At Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, first-year MBAs learn how to wow potential employers and make a winning first impression in two minutes via video conference or in person through a new course offered by the school’s career center.
The “Olin Professional Development Program-Mastering the Art of Career Readiness,” is required of all first-years and begins during orientation before the semester starts, a recent news piece from the school reveals. The course came about in the wake of the financial crisis to prepare students for changes in the job market and corporate recruiting practices.
“Recruiters come to campus just weeks after school starts, so our students need to be prepared to market themselves,” says Mark Brostoff, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center at Olin.
In addition to help with resume writing, the course also helps students develop a two-minute “elevator pitch” as a way to introduce themselves to recruiters. They practice the pitch with Olin alumni at a speed-networking event that works like speed-dating with students moving from table to table, practicing handshakes and pitches with dozens of “recruiters,” the school explains.
“These practice sessions are crucial,” Brostoff says. “Students need to polish their skill sets for career conferences and interviews to make the best impression. They have to learn how to work the room.”
According to the school, this additional help tackling the tough job market has really paid off. Last year, Olin’s placement track record of its MBA graduates was second only to Yale, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek survey, as over 90% of Olin’s 2010 graduates had job offers three months after graduation.
With employment statistics up significantly from 2009, Brostoff is hopeful about an economic recovery just around the corner. “I think if the internship market stays strong for two summers in a row post-recession, then I think we’ll see more full time offers coming back at the end of next summer,” he says. “2012 might be the first post-recession MBA class to see a strengthening of the job market.”