There has been a lot written lately about how business schools can better match their graduates with prospective employers. The March 6 Wall Street Journal article “In Job Hunt, B-Schools Play Matchmaker,” by Melissa Korn is a recent example of this conversation. For me, seeing a major national publication give this issue some ink was like breath fresh air. Although the article focuses on large schools, it vindicates the thinking we have championed at Lynn University—a small, independent school in Boca Raton, Fla.
Bringing business students out from behind their desks and into the real world is a key aspect we champion, and I’d like to continue the conversation on this topic by pointing out that you don’t have to be one of the elites to do this. Any size school, such a Lynn, can reorient their thinking to put “matchmaking” high on the priority list. Here are some thoughts on how it can be done.
We’ve been working with regional and national businesses, meeting with leaders and introducing our B-School and our students. As part of this process, our understanding of the importance of introducing the right student to the right company has matured and become more subtle. As the article mentions, businesses are not hiring large numbers of students at once so they don’t want schools sending them 100 resumes. Schools need to work hard to understand what a business wants and find the right students for them. To help do this, we’ve moved one of our executives-in-residence who has years of experience in the HR field over from a teaching position to a staff position to lead these efforts.
From our experience, preparation should also be a key part of the process. We’ve built a class, together with the business community, into our January Term (our mini semester) that has as its theme, Career Preparation and Internship. We tested that class this year and had overwhelming positive feedback not only from students who took the class (we thought we would have around 15 students in the class and ended up with 37 students) but also from our business partners who participated in the class.
It’s also important not to wait until a student’s senior year. Our program also includes, in a class for freshman, Entrepreneurship and Innovation—a section where we get students to think of their own personal brand. They have to think about what that means to them in terms of the things that they need to do over the course of their college and how their brand can help them prepare for their career.
To ensure we make any needed adjustments to adapt to the ever-changing conditions in the business world, we are working with members of the business community through our College's Board of Advisors to further extend and enhance the program.
We understand that the job market has changed, and we believe that part of our responsibility includes not just helping to prepare students for that first job, but also to help make some of those introductions. Ultimately, as the article argues, it’s up to the student to get the job, but we as educators have to do much more to help them get that first job out of school.
And finally, prospective parents love this initiative, so it’s great for our marketing. Students entering B-school today have a higher expectation of assistance as they know the job market still lags the recovery and landing that first job may require a team effort.