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Business schools offer a wealth of career resources to students. In fact, many students see business schools as somewhat of a professional recruiting center. That’s not to say that a business school does not provide valuable knowledge. Depending upon your area of concentration, a business school is going to offer learning opportunities that are difficult to recreate outside of the formal school environment. You can read more about that in our series What You Learn in Business School.
In this article, we are going to discuss the most common resources that business schools offer to students. The list is as follows:
- Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Prep,
- Portfolio Development,
- Job and Internship Postings,
- Career Fairs,
- On-Campus Networking,
- Alumni Connections,
- Professional Mentoring, and
- Professional Etiquette.
Let’s take a look at these individually.
Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Prep
The first step in applying for any job or internship is generally submitting a resume and (in most instances) a cover letter. Career centers within business schools employ individuals who have a great deal of experience in developing these documents. In prestigious (well-funded) business schools, its not uncommon to hire career advisors with expertise in specific career fields. These individuals have extensive insight into developing resumes and cover letters that will be more competitive for those industry positions.
- Take a look at our material on Resume & Cover Letters for more information for business students on drafting these documents.
Next, career centers generally offer extensive information, workshops, and personal coaching on interview preparation. Some of the offerings include:
- How to Dress in an Interview
- What to take with you to an Interview
- Types of Interviews
- Answering Common Interview Questions
- Industry-Specific Interview Technique (such as case-based interviews in consulting)
- Practice Interviews with Industry Professionals
Career centers routinely offer a smattering of very specific interview-related training sessions. This benefit alone is something that is very difficult to replicate outside of the school environment.
Some industries depend heavily upon proof of work or portfolios from job applicants. Career centers routinely assist in developing them. A portfolio of work was traditionally a physical book of work. These may include financial analyses, strategic analysis, modeling, marketing plans, research, or persuasive writings. These fixed documents have given way to online portfolios. Students are now able to showcase their work product (often work created in classes) through personal websites, DropBox, Google documents, YouTube, LinkedIn, and any other outlet the allows third parties digital access to completed work.
With the diversity of opportunities to create portfolios, career centers are charged with understanding the available methods and guiding students down the most appropriate ones. Many career centers go as far as to provide internally-hosted platforms to showcase student work.
Job and Internship Postings
Career centers are the primary points of contact for employers looking to recruit interns and recent graduates. All career centers maintain job/internship boards that allow students to apply for internships. These job boards contain positions that are not publicly posted outside of the school. Being a member of the student body is often the only way to gain access and apply to these listings.
Some career centers go a step further and become actively involved in the screening, interviewing, and on-boarding process. For example, many business programs apply to internships on behalf of interested students. Before applying, the student must meet strict standards for quality of application and interview preparation. This level of involvement is common among the most highly-regarded business schools. They maintain close relationships with employers and provide a pipeline for students and employers alike.
Career centers often host career fairs. The theme or objective of the career fair may involve internships, part-time jobs (while in school), or full-time employment. Mostly, these are information-gathering sessions. During these events, students have the opportunity to speak with representatives from various companies. You can learn about the company, its operations, and the positions it might offer. You may be asked to leave a resume. In some events, you can arrange for a future interview with the employer.
Career centers also keep track of major career fairs and conferences taking place locally or throughout the country. They can serve as a great resource to learn about events and to prepare for attendance. Some career centers will facilitate student registration, travel, and meetings with companies.
As previously stated, career centers maintain contact with local (and sometimes not local) businesses. They frequently hold events allowing students the opportunity to meet and network with representatives from the companies. These interactions can serve as a source of information and a reference point (and potentially a recommendation for interview) when applying to the company. I cannot stress enough how important it can be to have a current employee refer an applicant. This greatly increases the likelihood of landing an interview.
One of the most beneficial resources for business students are former alumni. These alumni can provide professional mentoring or industry or company connections. These connections can lead to all sorts of opportunities with the alumnus’ company or with another company in the industry or in the region.
Career center personnel often have a level of expertise in business fields. This is particularly true in well-funded careers centers. They can provide all sorts of professional mentoring. Though, I will say that the role of professional mentoring is better carried out by professors with knowledge of the industry or field of interest to the student.
Lastly, career centers provide all sorts of training on career etiquette. Basically, it involves how you present yourself prior to landing a position and afterward. Sometimes, how you present yourself can be far more important than your qualifications or proficiency in your job. You can read our series on Business Etiquette to learn more about.