The Best MBA Career Centers


At Anderson, information sharing has become a two-way street. One wrinkle that helps Regazzi is supplying data, organized by industry, to employers. It’s not just the data that you’d find in Anderson’s employment report though. When Regazzi visits an investment bank, for example, she’ll walk employers through the numbers, which include a break out of the number of Anderson MBAs who chose particular banks for internships and employment. From there, she contrasts that with stats on the number of corporate presentations, coffee chats, and dinners that various banks held at Anderson. In doing so, employers can measure themselves against the competition — and see the results.

“We can give them a hint on some things that they can do to get more exposure to the students and get to know them better,” Regazzi explains. “We also give them three years of data on how many people show up to their corporate presentations, how many applied for their jobs, etc. What we’re trying to do is help them figure out what they can do to be better and see how they’re faring with their competition in the MBA space (as it relates to Anderson). People have found that to be really helpful. When I visit companies, I often get, ‘Where’s my sheet. I’m waiting for that.’ “I see this everywhere I go: Data is really important. It drives decision making.”

McNish also ties a lot of Darden’s success to working closely with their customers: students. In particular, the CDC regularly engages with student organizations on events and training. More than that, both the career advising and employer relations staff work closely with alumni to give Darden students an edge in the job market. Notably, they take pains to know which alumni are coming back on campus.

Regina Regazzi, Assistant Dean for the Parker Career Management Center at UCLA (Anderson)

“It is just a testament to the power of alumni network that we can get this information and then use it to support students in their career search and interview process,” McNish reveals. “In my experience, it is very unique because Darden alumni are very loyal and engaged. Many times, they let us know they are coming back on grounds to recruit before their HR team because they’re so excited about the opportunity to continue building the Darden culture within their own firms.”


That isn’t to say that traditional training doesn’t play a role in the best career centers. The Parker Center is a case in point. As part of its high touch approach, Anderson conducts a mandatory career series. Taught by Anderson alum Emily Taylor, the six-month series combines intensive reflection and skill development with pop culture and humor. However, it is an organic course, with content adjusted based on what Taylor sees as needs. These may be a few of the reasons why Anderson first years have given Taylor a 4.72 score on a 5.0 scale in teacher evaluations.

At the same time, the Parker Center conducts what Regazzi proudly calls “a lot of drilling.” One tradition is the school’s annual “Resumania,” where students meet one-on-one with career advisors. The program also holds a half dozen student round table discussions, a chance for first years to gain peer feedback on everything from their cover letters to pitches.

Along with personal attention, you could say that “customization” is the defining feature of the Parker Center’s mission. For example, the team pours a lot of time into helping students define what the right industry, role, and location is for them. Thanks to investing in such relationships over time, the center has emerged as a trusted bridge between the alumni they once helped and the students who are coming into their own. “We help students build a list of companies that fit with their backgrounds and interests and then find the right people in the alumni community who can help them,” Regazzi says. “Because we get to know these students, it’s a lot easier to do that.”

While the Parker Center’s approach may be intimate and custom-tailored, it leaves plenty of room for self-reflection. Like many schools, Anderson has adopted the CareerLeader self-assessments, which are embedded early on in the required career series–and for good reason. “One of the things we’ve found over the years is that students feel rushed,” Regazzi observes. “They think they’re going to come in and have some time to think about where they want to go next and what they want to do. A couple of weeks into school, they’re already going to corporate presentations and they need to figure this out. They need to be thinking about things that are really important to them so they’re not making bad decisions early.”

University of Virginia (Darden)


Regazzi’s team prides itself on being highly supportive. Don’t mistake them for being pushovers. That directive came right from students themselves, who’ve advocated for the staff to offer more candor than normal. “A few years ago, I was looking at survey data,” Regazzi shares. “Students were saying, ‘Look, everyone is really nice over there. I like them, but I need someone to give me honest feedback about what I may be doing wrong because I want to win here and I probably need some guidance.’” Regazzi has taken such critiques to heart. “We’re willing to have tough and honest conversations here. We don’t want to be just nice guys.”

Such transparency is the foundation of long-lasting relationships. While Regazzi appreciates the high student scores in The Economist, she finds greater validation of the Parker Center’s success in more private moments. “It is always fun when I get a call and the student will say, ‘I called you before I called my mom!’ You really feel like you’re a part of their Anderson experience. So many people have said that to us that this has been one of the greatest parts of the Anderson experience. We’re really psyched when we hear that. That means a lot to every single one of us.”

To see where the career centers at the top MBA programs scored on the Economist student survey, go to the next page.

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