Why Differences Are Everything When It Comes to Recruiting Top Talent

by Kenneth Bouyer, EY Americas Diversity & Inclusiveness Recruiting Leader

Swinging the door open to recruit top, diverse talent is important, but what’s more important is ensuring that the culture behind that door is one that is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive. At EY, our diversity and inclusiveness recruiting strategy is comprehensive. From differences in gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, work experience, physical ability, and military status, we are always improving our efforts to attract the best talent with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences that can thrive in our culture.

It’s not a mystery that diversity in professional services is an overarching problem; however, we know in order to achieve the best outcomes for our clients, we need to engage diverse students. In fact, research from professors at University of Michigan and McGill University, respectively, shows that multicultural teams, when managed well, tend to be more creative and innovative, and produce the best results for clients. At EY, we have also seen first-hand how diverse teams perform better and help us create more innovative solutions for clients, so the goal of our inclusiveness recruiting program is to inspire students who are different.

So how do we make sure we are driving diversity and access? Through collaborations with universities, we are able to raise awareness of our industry with high school students by providing them with unique EY opportunities and programs throughout their academic careers. We focus on the university level to help change the landscape and increase the pool of diverse students while fostering an inclusive atmosphere so students are better prepared to enter the global work force. We also create specific programs that address every part of the recruiting pipeline, particularly areas where we sometimes lose candidates for a number of reasons. In order for our efforts to be sustainable, it requires that every one of our recruiters and hiring managers think, act, and recruit inclusively.

I’m proud of our results this year. We hired more than 1,400 African-American and Hispanic students from campuses—up 40 percent from last year, we also hosted events such as our Women in Tech Consulting Conference exposing dozens of undergraduate and graduate students to the exceptional opportunities we offer, while hearing from several dynamic female leaders. EY also participated in the first Queer Women in Business Summit hosted by Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA), an organization we sponsor that educates and inspires LGBT MBA students at business schools nationwide. Additionally, we hired 300 veterans—an increase of over 75 percent from last year—and increased our Launch Internship Program (a multi-year program that focuses on underrepresented ethnic minority students who are business majors and are at least two years from graduation)—participation by more than 30 percent this year. We also continue to sponsor and participate in Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD).

And while we are continuously evaluating and measuring our program to see where we can improve, we are delighted with the recognition we have received along the way—from both our EY people and third parties. Internally, our 2014 Global People Survey tells us that more of our women and U.S. ethnic minorities felt that they have the flexibility to achieve their personal and professional goals when compared to our 2013 results. There was also notably higher feedback for several top factors that drive engagement that tell us things are moving in the right direction including, “I feel my contributions are valued,” and “I feel free to be myself.”

We are also particularly thrilled to be recognized for our efforts by NACE with the 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award. Being acknowledged for this special award is a testament to our focus on continuing to advance and nurture diversity and inclusiveness in our recruiting and hiring strategies. As we look to the year ahead, we will continue to work hard to increase the pipeline of ethnic minority students majoring in accounting, as well as broaden our initiatives to attract underrepresented minority talent to professional services. We will also continue to foster a culture where opinions matter, meaningful conversations are encouraged and our people always feel free to be themselves, as that is what truly drives engagement and helps us to achieve success.

For more information on EY’s diversity recruiting, please click here.

NACE is accepting submissions for the 2016 NACE Awards program from November 14, 2016, through January 31, 2017. Finalists for NACE Awards will be notified in the spring, and winners will be announced during the NACE 2017 Conference & Expo in June in Las Vegas.
Ken Bouyer

Kenneth Bouyer, EY Americas Diversity & Inclusiveness Recruiting Leader

Ken is the EY Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting. In this role, he is responsible for developing and implementing the global EY organization’s recruiting strategy to build and attract diverse and inclusive talent pools for member firms in the Americas.

Avoiding a Renege by Building a Relationship

by Susan Brennan

It’s a job seeker’s market for college students, with many returning from a summer internship with a job offer in hand—long before graduation. It’s a rosy scenario, except for the challenges it poses for both sides: Students are against the clock to accept or bow out gracefully, and employers are challenged to hold a new hire’s attention for nine months. But I have seen some creative and smart ways to avoid a renege.

