Friday, September 26, 2008

Advice for Consulting Recruiting...and Consulting Firms That You May Not Know About - But Should

Today’s post comes from our guest blogger, Lauren Baker, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at CAPS. Lauren has over 10 years of experience in business, four of those spent as a consultant to nonprofit agencies in Pittsburgh, PA. For more on Lauren, check out her biography. For her advice regarding fall recruiting in the consulting industry, read on:

Last week, my colleague Michael (and CAPS financial markets guru) mentioned that the current economy is facing a very serious downturn, and there is a lot of concern on Wall Street regarding when things will turn around. Rejoice, future consultants! The immediate outlook for consulting is not as bleak! Well, not yet anyway. . . .

It is a scary time, no doubt, for a graduating fourth year. You most likely are bombarded with things like “bailout” and “bankruptcy” and “worst job market since 9/11”. Current headlines are enough to make the most rock-solid student run for the Canadian border. Step away from the suitcase and drop the passport. I’m here to help.

Generally speaking, most of the consulting firms are not adjusting their hiring targets in response to the market condition. For example, only one of CAPS consulting recruiting partners is not returning this fall to recruit because of a hiring freeze at that company (although this company may come in the Spring). In addition, we have added four new companies to our roster. That’s good news!!

Don’t misunderstand – this will be a challenging season. Even if consulting firms are not cutting back on their hiring targets, the competition for the available openings will be a lot heavier. Those students who are interested in financial services and consulting will lean more towards the consulting, given the current economic situation. Moral of the story: you better bring your “A” game.

I like Michael’s quote from the last blog so much, I decided to steal: "IF YOU WANT TO SUCCEED YOU SHOULD STRIKE OUT ON NEW PATHS, RATHER THAN TRAVEL THE WORN PATHS OF ACCEPTED SUCCESS.” -John D. Rockefeller

Strike out new paths - what a concept. Yes, it’s a tough market. AND yes, you can find opportunities in consulting outside of the on-campus recruiting process. Will this require more work on your behalf? YES. Will you reap great rewards like a network of valuable contacts, career opportunities, and a new car?? NO, well not the car anyway. But the other things will come to fruition if you’re ready and willing to work for them. Here’s my advice to you:

1. Do not rely solely on on-campus recruiting. Yes, it’s a nifty thing - having all the positions organized for you online so with the touch of a button you can apply for all and wait for the good news that you were selected to interview with at least one. Even in a strong market, it is not wise to put all your eggs in one strategy (or basket). There are others strategies to employ, such as. . .

2. Network, network, network. You’ve probably heard enough from us old folks in CAPS about networking. But try to understand – we would not lead you astray. Our jobs depend on it. Networking is (and will continue to be throughout your professional life) one of the MOST important things you can do to find opportunities. We’ve made it easy for you to get started: come to Career Networking Nights (October 7th and October 14th), the Career Fair on October 3rd, and the Information Sessions starting on October 1st.

3. Be prepared. I will steal from Michael again: “FAILING TO PREPARE IS PREPARING TO FAIL”. Do your research on any and all consulting firms you are interested in, and do some on ones you’re not. Be ready for an interview. Nothing will sink an opportunity faster than going in to an interview not knowing about the company!

4. Be prepared if you do not get an offer this fall – realistically, fall recruiting is going to be slower this year than in years past, and there are going to be many smart, talented and driven University of Chicago students who might not get an offer before the holidays. Just remember, that’s ok!… late winter and early spring will still bring opportunities, especially if the economy begins to turn around, and CAPS staff are available throughout the academic year to help you conduct your job search, and to seek out organizations that you may not have considered before.

5. Cast a wide net. Even if you have your heart set on working for that huge consulting firm that rhymes with LaLynsey, open your mind that you could be just as happy (and successful, might I add) at a smaller boutique firm. Yes, the LaLynsey firm is glamorous and super-impressive, but they can only hire so many people every year. . . and you just may not get that gig.

