Getting Up to Speed at Kelley

Undergrads at Indiana's Kelley School are required to take two for-credit, career-related courses, says career-services officer Mark Brostoff

Career development is valued so highly at Indiana's Kelley School that all business majors must take two job-related, for-credit courses. One is taken during sophomore year and one during junior or senior year.

The sophomore class focuses on self-assessment, while the later one stresses actual internship and job-search strategies, interest in various industries, and the importance of leadership experience and academic preparation (see, 5/8/06, Slide Show: "Cruising Around Kelley").

"The unique thing about Kelley and its career education is that we try to force the students to recognize that it's a real continual process, not just simply a date down the road that they should be targeting," says Mark Brostoff, associate director of undergraduate career services at Kelley.

Brostoff, who has been at IU since 2000, recently spoke to reporter Julie Gordon. Here is are edited excerpts of their conversation.

How does career coaching work?

Career coaching is a program that we established four years ago. We recognized that in this day and age, the millennials are looking for more instant gratification in terms of the services that are offered on campus and within the Kelley School (see, 9/18/06, "The Best Places to Launch a Career").

We offer one-on-one, private, confidential coaching by myself, the director, and a number of part-time career coaches that we hire. If it's an entrepreneurial-type student, they would be directed to myself and if the student's interested in finance or investment banking, then the director. We just don't say, "Here's a coach. Go talk to them." We try to qualify who would be the best coach for the student. That's what's a little bit unique about ours [as opposed to] some other schools, which would simply be whoever is next in line, you would get.

You owned your own business before working at Indiana. What kind of company was it?

I owned a catalog company pre-Internet for 10 years, and then sold my catalog company and went into retail until it just became too much work to teach and be in a career.

What type of help is available in the career-services office for students who want to start their own businesses?

We try to get students to appreciate the fact that even though they might be majors in entrepreneurship, how important it is to get a job and to work within the industry or within the field to develop your networking and financial expertise. So many of our entrepreneurship majors will intern with a business. They might intern with a medium- to large-sized business, gain some experience, and work for five to eight years before venturing out on their own.

However, we've had some very successful former students who are out now with an entrepreneurial venture. We have two students who while they were juniors opened up a business in town that's doing very well.

What types of companies recruit on campus?

The types of recruiting companies on campus obviously include all of the Big Four accounting firms. We also include the major Wall Street investment-banking firms, like Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Deutsche Bank (DB).

We also find we have the large retail companies. Target (TGT), for example, has been the top recruiting company on campus for the last two years both in terms of full-time and internship opportunities. Macy's (FD) and Kohl's (KSS) are major players on our campus as well. Many of the financial institutions like Bank of America (BAC) come on campus, and then we can go to the management-consulting firms as well—Deloitte Consulting, BMG Consulting.

Why do you think Target has been the top recruiting company?

When Target comes on campus, they're recruiting to support their entire retail operation. They will come for operations, technology students for inventory control and the distribution centers. They will also come for our accounting and finance students to work at their headquarters in Minneapolis as business analysts.

At the same time, Target's also on campus looking for students who are interested in marketing and the retail side of the house. And we're starting to see Kohl's and Macy's coming on campus for the same type of thing.

How do companies participate in the SCOOP program of company presentations?

We bring in companies for five days throughout each semester, typically at the beginning. And instead of lectures in the class, we have the corporate guest make presentations on their industry, the career path, what differentiates a solid candidate from another. In a room we typically will have five speakers, maybe three or four different companies, and we break it down by majors, so finance and accounting majors could go to one room while marketing and management students would go to another.

They would get attendance credit for the course for that day, and it's extremely unique because this way they're getting to listen to recruiters more in an academic sense but also…it's very non-traditional. It's not a corporate presentation but more of an educational way for them to understand what the role of an investment banker would be or what it would take to achieve success in the management-consulting field.

How important is it from a recruiter's point of view for students to have either study-abroad experience, knowledge of a foreign language, or another type of global experience? (See, 5/8/06, "No Passport to Success.")

I've been stressing how important it is to distinguish and to differentiate oneself in the recruiting process, and one of the ways that Kelley students have that opportunity is to study abroad, an experience we tend to find about 20% or more of our students participate in. In the global marketplace in this day and age, we're finding more and more companies are looking for students who have that type of experience.

In October, over 20 students and our undergraduate director spent two weeks in India, so we're actually incorporating many of these experiences now into the academic [program] and into the courses. We also encourage students not only to study abroad but to do an internship abroad as well.

And in terms of foreign language, last summer we instituted a program for students to study Portuguese. We have a very extensive Japanese-immersion language program over the summer that we encourage our business students who are interested in a career in Japan [to participate in]. We have a very active Korean student association. I think recruiters in this day and age are recognizing that a second language or even a third language definitely helps to differentiate the strong candidates.

Why are you including languages that students don't typically study in high school school, such as Portuguese?

Many people think French. They think Spanish. And what we're trying to do now is recognize that if you think of it from a business perspective—in at least being able to know some key phrases so that you can sit in a meeting and be able to communicate with your peers in a different language—I think that definitely is extremely helpful in the global recruiting process.

I've got a student who is right now interning in China, and he e-mailed me and said one of the things that he would like me to recommend to students is to at least take a semester of Mandarin. Even if you get a general appreciation from a language, it's so much easier to get involved and immerse yourself into the culture.