of passion and dedication?

Put quite simply, you all inspire me. Thank you for your time and effort. Thank you to the MBA CSEA Family.