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The Job Hunt: How We Got Hired

Students share what worked for them

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BU Today wraps up our annual series for graduating seniors and others looking for a job, offering info, advice, and real-life accounts of how to go about finding a job. Monday, Benjamin Bailey, employment manager of Boston’s Omni Parker House, talked about the do’s and don’ts of job hunting. Tuesday, we featured advice from experts on campus about how best to prepare for a job hunt, what to do if you can’t find a job immediately, and whether delaying the job search in favor of graduate school makes sense. Yesterday, we examined the ways social media can help and hurt job applicants and the importance of developing a personal online brand. Today, we talk to three graduating seniors who have already found jobs to find out their strategy for a successful job campaign.

One is graduating with a College of Engineering bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering. Another with a degree in accounting from the School of Management. And the third is leaving the University with a degree in international relations from the College of Arts & Sciences. What do these three seniors have in common? Each has already found a job.

Brianna Nelson (ENG’12) will soon begin working at General Electric’s healthcare division in the two-year Operations Management Leadership Program (OMLP). The program consists of four six-month-long rotations and enables Nelson to take on different positions, ranging from a manufacturing engineer to a supervisor managing a factory floor, before choosing her desired career path. Nelson will begin in Milwaukee, Wisc., but eventually have the opportunity to work for GE at various locations across the country.

Evan Gross (CGS’10, SMG’12) has accepted a job at major accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he will work as an investment management tax associate in New York City. Some of his future clients include JPMorganChase, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse.

Katie Klyng (CAS’12) will begin a job as assistant canvass director with the Fund for the Public Interest, in Austin, Tex. She’ll be responsible for managing between 30 and 50 volunteers, teaching them how to canvass, as well as handling some administrative duties. Klyng was actually fortunate enough to have had two job offers before graduation.

 

BU Today recently sat down with the three to talk about their job hunt strategy and what tips they have for classmates just embarking on their employment search.

BU Today: You three have already landed jobs. How did you do it?
Nelson: It was a long process. I started researching companies the summer before my senior year just to figure out what I was looking for. From there I knew I was interested in leadership development programs. As an engineer, I wasn’t looking into a technical role at an operation level; I was interested in getting into management—those types of jobs give you good visibility for upper level management and allow you to play a lot of roles in a short number of years. And I knew that I wanted to work for a large company. Based on that, I looked at which companies BU had a relationship with, who was coming to interview on campus, and who was coming to BU’s Career Fairs.

Gross: I interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) over last summer, and by the end of August, I was offered a full-time job, so I’ve had the whole year to not worry about this. I majored in accounting and I knew that the major accounting firms turn their interns into employees about 90 percent of the time. For me, I knew that the easiest way to get into these companies was through an internship. I focused by asking: what do I want to do and what are the best companies that do this? I looked into different ones, knowing that the top four allow you to work internationally, including PwC, which is a terrific firm.

Klyng: I know it sounds trite, but I really took advantage of everything at the Center for Career Development—the workshops, the Career Fairs, their open hours. I still wouldn’t have had a job if it weren’t for them.

How long did it take before you got offers?
Nelson: GE came to campus in the fall, and I had my first round of interviews over the phone in mid-October. From there, they flew me out to the healthcare headquarters to interview, and then they passed my name to OMLP specifically. They offered me the job at the end of November. Throughout the semester, I was interviewing for different positions, and GE was actually the last interview that I had, but it was the offer I ended up taking.

Gross: It took a while. From the beginning, it was about learning how to get an SMG-style cover letter and résumé. Accounting firms do their recruiting in the fall for summer interns, so I applied for my internship at PwC in early October 2010, and was offered the full-time internship just before Thanksgiving. I consider the process—cover letters, résumés, landing the internship—to be about three to three and a half months.

Klyng: I felt like it took forever. But in reality it only took about a month of intensive work to complete everything. I worked at it every day, updating my résumé for the specific jobs I was applying for and researching the companies I was applying to.

