Spreading the Word in Boston

Rather than wait for recruiters, Carroll School of Management feeds news of accomplished students into its network of corporate contacts

Marilyn Eckelman is the director of career services at the Boston College Carroll School of Management. Eckelman joined the career services staff in the fall of 2001 and assumed the role of director in January, 2003. Her experience includes 12 years in senior- and executive-level management in the financial services industry as well as 10 years managing other professional services businesses. Eckelman says that the Carroll School provides a highly responsive set of career services to students. She recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: What are some trends in today's job market? A: Employers are looking to fill specific roles instead of hiring first and training later. They want employees with technical skills who can get to work right away.

Our program instills a good blend of technical and soft skills. The curriculum contains a large amount of team-based work and interactive and applied learning. For example, in the first year, everyone participates in a business plan competition. Students are put into teams of five or six, and they present all facets of their business plan, including research, marketing, and sales to a group of outside judges. In the second semester, they do a consulting project with real clients.

Q: What can students do to prepare for the job search before they get to campus? A: We reach out to our 100 students during the summer as part of our effort to offer personalized service. We alert students about the trends of the job market, while stressing the importance of keeping an open mind. We meet with the first-year students within the first month of arrival and alert them to potential internships from the start.

Q: What are the program's strongest points? A: We hear from employers all the time that our students are very strong in finance, in addition to being great corporate citizens. Our students know that they can find a BC alum at almost every company in the area. Also, the small class size ensures they won't get lost in the crowd.

Q: Which companies recruit on campus? A: With 100 students, we won't be able to attract all of the recruiters to campus, so we don't measure our success that way. But we have close relationships with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Boston Scientific (BSX ), Fidelity, GE (GE ), Gillette (G ), Hasbro (HAS ), the four big consulting firms, Standard & Poor's, and Staples(SPLS ).

Q: How do you market your students? A: We have a résumé book that we send out to employers, and we do a lot of online recruiting. We also go out to companies and market our students directly. We keep in touch with the recruiting coordinators and let a company know if we think we have someone who might fit well in their organization. Everyone in the career services office has connections from prior work, and we leverage those contacts. We also make a lot of connections through a loyal alumni base.

Q: What's the average starting salary for Carroll graduates? A: Last year our graduates averaged about $70,000 for their starting salary.

Q: How do your services differ for part-time students? A: Boston is a strong financial services area, where the MBA degree is considered critical to moving up in existing organizations. At any given time, we have about 500 part-timers in the program. To accommodate such a high number of part-timers, we set aside specific hours for them to come and see us. However, we don't automatically assign them a career counselor, which is something we do for all full-time students.

Q: What sort of services do you offer the international population? A: They make up about 20% to 25% of our student body, and we offer them the same services that we offer our domestic students. But we also try to hook them up with companies in their home countries. Asia is a growth area, so we've had a lot of success in finding potential employers there.

Q: What is the most innovative service you offer? A: We are responsive. For instance, a company called me because it needed to fill an internship slot quickly. We were able to find someone for the job in just a few days.

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