Combining Forces

By Mary Hamann | Summer 2010

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On Friday, April 9, while some of her classmates were studying for exams or making dinner reserva­tions for graduation weekend, MBA student Hilarree Wong was flying to San Francisco to take one more shot at landing a job in a stubborn, recessionary economy.

Wong had four interviews scheduled at a “just-in-time” recruiting event sponsored col­laboratively by Mendoza and six other business schools. Dubbed A Day in the Bay, the event attracted 28 West Coast companies with 68 full-time positions or summer internships to fill.

“It’s the first time b-schools have joined forces in this way,” said Patrick Perrella, director of MBA Career Development, who helped organize the event with counterparts at Emory and Cornell universities, Dartmouth College and the universities of Virginia, Michigan, and Texas at Austin.

With roughly 40-50 percent of graduating students at the seven participating schools still searching for jobs, Perrella says the career services departments have been looking for new ways to reach employers, particularly those located across the country from their respective campuses. The organizers hoped the collaboration would give individual students an opportunity to be noticed and evaluated by West Coast companies ready to hire, and offer the recruiters a convenient way to assess talent from several top programs at once.

Wong, who worked as a media buyer for an online video game company before entering Mendoza’s one-year MBA program, has concentrated on building up her finance knowledge during this past year. In San Francisco, she was slated to interview for financial analyst or project management positions with a diverse set of companies, including a large public relations firm, a media com­pany, a video production company and a video game manufacturer.

“I came from the Bay area and want to return,” said Wong, who hopes to gain business operations experience to eventually land a brand management position.

The collaborative recruiting event was just one avenue Wong and other Mendoza students were pursuing this spring as graduation neared. Wong was actively contact­ing Notre Dame alumni working for targeted companies, an effort that had garnered her recent interviews with Google and Disney. But competition for open positions is very steep, she said, and many seasoned professionals are also vying for scarce positions.

As Notre Dame Business went to press, Wong was weighing an offer from one of the West Coast companies. Of the other 11 Mendoza students who partici­pated in interviews, one student had accepted a position, while a few others had secured second interviews. Perrella and his team were poised to keep working with students through the summer to help them access that critical next step.

“In a very tough job market, the students are working incredibly hard,” said Perrella. “They have had to adjust their thinking and go after opportunities wherever they can find them.”