A lot of companies are building retention plans that include multiple touch points from the time of the offer to the time a new employee actually fills the seat. It may be a simple gesture—sending a care package during final exams or a holiday card—or a larger commitment such as a monthly dinner. Either way, it’s about building a welcoming community from day one. Here’s what some of our corporate partners do to keep new hires in the pipeline:

Build purposeful relationships.

At PricewaterhouseCoopers, all new hires and interns are assigned a relationship partner, career coach, and peer coach. The relationship partner develops a trusting relationship with the new hire, provides insight on demonstrating high performance, and communicates the value of the PwC experience. The career coach proactively schedules time to meet with the new hire, provides ongoing career counseling, and communicates the importance of developing leadership skills. The peer coach establishes a relationship with the new hire so the individual can quickly feel comfortable contacting them with questions, supports their productivity by assisting them with tools needed to immediately begin adding value, and helps acclimate the new hire to the firm.

Hold networking events.

Networking programs provide a more casual opportunity to get to know colleagues and other new hires. Bentley students who have accepted or have an outstanding offer from Liberty Mutual, for example, are invited to attend “LMI Peer Connections.” It’s a platform to network and ask questions about career opportunities and decisions. (And free food is always a hit with college students.)

Get social.

Setting up an app or using social media is an easy way to keep candidates in touch with what’s going on at your company, and to allow them to ask questions. (I’ve see this as particularly useful if someone is relocating.) Using technology to bridge the gap is something that students are comfortable with, as they can do it on their own time: in the dorm room, on the bus, or in the cafeteria.

Create experiences.

Today’s candidates care about experiences. When EY has done campus recruiting at my university, for example, they’ve brought along a petting zoo. (Yes, real chicks, bunnies, and even a little pig). Some companies will make an offer over dinner at a nice restaurant. Whenever you get the chance to create experiences—big or small—do it. Taking the time to go that extra mile won’t go unnoticed. 

Be flexible.

If you have your heart set on a new hire, you may need to be willing to accommodate requests. If a candidate wants to accept an offer but already had plans to first spend six months after graduation doing meaningful work like Teach America, for example, perhaps it’s possible to defer a start date. You may even find ways to tie the experience into your company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Now some tips you can pass on to job seekers

Candidates can also follow some simple rules of thumb to help them decide whether an offer is right for them. (These may also be useful for employers to look at the other side.)

Do some soul searching.

At Bentley, our students actually begin the “soul searching” process during freshman year; but it’s still an ongoing, lifelong process. Identify your interests, passions, and personality. What’s going to keep you inspired and getting out of bed each day for work? Differentiate between logistical aspects of a job offer—salary, health benefits—and other opportunities like culture, mentors, educational reimbursement, and professional memberships. (Try to get away from expectations placed on you by family and friends.) 

Review the offer with career services.

Once you get a verbal or written offer, make an appointment with a career services professional at your school. They can review compensation and benefits, address any concerns, and discus appropriate next steps. (They can also guide you on offer etiquette—whether accepting or declining an offer—as most schools have policies on both.) 

Set (or re-set) your priorities.

Just because an employer didn’t pop open a bottle of expensive champagne during your job offer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value your work. Companies have different policies they need to follow. Step back and think about the big picture: Is the company culture a good fit? Do they offer great benefits? Is there opportunity to grow? 

Ask for an extension.

If you aren’t sure whether to accept or reject an offer, companies are typically sensitive to giving you time to make an informed decision. If you have a month or two, for example, take that time to explore what else is out there. In the end, employers will respect the time you took in making a well-thought decision. But, remember, deadlines are set to give employers time to reach out to other candidates, so the sooner you break the news, the better for everyone. 

Have difficult conversations.

A student came to me with a job offer in hand; he loved the company but not the actual job he was offered. In a case like this, it’s okay to talk with the employer and explain that you would love to work for them, but perhaps in a different role. Just be sure not to wait until the last minute or send an e-mail. Pick up the phone and have a candid, respectful conversation. (A career services professional can guide you through these kinds of conversations.) 

One last note to employers.