The interviews went very quickly. With the Center for the Public Interest job, the day I went to BU’s Career Fair, they set up interviews for me on the spot and in the next few days I went to their office in downtown Boston. I basically interviewed with a regional director, then a nationwide manager, and about a week after that I got the call that I got the job.

What are the biggest mistakes job searchers make?
Nelson: Not being confident. It sounds really simple, but I think you can have the best GPA, the most padded résumé, but employers won’t remember you if you don’t believe in yourself. Also, make sure you have an elevator speech—your 30-second speech on who you are and what you’re looking for. You never know who you’re going to be sitting next to on a plane or on the T.

Gross: The easiest mistake you can make is to start too late. You have to start well before you get to senior year. You have to have done an internship or two or volunteered, because you have to do enough to make yourself a great candidate. You have 4,000 people graduating at BU alone, and remember, there are so many other schools in this city. I would say that now more than ever, there’s nothing more important than networking—using BU’s terrific BU alumni network, using parents’ friends. They’re not going to hand a job to you, but getting the inside scoop is huge.

Klyng: Not keeping an open mind, especially if you have a liberal arts degree. You need to be flexible. I think a lot of my fellow graduates think that if they don’t get a job right away, they can go straight to graduate school, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Career counselors I’ve talked to say even graduate schools are looking for some job experience from applicants, so graduate school shouldn’t be your safety pick.

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give graduating seniors?
Nelson: I think the most important thing is to hone your networking skills. I think a lot of things fall under that category. I used every resource I could: professors for job advice, the Center for Career Development, BU’s networking nights, different conferences. I went to networking nights even as an underclassman, and even though I wasn’t looking for a position. It gave me the experience to talk with people in the field and it gave me the confidence for future interviews.

Gross: I would say it’s to know what direction you want to go in. Too often you find people who say, ‘I’ll take any job.’ I don’t think that works. There are too many companies. You need to go in a direction. I understand it’s difficult with the economy, but once you identify your direction, you can reach out to alumni and identify what companies are looking for. Do something different, because if you don’t, how can you stand out? There are so many people pushing the “apply” button.

Klyng: Just keep in mind that you won’t get your dream job right off the bat. I didn’t even get interviews for some of the jobs I applied to. I felt let down at first, but then I started looking at the job descriptions and realized that many of the jobs probably required a master’s degree, and I only had my bachelor’s. It’s kind of like college—apply to safety schools too. Every job is a learning experience.

Also, definitely tailor your résumé’s objective to the specific job you’re applying for.

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu. Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

5 Comments
Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

5 Comments on The Job Hunt: How We Got Hired

  • yeah on 05.13.2012 at 11:34 pm

    Fund for Public Interest = borderline scam job

    I don’t know anyone who has ever worked for any of the PIRG organizations (as a canvasser or organizer) and any less than hated it. Plus I cannot stand when people ask me for money on the street when they are not homeless.

    This is the type of job going to BU will get you?

    • anon on 05.14.2012 at 2:46 pm

      she was an IR major, and it’s her first job out of college, what do you expect? The other two are working for GE and PwC, both of which are pretty impressive.

    • anonymous on 11.05.2012 at 12:12 am

      yep. I worked for The Fund as a Campaign Director, and I quit after two months, because I was working seven days a week and 80 – 90 hrs as well. Crazy! I felt that I was being used, and that I didn’t have a direct impact on the issues we were working so hard to fundraise for.

      • anonymous on 11.05.2012 at 12:19 am

        I felt bad for the students who were supposedly hired for the summer, as many of them were fired in the first week if they didn’t make their quota for fundraising. This isn’t how people learn in the non-profit sector. Though the successful ones, if they can stick it out, can make it. Look at President Obama, one of his first jobs was working at PIRGs. Just one perspective.

  • Steve Schuit on 05.29.2012 at 11:53 am

    I think Yeah’s earlier comment about PIRG and the implication that a BU education should get you a better job is missing the forest for the trees. My first job out of BU (albeit years ago) was in the Peace Corps. That volunteer position changed my life for the better in countless ways. I say, “Go-for-it Katie!”

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