That last point is a great segue to my final thought for now. Here is a short list of consulting firms that you may not have heard of, but should look into (click on the name to go to the website):

Alvarez & Marsal
Archstone Consulting
CSC Consulting
Detica LTD
First Attorney Consultants
Grenzebach Glier & Associates, Inc.
Hagerty Consulting
Heidrick & Struggles International
HVS International
Iris Krieg & Associates, Inc.
Kaleidoscope Group (Diversity Consulting)
Practica Group, LLC
Public Consulting Group
RCF Economic & Financial Consulting
RW Ventures
Sagent Management Consulting
Watson Wyatt Worldwide

This is just a start, and I will continue to grow this list as I hear of other opportunities. Make an appointment with me today to talk STRATEGY about how to reach the companies not coming on campus.

To schedule an appointment with Lauren, or any of member of the CAPS Staff, call (773) 702 - 7040.

Questions, concerns or discussion topics about fall recruiting? Post them here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Financial Services Tips from an Investment Banking Veteran

Today’s post comes from our guest blogger, Michael Paone, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at CAPS. Michael has over 7 years of experience in investment banking, most recently at Bear, Stearns and Co., Inc. in New York City. For more on Michael, check out his biography. For his advice regarding fall recruiting during the current economic climate, read on:

As we all know, the current economy is facing a very serious downturn, and there is a lot of concern on Wall Street regarding when things will turn around. Over the past year the credit market has knocked out some of largest financial services firms, including Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc., Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and AIG. I was a Vice President at Bear, Stearns working in the high yield research group so I was in Bear’s corner during the first round of this title bout. It was a difficult time for me as well as my colleagues, but we stayed the course and have found ways to move past this tough situation.

Now, I feel fortunate enough to have the opportunity to come to the University of Chicago and advise students primarily in the field of financial services while at the same time, working toward getting my MBA at the GSB. The current state of the financial markets should be taken seriously, but I want to encourage students that if we work hard enough and think creatively, we can find success despite the tough market right now.


First off, I want to be sure you have realistic expectations. It is a tough market and you (with our support) will need to work a little harder to find the right opportunities for you. More than ever, networking is going to be crucial to uncover the hidden job market. On-campus recruiting will still offer a plethora of firms that have great opportunities, but students should be aware that some of the larger bulge bracket firms are scaling back [Note to 2nd and 3rd years reading: what we’re hearing from many of the large firms right now is that they are actually going to be putting more emphasis on internship recruiting this winter. I’ll be posting again closer to Metcalf Season to provide tips and advice for internship recruiting]. However, at the same time that some of the large firms are scaling back, some hedge funds and boutique shops are looking at this market as an opportunity to select the best and the brightest to bolster their positions in their respective places in the financial market.

Although the economy is presenting a difficult environment right now, career goals can come to fruition if you are willing to stay focused, adhere to a game plan and think outside the box. Thinking outside the box this fall means working with CAPS to see which firms may be a good fit for you and identifying new companies for you to go after - even companies that were not previously on your radar screen.

I worked at Moody’s Investors Service prior to joining Bear. If you’re thinking “I’ve never even heard of that firm,” that’s my point exactly. I am very glad I did take a position there because working there provided me with an arsenal of skills that I relied on to achieve a promotion to Vice President in under two years of being at Bear.

Moreover, do not settle on one position and/or one firm. We can work together to think of firms that might be a good fit for you and your career goals… we know you’re very busy with school, but if we design a great plan and work hard your outlook will be much brighter.

While investment banking firms are offering fewer positions than in previous years, don’t discount the fact that there are other firms in the marketplace that can offer a great experience – both professionally and financially. For instance, smaller boutique shops can offer a candidate an experience that they may not get at a larger institution, e.g. more client interaction, more responsibility, more exposure to officers of the company, and potentially a faster career path given the additional responsibility…Even the Wall Street Journal agrees, as a recent article detailed steps that seasoned Wall Street professionals are taking to explore opportunities with smaller organizations that are planning to expand their footprint in the marketplace. In addition, larger corporations including Pepsi and Apple are multi-divisional organizations that offer opportunities in a variety of different business concentrations. If you’re interested in opportunities like this, you should come into CAPS and develop a plan to apply to these organizations.