In the end, a renege is sometimes unavoidable—and could even be a blessing in disguise: If a new hire has reservations about accepting the job, they will likely show up unhappy and may end up not performing well if their head isn’t in the game. 

The reality is that it’s a new world order and talented candidates are driving corporate strategy. But retaining the best and brightest during these competitive times is possible. Be solutions oriented, and you’ll negotiate a mutual win.

susan brennanSusan Brennan, Associate Vice President for University Career Services, Bentley University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susansandlerbrennan
Twitter: @BentleyCareerSB
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bentleycareer/?fref=ts
Website:  http://careeredge.bentley.edu/

Learning Through Heavy Lifting

by Tenley Halaquist

Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a unique professional development event. Usually educational trainers attend conferences, webinars, or read articles for professional development, but this time I was expected to learn through a more physical means. The event is called GoRuck Tough. Rucking is a verb meaning “to put weight on your back and go for a walk.”  During the GoRuck Tough, you are expected to carry at least 30 lbs. (if you weigh over 150yes that is me) and hike for 15 to 20 miles over a 10- to 12-hour time span. The event I attended started June 24 at 9 p.m. and went until June 25, 9 a.m. There were 15 of us in the class.

starting with situps

 

Participants are “welcomed” with a series of exercises, including pushups, butterfly kicks, and burpees.

 

 

The event—designed to improve communication skills—started out with a “welcome party” which was pretty much military-style boot camp. We learned different casualty carries, crawls, and did plenty of push-ups, butterfly kicks, and burpees. Our first mission after the welcome party was to carry casualties using the fireman’s carry technique from one destination to the next in a certain time. Unfortunately, as a team we did not complete the mission, therefore we had a punishment exercise. Punishment exercises were expected after all unsuccessful missions.

burpeedemo

A burpee demonstration. Burpees are a combination of a squat that kicks into a pushup and ends with the participant standing.

 

The next mission was to complete 75 pull-ups as a team in an allotted time limit. We completed this task ahead of schedule.

After a nice brisk walk with my crew, we were asked by our cadre (GoRuck leader who is/was a leader in the armed forces and who communicates our missions) to stand aside while he looks for our “friend.” Upon his return, we then had to complete the hardest mission—carry a huge log found next to railroad tracks 2.5 miles through the city of Albany. This was a humbling experience for sure! For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting Albany, it is on a hill. We had to carry this huge log up a hill through the middle of the city to get to our destination.

log lifting and carry

 

The group finds a log by the railroad tracks, then has to lift and carry the log uphill through Albany.

 

 

Our next mission was to find a target under the allotted time. Once the target was found (a fountain), we had to get in the fountain and complete water burpees until the cadre was satisfied. Following this activity, we then had another casualty mission. We needed to carry a casualty using a stretcher made of rope to our next destination in a time cap. We completed with flying colors. We then had a similar mission to the last where we needed to carry casualties using the rope stretcher method. Only this time, we had two casualties, the casualties needed to rotate every block, everyone had to be carried at least twice, and communication could not be used. The reason communication was taken away was to mimic silent attack missions in the military where they need to capture a target without anyone knowing. Unfortunately, we did not make it to our destination in time, so we had a punishment exercise (100 burpees).

 

middle of the night demoThe cadre was explaining the importance of effective communication and was sharing real life examples from his military career because we did not execute our first mission. We then had to perform our punishment exercise: 100 burpees.

We then walked a few miles with no mission and came upon a couple of military monuments. Our cadre talked about each one and gave us time to really look at them. After the last monument, we had one more mission to complete. We needed to carry five casualties using the fireman’s carry to our starting point under a time constraint. The casualties were to never touch the ground. We completed the mission by the skin of our teeth and did not have to complete the grueling “after party.” The “after party” is similar to the “welcome party,” but much worse.

After our group picture, we received our GoRuck Tough patches, hugged each other, and went our separate ways.

done

 

Finishing at daylight, group members hug each other and head home.

