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Managing the competition

While college graduates all over the country struggle to get jobs, Boston University’s School of Management is working hard to ensure its students’ success, despite a slow economy and stiff competition from students at high profile business schools nationwide.

As unemployment continues to hover at more than nine percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, students said that the job search has at times been a struggle. But despite these difficulties, many students said SMG’s Feld Career Center has made all of the resources available that students need to succeed, and has made great improvements in facilitating its students’ success.

STIFF COMPETITION

But while SMG has seen success in recent years, with 89 percent of the graduating class of 2009 having job offers or plans to attend graduate school within six months of graduation and with an average base salary that was 8.6 percent higher than the national average, officials still acknowledge that it is often difficult for BU students to compete with graduates from Ivy League universities and other top-tier business schools.

Director of Corporate Relations for SMG Jim O’Neill said the most high profile firms often do not recruit directly from BU.

“The prestigious finance and consulting firms (i.e. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Boston Consulting Group, Bain, etc.) as well as companies like Google will use the business school rankings as a barometer of what schools they target for campus recruiting,” O’Neill said in an email.

“This can be often be compounded by the fact that many of the seniors execs at these firms come from these top schools,” he added. “While SMG has made great strides in the business school rankings over the years we are considered by many recruiters to be a second tier school.”

However, O’Neill also said that many prestigious companies, such as Fidelity, Bank of America, EMC, Liberty Mutual and Deloitte Consulting actively recruit SMG students.

Talia Rapp, an SMG senior, said that while BU students are just as capable of doing well in their jobs post-graduation, firms’ preferences for students from more highly ranked schools are understandable and BU should be responding to this.

“I think that our education is just as challenging and thorough as the Ivy Leagues; the only difference is the reputation,” Rapp said. “I would expect any company to pick a student from Harvard over BU at first glance. I should hope that SMG’s long-term goal is to improve its rankings and student satisfaction.”

Voltaire Aquino, a 2010 graduate, agreed that BU students are just as capable as others and that the key to increased to success is a move up in the rankings.

“No doubt we are as smart and as talented as the best schools. I think where BU students are at a disadvantage is the reputation amongst top tier employers,” Aquino said in an email. “I fully believe that our students are the hardest working and would have no problem performing in their jobs, but our challenge lies in getting that opportunity. I think that if we can improve our rankings, we can help improve our perception in the working world.”

HITTING THE TARGET

In order to improve this perception, SMG’s corporate relations team is attempting to help make BU a “target school” for recruitment by high profile corporations.

“A lot of employers have target schools that they look for, where they will look and only go to a certain amount of schools,” McCummings said. “So the job of the corporate relations side is to be a target school for most of those companies so they can come on campus.”

McCummings said this has been difficult because of the economy, and that much of BU’s continued success depends on the success of its alumni at various corporations.

“Some companies have scaled back because of the economy,” he said. “They used to have 10 target schools, now they’ve scaled back to five . . . But as long as our students do well when they get there, we’ll always be considered.”

Despite these difficulties, McCummings maintains that SMG graduates are still finding jobs at a very high rate.

“Entry level jobs are still out there and the type of jobs our students are interested in still exist,” he said. “One of the things we try to do is let students know that when they get opportunities to take those. There might not be another chance.”

TAKING THE INITIATIVE

But despite all the work done by SMG to improve its standing, students said that at the end of the day, it is up to individual perseverance to get a good job.

“I definitely think the school has the resources for us to find jobs, but in the end it still depends on whether the individual is taking initiative to go out and network and make their resumes and cover letters as good as possible,” said SMG junior Tina Yip. “But the resources are there for us to use.”

McCummings also said that although being considered below the Ivy Leagues is inevitable, SMG is constantly working to prepare its students for success.

“The reality is there are always going to be certain companies that only want to look at top tier Ivy League schools. As much as we want to change that, that’s probably going to be our biggest challenge. So what we’re trying to do is take it one step at a time. We’re just trying to have our students be more prepared than the next.”

He advises that perseverance and being willing to follow a plan B are the surest paths to success.

“I know a student who wanted to get into Goldman Sachs,” McCummings said. “He had to go a lot of other ways before he got there, but he got there 10 years later. It takes a while sometimes. And that’s ok.”

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