“FAILING TO PREPARE IS PREPARING TO FAIL” – Coach John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach, 1948 - 1975

From the start of the fall recruiting season, you need to be actively involved in your job search. Our career fair is taking place on October 3rd and there will be over 75 companies on hand – these are companies who are hiring and who have positions to fill. Prepare your resume and plan to be at the fair – it will run from 12 – 4pm in Ida Noyes Hall.

In addition, this year we are holding four separate Career Networking Nights (two each for financial services and for consulting) – this is a great opportunity for students to speak with prospective employers on an one-on-one basis. Career Networking Nights (CNNs) are new this year, and offer students the opportunity to meet with recruiters from several companies at the same time (it’s like an information session, but you’re getting information from six or seven organizations at the same time).

The Financial Services CNNs are taking place on October 6 and October 16, from 5:30 – 7:00pm in Ida Noyes Hall. Think of them as mini-career fairs that are financial services specific. If you’re interested in financial services, block your calendar now and plan to attend both of these events.

Other tips:
· Utilize Chicago Career Connection to upload your resume and actively seek out positions posted on there by companies coming to campus.
· Come in and speak with our staff so we can help guide you and explore your prospects.
· Be prepared if you do not get an offer this fall – realistically, fall recruiting is going to be slower this year than in years past, and there are going to be many smart, talented and driven University of Chicago students who might not get an offer before the holidays. Just remember, that’s ok!… late winter and early spring will still bring opportunities, especially if the economy begins to turn around, and CAPS staff are available throughout the academic year to help you conduct your job search, and to seek out organizations that you may not have considered before.

To schedule an appointment with Michael, or any CAPS staff member, call us at (773) 702 – 7040.

Concerns, advice or questions about fall recruiting? Post them here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Countdown to the Academic Year

The countdown is on - there's only one week left until O-Week begins and the class of 2012 is on campus, and two weeks until classes begin for fall quarter! In preparation for the start of the academic year, CAPS recently sent out an email to all College students, updating you about some of the work we've been doing all summer long (that's right, when students leave campus, we're still here, and while we're not spending our time meeting with students and reviewing resumes, there are plenty of other things to keep us busy).

The info that was included in the email included the following updates and announcements:

· We are excited to announce our new online job platform, Chicago Career Connection. This will replace UChicagoTRAK and InterviewTRAK for those of you who used those systems last year. This system is available to all students and all you need is a Cnet ID and password. Using this system, students have the ability to search jobs posted by employers and access On-Campus Recruiting as well as various University-sponsored internship programs. To log in, you will need to go to the CAPS webpage and click the, “Log into your account” link. You do not need to create a profile as all students have a pre-populated profile with information from the Registrar. If you used InterviewTRAK last year, you will remain activated on Chicago Career Connection. Thank you to the many students who have provided feedback regarding the system since its launch. Based upon this feedback, we are confident that the system will benefit University of Chicago students throughout the coming academic year.
· Attend CAPS’ Open House and Super Walk-Ins Day on Wednesday, October 1 from 9am – 3:30pm in Ida Noyes Hall, third floor. Meet with CAPS’ staff members, have your resume reviewed, and enjoy refreshments and giveaways.
· The CAPS’ Fall Career Fair will take place on Friday, October 3 from 12 – 4pm in Ida Noyes Hall, first floor. Over 70 organizations from a variety of industries will be hiring for full-time and internship positions. To view a list of attending organizations, log into your Chicago Career Connection account and click on the “Fall Career Fair” link. Chicago Career Connection training sessions will also be offered every hour, on the hour, from 10am – 3pm.
· CAPS is on Facebook! Search for “Career Advising and Planning Services” and join our group to receive announcements about upcoming programs and events.
· Sign up for CAPS’ Industry Email Lists. Lists include: Arts and Culture, Government and Policy, General Business, Finance, Consulting, Education, Health and Medicine, and Science. To sign up, log into your Chicago Career Connection account and click on the “My Profile” tab.