 

 

Our group walked a total of 18 miles. The whole purpose of the event was to work as a team, use effective communication techniques, and strengthen mentality. We learned that communication is crucial in completing tasks and that everyone may not understand the way your communication has been relayed. We constantly had to state and restate what we were doing in different ways to get everyone on board. We also learned that a human body is an incredible thing. Your body can withstand pretty much anything; you just need to train your mind to think the same thing.

Now you are probably wondering how this translates to my career at NACE. We communicate with people every day to make sure our events run smoothly and successfully. To do this, our communication needs to be precise and accurate so that everyone knows what we need done. Perseverance, persistence, and grit are some other qualities emphasized in this training. When one way did not work, we thought of other ways to complete our tasks. At NACE, we always have to think on our feet, keep options available, and keep pushing until we get it right. Again, this was a different professional development opportunity and I am glad I was able to learn so much from it.

Editor’s note: Tenley went on vacation after her GoRuck Tough experience.

Tenley HalaquistTenley Halaquist, M.Ed.
NACE Professional Development Associate

 

Fewer Trophies, More Responsibility: How Gen Z Will Change Universities and the Workplace

by Lindsey Pollak

Just when we finally feel as though we have a handle on what millennials want in the workplace, along comes Generation Z (those born around the turn of the millennium and later) with its fresh perspective. To follow up on my presentation at NACE in June, I wanted to share some insights that will help savvy career centers and employers adapt as this generation heads toward your offices.

Gen Z Is Entrepreneurial

There is a persistent myth about “entrepreneurial millennials.” The fact is that millennials as a group are not all that entrepreneurial, but their younger siblings are: While 43 percent of college students (i.e., millennials) say they want to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee, 61 percent of high-school students (i.e., Gen Zers) say the same. More than half of Gen Zers say they were encouraged by their parents to seek early employment, and many responded by starting their own companies. They sell crafts on Etsy, build websites for small businesses and rake in cash for clever YouTube videos.

Key Takeaway

In order to attract and retain Gen Z employees, companies need to be cognizant of the need to feed this spirit by offering frequent rotational assignments and early leadership experiences. Universities will need to offer entrepreneurial training along with coaching for entrepreneurial career paths.

Gen Z Is Resourceful

These digital natives have grown up with the ability to answer their own questions — fast. They’ve always had a smartphone in their pocket, so they don’t sit around wondering what time spin class is or what’s trending on Instagram; they just look it up. They are also a generation that hasn’t experienced widespread “helicopter” parenting, since their Gen X parents have a different parenting philosophy than many millennials’ baby boomer parents. According to research, Generation Z places heavy emphasis on being “mature and in control.”

Key Takeaway

Employers need to expect that Gen Z employees might take assignments into their own hands, without waiting for explicit directions. On the one hand, these self-starters may inject a new energy into the workplace; on the other, you might have to make sure there are safeguards in place so they stay on track when needed. For example, make sure they are clear on communication protocols so they don’t just fire off questions to clients if you’d prefer they check with you first.

Gen Z Is Visual

The fewer words the better for the emoticon and Snapchat generation. This cohort responds to images rather than text—think Instagram versus Twitter—and is most at home juggling multiple screens.

Key Takeaway

Recycle your existing employee manuals, recruitment brochures and training materials. If a picture used to be worth 1,000 words, with Generation Z it’s worth ALL the words. This generation expects to absorb your message visually and instantly, and in a wide variety of mediums. (Note: This doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t read books or longer form content; but more visual messages are best when you want to catch their attention.)

Gen Z Is Financially Cautious

Gen Z grew up in the painful aftermath of 9/11 and the financial crisis. Since this group didn’t experience the boom years of peace and prosperity that the millennials did, they have a more similar worldview to Gen X, who came of age during the uncertainty and change of the recessionary 1970s and Cold War 1980s. They are more apt to avoid school debt and be avid savers.

Key Takeaway

Show them the money. Gen Z will be more focused on value vs. cost and perhaps less on passion over profit. Companies will need to offer solid compensation packages and universities will have to justify the cost of high tuition.

Gen Z Fully Embraces Diversity

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2020, more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group, making Gen Z the first majority non-white generation in American history. But diversity involves much more than race. Gen Z is the first cohort to come of age with same-sex marriage as the law of the land, with our first African-American president and with gender identity as a common conversation.

