JPMorgan's High-Touch Approach

The I-banking operation identifies campus talent quickly, and has a Teach for American partnership, says the head of recruiting and training

This year, you won't see run-of-the-mill PowerPoint presentations at JPMorgan Investment Bank (JPM) campus sessions. Instead, the bank is employing high-touch networking events, says Rita Carrig, global head of recruiting and training for the I-bank. Face-to-face interaction is being emphasized through discussions with employees from different levels of the company about various topics—from the coverage side to the market side of the business.

Creative recruitment tactics are one reason JPMorgan was named as the ninth best place to launch a career in BusinessWeek's inaugural rankings last year (see, 9/18/06, "The Best Places to Launch a Career").

If students do land an internship, networking during their summer at the JPMorgan offices is key (see, 9/6/06, "The 'Do-Nots' of Networking"). Interns are encouraged to initiate meetings with senior-level directors within the company, as well as analysts and associates. "It's very easy to call and say, 'I'd like to have breakfast. I want to find out more about your career path.' And I'm pretty confident that people will make time to ensure that happens," says Carrig, who has been with JPMorgan for more than 20 years. Eighteen were spent in Europe and the last two in the U.S.

Carrig recently spoke with reporter Julie Gordon. Edited excerpts from their conversation follows.

Tell me about the internship program.

We place a lot of attention on it, and it's absolutely the feeder for full-time hiring. We pride ourselves in ensuring that all of the students that join us get a meaningful experience. We really want to get as many students as possible working on real-life cases so they've got a real opportunity to contribute at an early stage.

How many interns get full-time offers?

This year, about 80%.

Since so many interns get full-time offers, how do you make sure you get the best possible intern classes?

Where we've put a lot of attention is identifying [talent] early [see, 5/8/06, "The Draft Pick Gets Younger"].

So our goal is to start courting and building a relationship with students as soon as they arrive on campus. It's important to know that we also source from non-core schools. That makes up about 10% of our hiring and those students are very much encouraged to apply via our Web site and to go online to find out more about JPMorgan. Obviously, a core group comes from the core schools but we also are very interested in those that are at non-core schools as well [schools where the company doesn't recruit on campus].

For the 20% of new employees who don't go through JPMorgan's internship program, how can they mesh with the company once they are hired?

It's back to a relationship on campus early on—with meeting VPs and managing directors. We also bring them into what we call "super days" for the final selection process. Throughout all of that, they're meeting a number of our people. What I think sets us apart is that students would say once they meet our people, they feel very, very comfortable.

What sort of experience do first-years who haven't interned at JPMorgan have?

What we would be looking for is clearly leadership qualities. However, what stands people apart is being passionate and hungry to do this business. So regardless of what [your] background is and if [you have] the right GPA, it's passion that will drive you to get success and that full-time offer.

How can students convey passion?

Passion would be about the level of interest they show about investment banking. If they haven't worked in investment banking, the fact that they've done their homework and have a passion and real desire to get into this business would [make them] stand apart.

But have most students had internships at other I-banks?

Not all. I think that some people definitely that would be joining through the full-time class could absolutely be career switchers.

Obviously long hours are a part of many jobs at JPMorgan. Are there work-life balance initiatives (see, 9/20/05, "Teaching the Benefits of Balance")?

Inevitably the hours are long. However, we're pretty confident that we have our finger on the pulse. We have a governing body that's focused purely on junior resource management and all of the governing body at the top level is staffed by managing directors from the lines of the business. We also have a junior governing body, which is analysts and associates. And the junior body will feed the senior body with regard to what's working and what's not working.

As a result of some of the feedback, when we promote a group of people from analysts to associates, for example, they're given a one-month sabbatical. So that's sort of a key differentiator that shows we know you've worked hard, we recognize that, and this is one way that we're going to reward you.

The other thing that we say around work/life balance is we encourage you to create your own boundaries. So expect that there are going to be peaks in the business, but we encourage you to create your own boundaries, and we will listen to you.

What's the corporate culture like?

There's definitely a spirit of cooperation and teamwork. Teamwork is absolutely No. 1. I would say that we definitely have a swagger without being overly aggressive. And the other thing I would say, and we very much saw it this year in some of the break-out initiatives that we were able to put in place, is the way we're able to set ourselves apart by really being in touch with our target audience. The Teach for America partnership that we've been able to put in place by allowing students to defer their offer with JPMorgan and go right with Teach for America has received phenomenal success in that we were finding the new generation really wants to be able to give back.

When did the program start?

This year, actually.

Do they come back as entry-level employees?

Yes. They'll come back and go to our very robust six- to eight-week training program. I also think having them engaged for the summer is going to be delightful. And then, at the back-end of that, what we will be doing is, maybe somebody's been with us for two or three years and may want to at that point go and work for Teach for America. We will absolutely allow that to happen as well.