A quick show of hands from those of you in university career centers: Who has a traditional career services background? Who has transitioned from corporate?
This question was asked quite a bit at the MBA CSC conference in Seattle last month. Hiring career changers from the private sector to work in student-facing positions has been common practice for awhile now at schools whose career offices are large enough to allow for segmenting student advising roles by business function. The logic is, if you have a large number of students going into fields like investment banking, consulting, or brand management, it makes sense to have alumni of companies like Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, and Proctor & Gamble on your staff. Certainly students love getting information from such reliable sources, and the career office garners some additional respect, at least temporarily, from having an additional tie to illustrious employers.
Seeing this happen has made me wonder whether business school career services will move in the direction of law schools, where getting a job in the career office nearly always necessitates a JD and legal experience. But let’s not discount just yet those formally trained in career development. Two quite compelling sessions at the conference forced me, as a director, to think hard about how well my office was addressing—or not addressing—the topic of self-assessment by incoming MBA students. Arlene Hill and Jennifer Murphy of American University’s Kogod School explained how by purposely slowing down the internship recruiting process for their first year MBA students, requiring them to complete a battery of assessments as part of their career management course, and actively using applicable career development theories they saw an immediate one-year increase of 16% in summer internship participation, and 27% in full time job offers, for the first class who completed the new career services delivery. They are forecasting the two-year increase to be in the 30-40% range. Salaries have gone up, too. And Georgetown’s Doreen Amorosa worked with Susan Whitcomb, CEO of The Academies, Inc., to put her McDonough School career staff through International Coach Federation-certified training, which has resulted in both improved student satisfaction and improved employment outcomes.
Clearly those with formal training in career development have something vital to offer, and personally I’m going to be taking a hard look at how we work with incoming MBAs with regard to self-assessment. During my recent hiring binge I have been careful to make sure we have a mix of backgrounds among our advising staff so that everyone can learn from one another. My thanks to all who presented at the conference for demonstrating best practices for deploying these diverse skill sets!