Key Takeaway

Most members of Gen Z expect diversity. As a group, they tend to have an inclusive perspective about gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. I have high hopes that this more open-minded view of the world means they will be better able to relate to their colleagues, customers, and clients than any generation in the past. Universities and workplaces will have to continue their path of creating more inclusive communities and policies.

Of course, since many in the Gen Z age group are still in their formative years, it’s hard to know exactly how they will evolve. But the more I have learned about general traits held by Gen Z, the more I am encouraged about the spirit and drive they will bring to the workplace.

Lindsey pollak

Lindsey Pollak is a nationally recognized keynote speaker on the subject of millennials in the workplace and the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders.

The Art of Delivering Career Counseling/Advising Virtually

by Kara Brown

University and college career centers all over the country experience challenges reaching their online and satellite campus students. However, these online programs and satellite campuses are incredibly important for students who work full time, are nontraditional, or have other responsibilities that they need to attend to, which makes in-person workshops nearly impossible to attend. While these students are able to gain the knowledge and information that they need to be successful in the classroom, they are missing out on the knowledge and information that they need to be successful in their job search and career development.

While our university is relatively small, we have three satellite campuses and several online programs for our undergraduate and graduate students. We have reached out to these students and requested their feedback about how we can better serve them. The large majority of students explained that they want more access to workshops and presentations because they usually cannot attend on-campus events due to distance or schedules. Our career development center then worked with IT and the satellite campus administration to use Adobe Connect to provide live career development workshops for these students. We are even able to record the workshops so that we can e-mail these workshops to the students who missed them.

Recently, we held our second virtual workshop, and I was given the opportunity to present. Our office decided to present on the topic of resume and cover letter writing. The process of preparing was similar to an in-person workshop or presentation, but it did require e-mailing the link to students and alumni who were interested in attending. Our staff also advertised the event through our social media outlets. Once the evening had arrived, we had more than 60 students and alumni registered for the workshop. This was a huge number in comparison to on-campus workshops that we have held. When the virtual presentation had started there were about 25 students and alumni in the workshop, but this was still a great turnout for us.

Adobe Connect allows the presenter to use live video and audio feed, and I was able to share my computer screen with all of the presenters. Also, workshop attendees can use the chat box to type questions in real time, which is a great function. I have to admit that it felt a bit strange to speak to my computer screen as opposed to actual people, but eventually it felt like any other workshop that I have conducted. Almost minutes after the presentation had concluded, our office received four e-mails from students and alumni requesting services for resume and cover letter reviews. We also sent out a survey requesting feedback, and all of the comments were positive.

While challenges will always exist in trying to reach all of our students, we are excited by the use of technology and software to be able to face these challenges head on. There are a number of positive outcomes to implementing these types of workshops, and we are looking forward to launching more in the future.
If you or your career centers have any questions regarding virtual workshops, feel free to contact me at brown.kara@gmercyu.edu. I would also love to hear feedback about ways that your career centers have successfully reached your online and satellite campus students.
Kara BrownKara Brown, Associate Director of Career Development, Gwynedd Mercy University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brownkara
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gmercyucareers

International Students in the United States: What Every Higher Education Professional Should Know

by Iyad Uakoub

Iyad Uakoub and his students

As a higher education and career services professional, coming from an international background, I have always related to issues on diversity and social justice on a professional and personal level. After finishing my master’s at Purdue University—#1 in the United States for international students majoring in STEM—and working with thousands of international students and scholars at International Center, Purdue University and Stanford University, it became apparent to me that the challenges international students face have roots in systematic social inequity.  In this blog, I will be taking a look at the issue of social justice for international students in the United States and the role of student services professionals in promoting equity within this community.

Why International Students?

