More than Slurpees at 7-Eleven

MBA hires at the Dallas-based company must be articulate, curious, and motivated, says recruiter Ellie Ziegler

Ellie Ziegler has been the staffing and corporate college relations manager at the Dallas headquarters of 7-Eleven (SE ) since June, 1999. She moved to Dallas in 1978 and came to the company after human-resources stints at Trailways, Foodmaker, and Bank of America (BAC ). Before that, Ziegler taught English, speech, and theatre in Ridgefield, Conn., for 11 years.

Ziegler says it's an exciting time to work for 7-Eleven, and MBAs who succeed there "like to work hard and know how to play hard." She recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: Where do you do most of your recruiting?


Historically, our company has had a strong relationship with the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. Our relationship includes executive education, and Jim Keyes, our president and CEO, sits on its advisory board.

We also work with the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, as well as Texas A&M Mays Business School.

Q: How many interns do you hire in a given year?


Normally we hire about 15 to 20, three of whom are undergraduates who work on a special project with the CEO. The rest are MBAs who come in for a 10-week summer program for placement throughout the corporation in various areas.

During the school year we also bring in several more MBAs to do a strategic internship, where they're not compensated but receive credit. We challenge them with real-world problems and do a case analysis, after which they make recommendations to a senior panel at the company.

Q: How often do you use internships as a pipeline into full-time positions?


That's our objective. However, we're relatively selective in who we end up hiring. We base full-time hires on performance as well as company need. This past summer, we only converted three of the MBA interns to full-time hires.

Q: Is there a typical track for an MBA hire?


It depends on the background and passions of the individual that we're considering. For example, last summer we interviewed about 30 MBAs for 10 positions at the corporate office. They did a series of rotations, meeting with the various managers of the departments, talking about their backgrounds and their studies. From there we matched the students to a department according to their passions, interests, and needs.

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