The New Hire
Six suggestions to improve education and recruitment of entry level business professionals.
The study also listed internships as #1 in its list of campus activities, ahead of leadership positions, civic engagement and study abroad. Internships have emerged as the ideal means for companies and students to “test drive” each other prior to making a career decision.
Meaningful internships, where students are exposed to the various facets of the company operations and provided with real work, are the company’s best gateway to eventually hire the business student. Universities such as Washburn University promote internships, offer college credit in many situations, and make it easy on the employer. Internships, which once lasted a semester, have grown into open-ended internships whereby companies retain the best interns for multiple semesters until they graduate.
Recruiting Has Changed. Have You Kept Up? The days of hour-long on-campus interviews are not entirely a thing of the past, but other virtual locations are now much more prominent. Internet job postings on university career service and employer websites are mandatory. Student use of websites, such as Indeed.com, is growing too. Don’t panic. Face-toface contact is not gone yet. Many opportunities for face-to-face contact still exist on campus today, but you can’t rely solely upon it.
If you are a “known commodity” to students and have a track record in recruiting on campus, an advertised table (staffed with company personnel), in the School of Business lobby or a “mixer” in the evening in the union or at a local coffee shop or sports bar is a low-cost way to meet students. If you are a relatively unknown or smaller scale recruiter on campus, volunteering to speak to a class, presenting to a business club or having a table at the university career fair work better.
Getting young alumni (from the targeted university) who work for you involved as soon as possible is key. These steps serve to maximize your exposure to students. You still need to formally interview them. Don’t be shocked if your competition has already interviewed your #1 prospect digitally while you are trying to schedule them into your office.
Money Isn’t Everything. When you look at the most successful recruiters, you quickly see it is much more than just throwing money at students. In many cases, employee benefits are more important to students than the money. It is not hard for an accounting firm to capture the attention of an undergraduate when it tells her/him that the firm offers 20+ days off work annually, with pay, beginning in their first year of work. Now there are caveats that come with those days off, but I am not sure the student is listening when the caveats are discussed. Be as creative with benefits as you can.
Get Millennials to “Like” You. Millennials were raised on technology, providing a phenomena you can tap into. Young professionals today are well connected through social media to their friends, classmates, and the yetto-graduate cohorts at their school. If your company is viewed as a good place to work, everyone will soon know it. In those cases, you will find the hiring process at a specific university for a second position much easier than the first hire there.
Close the Gaps. In the university’s eyes, gaps observed by businesses of their employees in leadership, strategic thinking and execution, or change management involve high-level skills. Mastery of these skills are likely goals in most business degree programs. Other skill gaps such as planning, budgeting, forecasting, cost management, and internal financial reporting/ performance management are more closely associated with accounting programs. Often closing gaps can become part of a course objective if the gap is communicated to the university.
Communication between industry and university can easily occur through means such as companies participating on school advisory committees or by just meeting with school faculty and administration. They can obtain your input and give you feedback regarding the education of the next generation of business professionals. In business, all changes take time. To get something changed in academia, progress comes about slowly, and it often pays to be the squeaky wheel. Businesses need to be that squeaky wheel.
Adding a certificate or a degree program at your chosen university is not out of the question. Many times the largest impediment to accomplishing this is the university’s budget. Offers by industry to fund programs or endow scholarships or faculty chairs will help sell such programs when you get that sit-down meeting with the School of Business dean.
Washburn is Internship Central The primary reason behind the success of Washburn University’s internship program is that Washburn is in Topeka. Topeka is brimming with good financial and accounting employment, which is the core of our internship program. Topeka provides a cluster of headquarters—large public companies, small entrepreneurial startups and everything in between. Washburn also has the ability to annually send interns to Kansas City, Wichita, and other cities in the region. Below is a partial list of recent employers of Washburn interns:
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Capitol Federal Payless Shoes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Hill’s Pet Nutrition Advisors Excel Federal Home Loan Bank Security Benefit / se2 U.S. Bank McGladrey Westar Energy Briggs Auto Group KPMG Waddell and Reed Koch Industries The Sunflower Music Festival City of Topeka PwC BNSF KPERs BKD CPAs Berberich Trahan & Co. Mize Houser & Company Wendling Noe Nelson & Johnson CBIZ Douthett & Co CPA Steven A Ridpath, CPA PA SS&C Solutions, Inc. AGH CPAs & Advisors Stephen R Iliff CPA Myers & Stauffer Cummins & Coffman Topeka Tax Service KD Wallstreet Mortgage Advisors
Esmond Alleyne, MBA, CPAis a Lecturer at Washburn University, School of Business. He is the Former Vice President of Global Information Technology for Euro Africa Shared Services Organization at Colgate Palmolive Company.
James Martin, MPA, CPA is the Henrietta & G.W. Snyder Jr. Professorship in Business at Washburn University. He is a CPA and graduated from the University of Texas with an MPA. He completed a 22 year business career, retiring as the senior vice president of finance at Westar Energy.