More than a million international students are currently studying in the United States, a 9 percent increase over 2014. Enrollment trends show all time high with 4.8 percent of total student enrollment in 2015. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and business majors attract most international students. Students from China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia represent 58 percent of the total enrollment of international students in the United States.

uakoub2

In 2014-15 alone, international students contributed $30.5 billion dollars to the U.S economy and supported 373,381 jobs. NASFA reported, for every 7seven international students enrolled, three U.S. jobs are created or supported by spending occurring in the following sectors: higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance. Although one could argue that international students receive U.S. money to fund their educations, IIE’s Open Door reports that only 21 percent of funding comes though U.S. scholarships, assistantships, or fellowships. The majority of funding comes through personal, family, foreign government, or international organizations.

uakoub3

Although the number of international students in the United States is increasing, the bigger picture tells a different story. According to OECD, international students comprise of 4 percent only of total enrollment in the United States when compared to countries like the UK (18 percent) and Australia (19 percent).

Economic values and opportunities are not the most important thing international students bring to the United States: They bring global perspectives and innovative approaches along with diversity and cultural exposure. No wonder these students are actively sought after by American universities. However, they face four major challenges during their college career:

  1. Job market: International students struggle during and after earning their degrees to find major-related internships and jobs. Most of them are funded by their families. They are pressured to secure employment in the United States to compensate for the investment in education and to gain social capital upon their return to their home countries.
  2. New academic environment: New topics, professors, and teaching methods— these are challenges that apply to all students, domestic and international, and they exert a higher effect on those who have never experienced the U.S. educational system.
  3. Different country: International students are challenged to adapt to barriers that naturally arise in a new country, such as culture, weather, food, and language. The latter in particular discourages the brightest international students from active class and team participation as they expect negative social outcomes and they fall into evaluation apprehension social stigma.
  4. Neo-racism: In her research, Professor Jennie J. Lee of the University of Arizona, shows that international students from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East struggle with covert and overt forms of neo-racism. They deal with peer, faculty, administrators’, and employers’ stereotypes and negative assumptions and are subject to inappropriate remarks on accents, discrimination and verbal insults, or even physical assaults.

Unfortunately, the majority of neo-racism-related events against international students are not reported. I argue that this is because international students either don’t know whom to talk to, or they don’t believe reporting on discrimination incidents is actually worth the trouble. Lee argues that awareness and trust are lacking between international students and student affairs professionals.

There is an absence sense of urgency when it comes to empowering international students in higher education. It is in the heart of our job to go beyond advising and programming, we must to step up and take action to stop these moral and social crises. Consequently, I recommend three integrated solutions:

  • First, painting international students with the same social brush and one-size-fits-all strategy is something we have to be cognizant of. If we are to tailor our services to international students’ microcommunities, we must be mindful of how that will impact their college careers.
  • Second, Student Services should fully embrace their role of not only being the primary resource of international students’ co-curricular opportunities, but also be active promoters of the benefits of these opportunities throughout students’ college journey.
  • Last, international students’ programs shouldn’t be a stand-alone department or a center; rather, it should be a university-wide ecosystem, where faculty, staff, and students are actively engaged in cross-cultural communications initiatives that create a welcoming and responsive environment to the needs of the international students.

Since higher education is going through transformational change, I see our strategic role within this change is to embark upon a new path of boosting engagement and building collaborative communities so our students can flourish, thrive and succeed.

Where to start? Here are some related resources:

  1. Wall Street Journal – History of International Students in America
  2. Association of International Educators (NAFSA)
  3. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)
  4. The Institute of International Education (IIE)
  5. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
  6. Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States
  7. International Student Experiences of Neo-Racism and Discrimination

iyad uakoub
Iyad Uakoub, M.S., B.Eng., Manager of Branding & Digital Communities/User Experience, BEAM, Stanford Career Education, Stanford University
Twitter: @iyadsy
LinkedIn:www.linkedin.com/in/iyadyacoub

Career Services Programs that Engage Employers

Irene Hillman

Irene Hillman, Manager of Career Development, College of Business, Decosimo Success Center, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenehillman

College career fairs can feel like a blur. Hundreds of college students—many of them prepared, but just as many of them unprepared— shuffle in and wander from table to table giving employers their pitch. Employers return the favor and point these young professionals to their websites to apply for positions. It’s a way to build visibility on both sides—company and candidate—but creating a meaningful connection simply isn’t in the cards.