Questions about any of these announcements? Post them here - and keep reading the CAPS' blog throughout the academic year for articles, updates and discussion about internships, jobs, recruiting, graduate school applications, and anything else you'd like to talk about.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Career Advice for Women - That's Also Relevant for Men

An article in last month's New York Times by author Hannah Seligson talks about her recent book “New Girl on the Job: Advice From the Trenches,” which addresses the shock and frustration that Seligson encountered when she first entered the workforce, and realized that the proverbial glass ceiling for working women wasn't so proverbial after all.

In addition to facing some alarming "old boys club" behavior, including seeing more women than men saddled with photocopying and coffee fetching duties, Seligson goes on to say that she found herself getting in the way of her own success. As she says in the article: "I realized that I needed to develop a thick skin, feel comfortable promoting myself, learn how to negotiate, stop being a perfectionist and create a professional network — abilities that men are just more likely to have already."

As a woman in her twenties in the workforce today, her advice resonates strongly with me personally. As a staff member at a career services office, her advice is on target, not just for women at the University of Chicago, but for men as well. The skills Seligson developed to help her succeed as a woman are skills that we all need to find success in the workplace.

Develop a Thick Skin: No one, male or female, likes to be criticized or to have their work critiqued - even if that criticism is presented as being "constructive." Remember the first time you turned in a paper during one of your first year classes, only to get it back covered in red ink from your professor - or a TA? You were probably crushed, especially if you were accustomed to straight A's and the praise of your teachers in high school. However, if you've made it this far and you're looking for an internship or full-time job, odds are you got used to the fact that even your finest paper might have some room for improvement.

Coming to this realization is also necessary in the office - to your new supervisor, it doesn't matter that you graduated from the University of Chicago with a 3.5 GPA - what matters is that your work is up to the standards of the organization that you're interning or working at. This means that, inevitably, you are going to receive criticism from your boss. And depending on your boss and his or her work style, that criticism could come across as pretty harsh. Seligson talks about the many agents who told her she'd never get a book deal (and she clearly proved them wrong).

What's important is to learn to take criticism in the workplace - and not take it personally. When a supervisor tells you that your latest project needs some work - or needs to be completely redone - don't take that as an attack on you as a person, take it as a chance to learn more about what your supervisor is looking for in a finished work project. Believe me, I've cried in the office more times than I'd like to admit - but I've also learned that when my boss asks me to rewrite the brochure content that I just spent three straight days working on, she's not criticizing me as a person - she's trying to teach me to be a better writer. As Seligson says, "I think that in order to break through any kind of glass ceiling, or simply to get through the day, you have to become impervious to the daily gruffness that’s a part of any job." That means putting away the Kleenex and accepting that your work isn't as perfect as you'd like to think it is.

Feel Comfortable Promoting Yourself: This is one area where I've read again and again that men are better at this than women - and I still struggle to promote myself at work without sounding cocky. So guys, if you've already got this down, read on - but if you've ever felt the need to be modest in the workplace, now's the time to stop feeling that way. There have been plenty of times when a co-worker has complimented my work and I've said "It was nothing." Or, "I really didn't really do much for this project." No more - when someone praises my work, I will take credit! Traditional gender roles might tell us that women should be more demure, but put the gender bias aside. Whether you identify as male or female, when someone compliments your work, say something along the lines of "Thank you. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed working on the project." If a supervisor compliments your work, it might be the perfect opportunity to say "Thank you. I really enjoyed this project - and I'd like to take on more projects like this in the future."

Learn How to Negotiate: This is a no-brainer, right? Well, maybe - but if you're just entering the workforce, you may not know how much room for negotiation you have. Even in a tough economic market, there's room for negotiation in any job - just be sure you are professional about it (that means no temper tantrums when the boss tells you that he appreciates your request, but that this is not the time for a raise). This is prime time for students to turn internships into offers, so if you have questions about negotiating the terms of the offer, please contact CAPS BEFORE you accept. Our staff can help you consider if an offer is right for you - and what terms are worth negotiating given your individual situation.

