Career market remains strong for SOM students

As School of Management students finish up their fall coursework, they are focusing not just on Thanksgiving dinner, but on employment for next summer — whether that means an internship or a full-fledged job.

But while the lagging national economy has noticeably curtailed business and finance opportunities for undergraduates, for the most part, job prospects for SOM students do not seem to be suffering.

Job-hunters owe much of their success to the school’s interdisciplinary curriculum, which provides flexibility in a changing job market, as well as new administrative initiatives designed to help students land competitive slots, students and administrators said.

Despite national economic setbacks, the School of Management has restructured its curriculum, incorporating changes aimed at helping its students gain an edge in an evolving job market, Adrian Garcia SOM ’09 said.

“[Employers] have emphasized that it’s not going to affect our class, but most of the companies who have come here presenting have also announced layoffs,” Garcia said.

As part of the school’s interdisciplinary focus, management students take a “Careers” course in order to help first-year students establish long-term goals and direction, Paul Di Capua SOM ’09 said. The course is particularly helpful for students who are in the midst of switching career paths, which he said is common in the SOM’s unusually diverse student body.

Students said they spend a significant amount of time preparing for case interviews, which are common practice for landing management, marketing and consulting positions. A case interview allows potential employers to examine students’ ability to solve problems for which they have no previous training on the spot.

This year, the Career Development Office has allocated brand-new resources to helping students prepare for case interviews. The School of Management has hired former McKinsey associate David Ohrvall to strengthen students’ case response abilities.

The CDO has also purchased access to an online case database and provided all second-year students with Marc Cosentino’s “Case in Point,” a guide to interview preparation.

School of Management administrators said they hope these efforts will bear fruit for first-year students in the upcoming recruiting season.

Director of Career Development Allyson Moore said she is “cautiously optimistic” about the coming year. While no formal figures have yet been tabulated, every second-year student who had a position at an investment-banking firm this past summer received a job offer, Moore said.

For those who did not receive job offers, career prospects are still bright, she said.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to attract more firms to campus,” Moore said. “We’re especially proud that McKinsey has significantly ramped up its presentation process on campus.”

Moore said that although hiring is directly related to the strength of the market, hiring at the School of Management so far has been stable, despite any layoffs that may have taken place at these firms.

Management students interviewed said the job search is an essential part of business-school life.

“The moment you step on campus, you start looking for jobs,” said Han Lee SOM ’08, who is also earning his doctorate in genetics at the School of Medicine.

Students like Kate McGill SOM ’08 — who has decided on a corporate-finance job at home in Texas instead of a consulting position — said they do consider the state of the economy when they choose a career path.

“Corporate finance isn’t going anywhere, but consulting is a service industry, and services are always first to be cut,” McGill said.

The School of Management produces an array of students looking to enter more than just the traditional fields of management, consulting and investment banking, SOM Dean Joel Podolny said.

An increasingly popular option among SOM students is the joint degree program — a course of study taken in conjunction with the School of Forestry & Environmental Science that culminates in a joint degree in business and the environment, Sarah Cohen SOM ’08 said.

Cohen said she majored in environmental science as an undergraduate and said that, as an MBA student, she has found Yale’s student body to be much more diverse than that of other business schools.

“A lot of students are interested in social-impact work — either nonprofit or not nonprofit — social responsibility and the environment,” she said. “That whole body of jobs tends to be underrepresented because there’s such a diverse selection of jobs.”

Cohen said she is currently hoping to land a position with a firm that develops sustainable agriculture systems in California.

The most aggressive period of the recruitment process for summer internships begins in January.

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