Lorraine Liswell

UConn Students Rise to the ‘Interview Challenge’

Interview Challenge participants enjoy dinner at Chuck & Augie's restaurant on December 8, 2015 (Juanita Austin/UConn School of Business)
Interview Challenge participants enjoy dinner at Chuck & Augie’s restaurant on December 8, 2015 (Juanita Austin/UConn School of Business)

The School of Business Undergraduate Career Development Office (UCDO) successfully hosted its first “Interview Challenge” in the fall semester. With prizes funded by a Target Corporation Campus Grant, students were challenged to participate in coaching to develop their professional interview skills. Over the course of one month, students who registered for the Interview Challenge had three tasks, or challenges, to complete.

The challenges were:

  1. Choose a random interview question from the “interview bowl” and answer it on the spot for a UCDO career counselor;
  2. Record an online interview utilizing InterviewStream; and
  3. Complete an in-person practice interview with a UCDO career counselor.

The goal of the program was to help students develop their interview skills and become aware of the services that UCDO offers, allowing them to feel more comfortable in the career development process.

For senior international exchange student Guzela Marisova, the Interview Challenged helped ease her fear of interviewing.

“UCDO challenge put me in a situation where I had to show my best in order to get a ‘job.’ What was really good about it, is that this situation was not stressful at all. Lorraine Liswell, who interviewed me, was a very nice and friendly interviewer who made me understand that I’m not in danger (as we are used to thinking while being interviewed),” said Marisova.

As a result of the program, 71% of the mock interviews that were conducted this semester were from students engaging in the Interview Challenge. These students included freshmen up to seniors, business and non-business majors, and first-time UCDO visitors. As a sidebar, another significant result of the program was that UCDO staff had the opportunity to meet business freshman, Seeyashree Sodani, who impressed us so much that we offered her a job in the department. We are happy to announce that she has accepted and will join our student career intern staff this spring semester.

All students who completed the challenge were invited to a dinner held at Chuck & Augie’s on December 8th. This business casual event was an informal and fun way to network with their peers, Target Executives and the UCDO Team to de-stress before finals.

“Not only was the interview challenge fun and helpful, but it was easier than I thought it would be. The staff is so approachable and really cares about helping each student, plus there was food afterwards!”

noted Evan Wexler, a Management and Engineering for Manufacturing junior.

This program would not have been possible without the support of Target Corporation. Over the last couple of years, Target’s Campus Grants have sponsored a number of career development events including:

  • Leadership Speaker Series—Spring and Fall 2014
  • Freshman/Sophomore Case Competition—Spring 2015
  • Intern Queen Presentation—Fall 2015
  • Interview Challenge—Fall 2015

UCDO would like to thank Target for their continued support and commitment to student development. The success of the Interview Challenge set the ground work for the program to be continued each year.

2014 Business Graduates Quickly Landing Competitive Jobs, Noteworthy Salaries

2015-01-08_placementThe vast majority of the Class of 2014 from the School of Business, both undergraduate and MBA, were quickly employed following graduation, with many commanding impressive salaries.

UConn career services experts credited this success to well-prepared students who are ready to roll-up their sleeves, who have had meaningful internships, and a powerful and committed alumni team who are networking, coaching and hiring new grads.

Dean John Elliott has emphasized the power of this package. “Increasingly our courses and degree programs are designed and changed based on advice from committed alumni and other corporate friends, who help ensure that our students have the best education we can provide. Moreover, they step forward to mentor students and help open doors to them as job candidates. Of course the ultimate job offer is something the student earns and that is as it should be.”

MBA Graduates Averaging $101,000 Salaries

Graduates of the Full-time MBA program had great employment success, with 76 percent having jobs at graduation, and 94 percent having a job within three months of graduation. The mean salary was $101,562. The average student commanded a starting salary that was almost 12 percent higher than 2013 graduates. The highest salary reported among new graduates was $160,000.

New graduates from the MBA program also reported significantly larger sign-on bonuses as compared to their counterparts from 2013.The mean sign-on bonus for 2014 was $19,500, up 63 percent from 2013.

U.S. citizens reported higher salaries than foreign nationals, earning an average of $102,500 a year to the foreign students’ $95,000. However, the foreign students saw a 25 percent increase in their average base salaries compared with their counterparts from the previous year, indicating that the pay gap is closing. “We are recruiting stronger international students with great communication skills, and employers are recognizing their talent and hiring them,” said Meg Warren, assistant director of the MBA Career Development Office. All the foreign nationals accepting a job, did so in the United States.

“What we think is really impressive is that the jobs MBA candidates are accepting are diversified,” Warren noted. “Our students are getting great regional jobs, but also accepting challenging jobs across the country. Our students are fighting for competitive jobs, and getting them. We are a small program, but we’ve kept our admission standards at a high level, which, in turn, impacts successful job placement.”

Top companies like GE, T-Mobile, Paypal/eBay, Pitney Bowes, Philips, Prudential and The Hartford are regularly recruiting from the School of Business’ MBA program, she said.
“I don’t know what we’d do without our alumni,” Warren said. “They give generously of their time and willingly converse with our students. This has strengthened students’ preparedness and therefore affects the bottom line: securing a meaningful internship or job.”

Undergraduates Boast 77 Percent Employment

Undergraduate students also fared well in employment. Three months after graduation, 77 percent of those seeking employment had secured jobs. The average salary for student full-time hires was $55,683, but UConn business school graduates received offers up to $75,000 in management information systems and $70,000 in finance.

“The School of Business’ reputation has grown each year,” said Lorraine Liswell, program manager for the Undergraduate Career Development Office. Many more employers are coming in, hoping to interview students on campus, she said.

“Companies find UConn students competitive and willing to roll up their sleeves and go to work,” she added.

Many recent graduates are staying in Connecticut, or nearby in New York or Massachusetts, she said. She’s noticed that new alumni are gravitating to “rotational programs” in large companies that allow them to experience four or six different roles before selecting the one that best suits them.

Kathy Hendrickson, assistant director of the Undergraduate Career Development Office, said she’s noticed a change in undergraduate students, who arrive on campus with long-term plans.

“Freshmen are walking in our door and asking about the job-search process within the first few weeks of arriving on campus,” she said. “They’re asking what they need to do to land an internship as a freshman. This type of energy and preparation at the beginning of their college career makes them stronger candidates for landing competitive jobs.”

Likewise, the corporate community is also focused earlier in the process, and many firms are beginning the process of talent identification and relationship building in the freshman or sophomore year, earlier than ever before, Elliott noted.

More than ever, UConn faculty and alumni are invested in helping undergraduate students find good jobs right out of school, she said. For example, marketing professor Bill Ryan invited representatives from Whirlpool in Michigan to meet students, and this relationship helped create new internships and led to some students obtaining full-time positions.

“We also have a strong alumni base that consistently pushes the needle at their organizations to hire more UConn alumni,” Hendrickson said. “Dan Toscano ’87 at Morgan Stanley, and Tom Marshella ’79 at Moody’s, and Shapleigh Smith at Citi are examples of alumni who take a personal interest in the success of our students. It is a team effort that helps the School of Business students to compete and succeed in the job market.”

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