As another semester on the Heights slowly eases underway, much of the chatter around campus and overall volume of student stress seems to surround the endless flurry of resume drops, networking, and interviews that constitute the bulk of recruiting for summer internships and full-time jobs. Often viewed as necessary resume building for freshmen, gateways to the all-important junior year internship for sophomores, bridges to full-time job offers for juniors, and first jobs out of school for seniors, internship and job searches exert a certain type of “real life” pressure that students seldom face in the classroom or within their extracurricular endeavors.
These are, of course, generalizations that vary based on exact course of study and future aspirations—some students focus on building their resumes for graduate school applications as opposed to full time jobs while others pursue different activities in the summers that will better prepare them for their full time roles in fields like teaching or nursing after graduation. However, the recruiting experience is one known to many Boston College students, and one that they historically do very well at.
As a junior studying finance in the Carroll School of Management, I find myself alongside the majority of my peers in the thick of the recruitment cycle for summer positions that will likely go a long way in determining my postgraduate plans as well as the early portion of my career. I often think about my journey at BC that has in many ways built up to this current process. I immediately enrolled as a finance student, worked hard to secure internships each subsequent summer, and made sure to network with all of the firms I would be interested in working for over the course of my first five semesters in Chestnut Hill. It’s a long, thorough process that many other students can relate to. But why?
When examining the Class of 2013’s publicly available employment statistics, it becomes clear that a certain group of industries and companies dominate what BC graduates choose to do in the immediate years following their graduation. Of the top 10 employment fields for graduates University-wide, five include accounting, consulting, financial / treasury analysis, portfolio management, and corporate finance. When looking at CSOM specifically, these five categories make up the entire top five employment fields, which constitutes over 52% of the management school’s graduating class. In terms of employers, 11 of the top 14 firms that recruit the highest amount of BC students hire for accounting, finance, or consulting roles.
If the growing BC alumni network’s highest concentrations fall within the same few roles each year, it is no surprise that potential applicants and incoming freshmen place a certain value on BC’s ability to place them into these familiar industries and jobs. While the university experience is about so much more than finding employment after graduation, the cyclical nature of industries BC graduates join spills over into how students approach their studies, extracurricular interests, and summer breaks away from campus. Because so many before them have been successful through familiar paths during their time at BC, current students often get trapped into following formulas that will land them in secure, desirable positions.
If it isn’t already clear, I closely fit the profile of the type student I’m critiquing—someone who was drawn to the careers BC graduates seemed to excel at getting into, and someone who paid careful attention to upperclassmen in order to glean the best possible ways to put himself in position to succeed. As a freshman, I looked toward the next few years as a time through which I could reach tangible goals I had already set for myself by means of potential employers and postgraduate plans. I was content with the direction in which I was headed, and excited to have minimal uncertainty clouding my immediate future as well as a real opportunity to accomplish what I considered my goals at the time.
Now, as I find myself in the thick of what I worked towards for the past two and a half years, much of my excitement has faded away as wariness over the herd mentality that dominates recruiting has crept in. It makes me uneasy imagining bright students potentially failing to explore their true academic and career interests in favor of finding security in industries the University has historically excelled at getting students into.
Somewhat (or maybe a whole lot) hypocritically, I intend to finish what I started by wrapping up recruiting for finance positions over the next few weeks. And while in an ideal world, every student would find what they are passionate about during their four years at BC, the point does stand that stable beginnings to careers allow greater flexibility later on to pursue broader interests.
In the long term, a happy medium exists in which students can both use their time at BC to think hard about what they truly want to do—while also being able to take advantage of the school’s tremendous recruiting opportunities. When the frustrations students feel with recruiting for the same few industries begin funneling graduates to a broader array of positions, incoming students will start to recognize the breadth of opportunity that actually exists. Then, the talent and work ethic so clear to anyone that spends time on BC’s campus will shine even more through alumni accomplishments in the professional world.
Featured Image by Ruolin Liu / Heights Staff