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're eventually going to have to manage 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 because there are always numbers behind every 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

Sales Account 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 Virginia University in May, 2005, he joined the company  full-time as a sales rep handling small accounts. He was promoted 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 ( 2 Next Page

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