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Starting Smarter

Looking for an entry-level position? Take a tip from these recent hires at L’Oréal, JPMorgan, Lockheed, and elsewhere

Just what traits are different companies looking for in an ideal entry-level job applicant? And what can you expect on the job? Young employees at a handful of organizations recently ranked in "BusinessWeek's Best Places to Launch a Career" list —including L'Oréal, JPMorgan Investment Bank, Lockheed Martin, Pepsi Bottling Group, UPS, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—explore these questions and offer advice to future applicants. (If you want to weigh in with advice about your own organization or just join the discussion, please feel free to share your feedback in the Reader Comments section below.)

Greg Hui, 23

Marketing Assistant, L'Oréal USA (LORLY)

In the recruiting process, they really want to see enthusiasm in the people they hire, that you're very natural and open to new ideas. L'Oréal is definitely looking for leaders. In order to be successful here, you'reeventually going to have tomanage people.

They're also looking for constant creativity—creative ways of approaching the problem—because we're such an innovation-driven company. At the same time, they're looking for strong analytics becausethere are alwaysnumbers behindevery product.

A Wharton grad who majored in marketing and communications and joined L'Oréal's rotational Marketing Management Development program in August, 2005, completing a four-month rotation in sales and a three-month rotation in finance, followed by a three-month market research rotation. Currently doing a six- to eight-month rotation in marketing.

Tochucwu Aguoji, 24

SalesAccount Manager, UPS (UPS)

I would say UPS is looking for someone who has motivation. Of course, we want people with business backgrounds, but do you have the work ethic? The competitiveness? The integrity? UPS strongly believes in promotion from within…if you work hard, good things will happen for you at this company.

Worked in operations as a package preloader and unloader while still in college. After graduating from West VirginiaUniversityin May, 2005, he joined the company full-time as a sales rep handling small accounts. He waspromoted to account manager within a year.

Mallie Smith, 22

Eighth-Grade Math Teacher, Teach for America/JPMorgan Investment Bank Partnership (JPM)

The skills that I learned [during two summers as a JPMorgan analyst] have already helped me. One very concrete example is the sleep schedule. At JPMorgan a lot is expected of the summer analysts in terms of coming early and staying late, making a contribution to the team. Here, it's the same thing. It is every bit as important to stay on task and manage time efficiently.

It's different, but it's extremely challenging to be a teacher. There's a lot expected of us from Teach for America. We come from diverse academic backgrounds and most of us were not education majors. In five weeks, we're expected to gain all the information and bring it to the classroom in the fall. It's an incredible amount of pressure. Multitasking is very important, being able to concentrate on something fully and be receptive at any time.

Spent two summers during college as a JP Morgan analyst, graduated from Georgetown in May, 2006, and joined Teach for America for a two-year fellowship as the first-ever participant in a new JPMorgan/Teach for America partnership, in which students apply simultaneously to both programs.

If accepted to both, applicants may defer their JPMorgan offer to participate in Teach for America. Smith currently teaches eighth-grade math in the South Bronx at IS 162. Paired with a JPMorgan mentor to stay connected and is also eligible for a JPMorgan externship this summer.

Michael Van Gelder, 27

Project Lead on a Government Program, Lockheed Martin (LMT)

Lockheed's looking for people who want to excel—people who are willing to take leadership roles right out of college. The company provides the resources employees need to succeed in those positions, including mentoring programs, leadership development programs, and the opportunity to work alongside some of the greatest subject-matter experts in the industry.

Majored in Finance and Legal Studies at Ithaca College and began working as a cost estimator in 2001. Has since moved into engineering organization. Currently pursuing a master's degree in systems engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Aisha Mian, 27

Business Development Manager, Lockheed Martin (LMT)

To successfully contribute to a team, an individual needs to be able to work independently and effectively without the need for micromanagement.

Psychology major at James Madison. Started career in 2003 as proposal coordinator with Sytex, which has since been acquired by Lockheed Martin, and currently responsible for business development and marketing research and pursuit.

Rachel Anderika, 25

Bank Examiner, Comptroller of the Currency

You have to be somebody who sees the big picture, sees the forest for the trees. You have to be a flexible, open-minded person. Ask questions, be challenged. There's a lot of synergy that happens in the agency.

A Kings College graduate who double-majored in finance and economics and works out of the Wilkes-Barre, Pa., office.

Alison Fineberg, 25

Senior Human Resources Representative, Pepsi Bottling Group ()

PBG is looking for results-driven people, people who are passionate and enthusiastic about learning, and able to leverage resources around them to get to the desired outcomes. [You're] taken out of your comfort zone and given a large amount of responsibility, which allows you to make an immediate impact on the organization.

In 2004, Alison was a summer intern while pursuing a graduate degree in human resources and industrial relations at the University of Minnesota. In July, 2005, she accepted a permanent placement as a human resources representative supporting two facilities in Massachusetts. In July, 2006, Alison was promoted to Senior HR representative, where she currently provides support to 300 employees in facilities in Cape Cod and Rhode Island.

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