Stop Being a Perfectionist: This one is really tough for me to swallow. Perfectionism is one of my greatest strengths - and it can also be one of my greatest weaknesses. Seligson states, "Women, I have found, can let perfectionism stop them from speaking up or taking risks." The fear comes from the possibility of being told "no" - something that tends to rattle men less. But again, regardless of your gender, the advice is still sound: don't be afraid to make a suggestion or ask a question in the workplace, just because the idea isn't perfect or because you haven't thought out all the details.

Create a Professional Network: Just when you thought you had escaped from that monster networking, here it is once again (get used to it - I will tell you again and again how important networking is, regardless of if you're a man or a woman). According to Seligson, men may find networking easier to do since they can bond with the men in the office getting a beer after work. While this may be true in some cases, this is probably her greatest generalization in the article. After all, this in the University of Chicago, and we all know that not everyone here is interested in beer, or another traditionally male interest area, sports - and there is nothing wrong with that. With that said, Seligson's suggestion for creating dialogue with a co-worker or supervisor is great - that is, DON'T ask someone to be your mentor outright, but DO ask someone for their feedback or ideas about a particular project. Trust me, everyone like to feel that their opinion is valued, so it can be an easy way to break the ice with a co-worker that you admire - a simple "Do you have five minutes to go over this project with me? I'm really interested in your feedback," can open the door for receiving more professional advice over time.

One last comment, and this one IS for the women reading:

Seligson says, "The American Association of University Women found that men who are a year out of college make 20 percent more in weekly pay than their female co-workers do. Why? Because my friend and scores of other young men understand the central tenet of a bigger paycheck: ask and you shall receive."

Like Seligson, this stat appalls me - and has me thinking about past career moves where I didn't ask for a salary increase when I should have. The idea of asking for more money again and again is a scary one - no one likes to be thought of as pushy - but it's clear that women need to learn how to make those requests, and keep making those requests over time.

For advice on negotiating salaries, and much more, make an appointment with CAPS by calling (773) 702 - 7040. You can also check out the CAPS' handout about evaluating and negotiating a job offer.

Questions, comments, advice and feedback? Post it all here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Developing Your Job Search "Plan B"

Special thanks to our guest blogger, Conor Barnes, Associate Director, Employer Development and East Coast Relations at CAPS, for today's post:

Plan B

Thanks, Economic Policy Institute.

According to their May 2008 report, “new college graduates will confront a more inhospitable job market than their predecessors faced in 2001, the beginning of the last recession.”

And, the Washington Post isn’t helping either.

So, what will help you in a rough market? Develop a Plan B…and maybe even a Plan C.

At its core, your professional development should always be about your biggest hopes and dreams…arguing in front of the Supreme Court, writing articles for The New Yorker, owning a multimillion dollar company, and all the possibilities in between. But, when jobs are tight and bills are due, dreams sometimes must be tethered to economic realities.

Think local.
Look at the companies you are applying to. Google? Amnesty International? Goldman Sachs? Well known companies are exactly that- well known…and well applied for by you and every other student in America. The CAPS Career Resource Center has a wide selection of materials that can help you determine all the players in an industry, not just the big names. Develop a list that includes companies in your own backyard. Regionally focused companies can be a great way to get a start in an industry and they often have more opportunities for new hires to take on greater responsibilities.

Introduce yourself.
People hire people. People don’t hire diplomas or resumes or cover letters. Seize any opportunity to connect with professionals in your desired field. CAPS offers dozens of panels and programs where you can do exactly this in a low-stress, low-key environment. If CAPS isn’t offering programs that you want, get out into Chicago. Chances are that experts in your field will be in town for a conference, event, panel, something. You want to start to position yourself not just as a candidate, but as a colleague.

Be humble.
No matter how many internships or summer jobs you’ve racked up through the years, remember that this is your first job. Be open to all sorts of positions; not just the ones with a fancy signing bonus. Core classes don’t lend themselves to humility, but we all start somewhere.

Questions, comments, complaints, or praise? Post it all here.