How Olin Maintains A 97% Placement Rate

Olin Students

Olin Students

What do you see as your center’s biggest accomplishment since you joined? Two years down the road, what would success look like to you? I think the biggest accomplishment of the Weston Career Center is rebuilding back our strength and commitment to our customers, and that includes our recruiting corporate relations,

our students, our faculty collaboration, and our commitment with the program offices. I think the greatest strength and success of this has been that we have been able to wean ourselves into the fabric of the Olin experience that co-exists with the faculty mission and the curriculum mission of our business school. To me, that is where I would hang my hat at the end of the day. Having the business school reflect that the career center, while we’re not perfect, we do in fact stand by our mission and vision to be the best-in- class and to build long-term partnerships and to deliver customer service every day. This is what is posted in my office and around the center. Our vision and initiative is what drives us. To me, the biggest success and what I take the most pride in is that we deliver on our mission and vision every day.

2-3 years down road, I continue to see the changing dynamics of the students. I think it’s going to get interesting in the next half decade or so when the Millennials graduating from the undergraduate programs are returning after 4-5 years of work experience and becoming MBAs. That’s going to be a shocker because they’re going to have a whole new set of expectations. Being in career services, where I’m responsible for MBAs, undergraduates, executive MBAs, everyone, I get to talk to the freshman who’s wide-eyed and curious to that MBA student who is more focused and passionate about doing social impact or going to a startup. I get to talk to an undergraduate who already has a successful business. In fact, I have one junior – a student of mine last year – who has an opportunity now to get some financing for an app that he developed. So I think the level of engagement that we’re going to have with students [is key]. You’re going to have to find ways to complement that face-to-face. I think students are going to expect that they can call you up on their laptop and talk to you on Skype or Google Hangout. I think the challenge that I’m facing – and I look forward to implementing this over the next two years – is finding a way to deliver career services on a technology platform that’s easy to use and creates a face-to-face experience.

What outcomes (beyond placement and salaries) do you use to measure success? I’ve never been a big person on metrics only. I think, obviously, metrics are important in terms of utilization of the service and ensuring you have the right personnel. To me, that’s a given in any business. I have always said that when I was working in Indiana with undergrads as a faculty member that I measure success by this: When I’m on the road and I go to an alumni event – and I get alumni whether they’ve been out two year or out 10 years – and they talk about the way in which the Olin business school’s credibility, visibility, and recognition has increased, that they smile everyday when they read things or hear things or come back. I think it is really about if you’re alumni and speak highly about the overall experience or you’re in positions now that you wanted to be in. At the end of the day, I go home feeling really good when I get a nice note from an alum or when Dean Gupta meets with a happy group of alumni. My expectation is that we’re doing this every day with students at the highest level. When they become alumni, they don’t get the day-to-day interaction. They don’t see the new initiatives that you do. They may look at the career center website that’s extremely dynamic or they get communication from me via Linkedin or getting invited back. That’s what I think career directors, at least for myself, look back and say, ‘They’re talking positively if they’re proud to hang up the name of Olin Business School in their office, then we did something right.

Any additional points you want to make? Being in St. Louis means you have to be aggressive. If I was on the east coast or Stanford or Berkeley, I think my philosophy may be completely different. I examine where we are, what’s realistic, how are we going to get there and keep pushing for innovation in an environment that often doesn’t get to innovate. To me, blowing up this career center seven years ago and putting in a new model with industry specialists, I think a lot of schools have done that now. I don’t think a lot of people are looking at bringing in professionals to be coaches. We don’t call them counselors. These dedicated professionals on my team are why we can do what we do. So you have to put that team and place. And you have to know where you’re headed and they need to know why you’re headed there. Then you become the type of career center that you want to be. I think our students recognize it.




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