So, how can colleges support the authentic engagement needed for their students to build relationships that will help them launch careers and their employers to gain in-depth access to a targeted and valuable candidate group? Here are some methods being used by the College of Business at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to provide some inspiration.

Take the Freshmen Employer Tour

The Company Tour Program was developed specifically for entering freshmen to help tie them into both the UTC and business community very early on in their college careers. The college develops a schedule of bi-weekly tours for approximately 20 students (lasting one to two hours) into the facilities of the area’s top employers and these students gain access to companies to learn more about the area’s economy, explore potential employers, and network with Chattanooga’s business community in a very familiar and engaging fashion. This encourages students to think about how their degrees can be leveraged and their academic learning can be applied following graduation, motivating them to be better students who are engaged in networking within professional circles of the city.

Invite Employers to Lunch

Through Bridge Luncheons, the College of Business invites businesses seeking a way in which to connect with current students, pending graduates, or alumni to sponsor a business meal. This series brings business students and local or regional organizations together in an intimate setting over a served lunch where candid and interactive dialogue can occur. Typically this is used by companies as a recruiting venue for open positions. Such events are an effective means for companies to spend quality time with multiple candidates at once and serves, in many cases, as a first and simple step in the vetting process. Bridge Luncheons are by invitation only based on the criteria set by the sponsoring companies and students receive e-mails requesting an RSVP if they care to attend. It is also an ideal place to practice business meal etiquette.

Jennifer Johnson, UTC accounting student (Class of 2015), says “The luncheons have given me an opportunity to connect with local businesses and to build relationships with their owners and employees before joining the work force.”

She adds, “I am very thankful that UTC has provided me with the opportunity to participate in these luncheons because they have helped ease my apprehension interacting with potential employers and colleagues.”

As an additional perk beyond assisting students transition from students to professionals, colleges can consider such luncheons as a minor revenue stream since a reasonable flat rate can be charged to companies and remaining funds (after catering and room costs are covered) would be retained to support other career services activities and events.

Pair Students With Professionals

The Business Mentor Program is available to sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate students. Experienced professionals support students who are paired in a mentoring relationship based on common professional interests in order to guide students toward best practices for career success. Valued employers are encouraged to nominate a seasoned professional to the Business Mentor Program. The program provides a great opportunity for professionals to counsel and influence the next generation of business leaders and increase the work force readiness of future recruits. Undergraduates may even engage in the program for academic credit (one credit). The course integrates academic learning with business world application and experiences. Students meet in class for one month to prepare for the mentoring relationship and then pair with mentors for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Use Feedback From the Professionals

The semiannual Resume Week and Mock Interview Week events are another way to help recruiters and students engage in effective networking and develop significant dialogue. During Resume Week, the college seeks out a few dozen professionals (hiring managers or recruiters) whose careers align with the College of Business academic programs and invites them to participate in the event. Students visit the centrally located student lounge with their resumes to give managers and recruiters from participating companies a chance provide their professional opinions through a 15-minute resume review while networking one-on-one with these high-impact business people.

Bios of the volunteers are provided to students so they can plan who they want to meet. We encourage students to dress professionally and bring a business card to make a great first impression on our visitors.

Abdul Hanan Sheikh, UTC human resource management student (Class of 2015),  summarizes the impact that the Resume Review event has had on his career launch: “By attending this event, I received remarkable feedback, which helped me make adjustments to my resume. This event helped me get more engaged in networking effectively. It was a great opportunity for me to make connections with business professionals from around Chattanooga. Furthermore, I believe these events helped me land my first internship last fall and then my summer internship as well, and those positions gave me the experience I needed in HR to feel confident about finding a great job after graduation. So now I have a strong resume and solid experience.”

A month following Resume Week, the college holds a similarly arranged series of events for Mock Interview Week. Not only do students walk away with invaluable advice on developing a robust resume and interviewing successfully, but they get a chance to ask questions about launching their careers to people with realistic answers. And the hope is, as a result, a connection is made and networking flourishes between the student and the professionals with whom they have met.

Engaging with employers need not be an awkward or hurried venture that happens once a semester. When students are provided multiple opportunities for directed networking, relationships can unfold in an enriching manner for our students and our employers!